The humanities program at Synapse is developed around the concept of cultural literacy. Synapse values depth in understanding over breadth in knowledge, and has identified core moments or periods in history for deeper exploration. The humanities curriculum rotates in a two year cycle of World History and U.S. History, and is often fueled by the lens of the annual change maker and theme. As students grow through the program, additional perspectives and layers provide an opportunity for students to reevaluate their background knowledge and assumptions.
Students are encouraged to build awareness of not just the world around them, but of their place in it as citizens and agents of change. Synapse aims to educate empathetic, critical and creative thinkers who consider people, events and milestones in order to inform and choose their own path to cultural literacy.

Synapse Humanities Program Highlights

  • Inquiry-based creative projects that allow students to draw on personal experiences. 
  • Cross-curricular integration, inspiring connections and student-driven inquiry.
  • Simulations provide an opportunity to experience various perspectives and understand the driving factors of historical decisions (e.g. motivations, thoughts, feelings, etc).
  • Exploration of ethical and moral dilemmas. 
  • Explicit active reading strategies with an emphasis on analysis of primary and secondary sources as well as supporting literature for each topic. 
  • Students are encouraged to utilize Synapse’s EQ language and competencies to reflect on and communicate their experiences. 

Lower School Humanities Program Overview

Social Studies: Investigating Core Moments or Periods in History
Level I -- Communities Through Time
  • Early Peoples and Agriculture 
  • Impact of Annual Change Maker on Communities
Level II -- Ancient Civilizations and Immigration 
  • World History: Olmecs, Mayas, Incas
  • U.S. History: Theories of Discovering America, Native American Cultures, Contemporary Immigration
Level III -- Egypt and Colonial America 
  • World History: Ancient Egypt, Classical and Medieval Conquerors of Egypt, Modern Egypt
  • US History: European Expansion & Exploration in the Americas, Life in the Colonies, American Revolution
English Language Arts: Integrating and Applying Foundational Literacy Skills
  • Throughout the year, students focus on three types of writing: expository, persuasive, and narrative. 
  • In Levels I-II, daily Literacy Groups use Wilson FUNdations to teach and assess foundational literacy skills (phonemic awareness, phonics, spelling and handwriting).
  • In Level III, small groups meet for targeted word study once a week, individual or small-group ELA centers meet for brief skill work at least twice a week, and depending on the trimester or theme, small groups are formed for guided reading.
  • In Level III, Literature Circle electives form small-group, theme-based discussions around a shared text.
  • Silent and Sustained Reading (SSR).