In the St. Benedict Classical Academy curriculum, there is an interweaving and integration of material at every level of instruction.

For example, during our Ancient civilizations course of study, geography examines the ancient maps of the time; religion incorporates our Faith and Life Series through readings about Joseph in Egypt; the virtue of diligence may be introduced while the students examine the building of the pyramids; history explores art and the complementary study of hieroglyphics; science examines rocks and rock formation; mathematics focuses on the structure of the polyhedron itself. Students guided in this assimilated framework learn fast the beauty, grandeur, glory, order, connectedness, and symmetry of the world around them.

The study of art encourages both hands-on participation as well as an introduction to the great masters and works of art. This study of art naturally complements the study of history in our integrated curriculum. The great masters and their works will be studied in depth through the selection of a particular artist each month that all students will focus on both in art classes and individual grade-level classrooms.

We want our students to read insightfully, write beautifully, speak articulately, and think rigorously. This means they must be taught how language works, which includes a deep grasp of phonics in reading and spelling, word usage and syntax through the persevering study of English grammar (and Latin beginning in the 3rd Grade), and composition and expression.

Students should learn how to question a story and be questioned by it. By being introduced to beautiful and enduring literature, poetry, and biography, even young students can be encouraged to consider the worthiness of characters’ choices, the consequences of their actions, and the importance of right action and truth.

The study and recitation of poetry are used to cultivate memory, especially in the early years when children’s memory is strong and capable. Copy-work and narration in the early years help students to imitate proper techniques and find their voice. Dictation in later years allows students to emulate beautiful writing. The development of creative, expository, and analytical writing enables young thinkers to build confidence in the expression of their imagination, memory, and intellect.

Language and literature lessons complement concurrent, thematic lessons in history, culture, and religion, and thus provide a coherent, integrated curriculum.

Grade-appropriate texts include:

  • Phonics/Spelling (Grades K-2): SuperKids (Zaner-Bloser)
  • Spelling (Grades 3 and up): Spellwell (EPS Literacy)
  • Grammar (Grades 3-8): Voyages in English and Exercises in English (Loyola Press)
  • Composition (Grades 3-8): Writing & Rhetoric (Classical Academic Press)
  • Penmanship: Copybooks & New American Cursive (Memoria Press)
  • Vocabulary: Wordly Wise (Grade 2), Vocabulary Workshop (Sadlier) (Grades 3-8)

The study of history at St. Benedict Classical Academy is distinctive in its expansive reach from the earliest days of civilization through Massachusetts state history and then into the great study of the American Founding and US history through the Civil War.

We believe exposure to history in “story form” at a young age is critical to developing the child’s inquiring mind. Moreover, to know oneself and the particular epoch in which one lives, one must have an awareness of the historical periods that preceded one’s own. Studying heroic (and evil) figures of the past also enables students to possess the historical and literary content to think thoughtfully about the right way to live, what makes a man or woman great, and the qualities of good leaders and bad leaders.

SCBA utilizes The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, an award-winning series of books that can be read aloud to or read by young children, to bring history alive to our lower elementary students. This series, which includes an expansive teacher activity book to guide map work and the creation of timelines, serves as the “spine” of the history and geography curricula in the early years, and is supplemented by great literature, biography and poetry of the time and place. In the upper-level grades, primary sources such as famous speeches and historical documents, are primarily used.

In addition to the study of important national holidays and key American figures (e.g., Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, etc), each academic year will traverse a particular epoch in history, with an emphasis on Western civilization, but also with attention to the many cultures that form our country’s cultural landscape today:

  • Kindergarten: Introduction to history and geography
  • 1st Grade: Survey of history from Creation to the present day
  • 2nd Grade: Ancient Egypt and Greece
  • 3rd Grade: Ancient Rome and Massachusetts State History
  • 4th Grade: Christendom
  • 5th Grade: American History
  • 6th Grade: Western Civilization Capstone
  • 7th Grade: The Christendom Year
  • 8th Grade: The New World Year

Literature is selected to complement and integrate with what is being studied in other disciplines (such as history or science). Children are also exposed to age-appropriate classics of children’s literature. Literature selections include:

Kindergarten: A variety of classic read-alouds and read togethers, such as:

  • Marcus Pfister, The Rainbow Fish
  • Marjorie Priceman, How to Make an Apple Pie
  • Janice May Udry, A Tree is Nice
  • Donald Hall, The Ox-Cart Man
  • Munro Leaf, The Story of Ferdinand
  • George Ellis, Stellaluna
  • Jane Yolen, Owl Moon
  • Audrey Penn, The Kissing Hand
  • Tomie dePaola, The Legend of the Indian Paint Brush and The Song of Francis

First Grade:

  • Arnold Lobel, Frog and Toad Together
  • Else Holmelund Minarik, Little Bear series
  • Robert McCloskey, Blueberries for Sal and Make Way for Ducklings
  • Marjorie Flack, The Story About Ping
  • C.W. Anderson, Billie and Blaze
  • Peter and Connie Roop, Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie
  • Marcia Brown, Stone Soup
  • Barbara Cooney, Miss Rumphius

Second Grade:

  • Tomie de Paola, 26 Fairmont Avenue
  • E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web
  • Jean Fritz, George Washington’s Breakfast
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie
  • Alice Dalgliesh, The Courage of Sarah Noble
  • Poetry from Robert Louis Stevenson, Lewis Carroll, A.A. Milne, Gerard Manly Hopkins, and Christina Rossetti, among others

Third Grade:

  • Robert Lawson, Ben and Me
  • Beverly Cleary, Henry and Beezus
  • Florence and Richard Atwater, Mr. Popper’s Penguins
  • John Reynolds Gardiner, Stone Fox
  • Eleanor Estes, The Moffats
  • Ancient Roman myths and legends

Fourth Grade

  • Elizabeth Vining, Adam of the Road
  • Robert McCloskey, Homer Price
  • Roger Lancelyn Green, King Arthur
  • Roger Lancelyn Green, The Adventures of Robin Hood
  • Andrew Lang, The Blue Fairy Book
  • C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • Poetry from Poetry for the Grammar Stage

Fifth Grade

  • L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
  • Esther Forbes, Johnny Tremain
  • Jean Craighead George, My Side of the Mountain
  • Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer
  • Elizabeth George Speare, The Sign of the Beaver
  • Poetry from Poetry for the Logic Stage

Sixth Grade

  • Beowulf
  • D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths
  • Elizabeth George Speare, The Bronze Bow
  • The Odyssey, retold by Robin Lister
  • J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Seventh Grade: Medieval Literature

  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • The Song of Roland
  • Excerpts from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales
  • Excerpts from Dante’s Commedia
  • G.K. Chesterton, “Lepanto”
  • Excerpts from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Richard III, and Henry V
  • Mark Twain, Joan of Arc
  • Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons

Eighth Grade: American Literature

  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
  • James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans
  • Washington Irving, Rip Van Winkle
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • Jack London, The Call of the Wild
  • Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn
  • Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage
  • Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels
  • Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
  • Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

St. Benedict Classical Academy students are introduced to a robust Latin program beginning in Kindergarten.
From this year on, students memorize Latin prayers and phrases such as the Salve Regina and are exposed to a range of Latin texts. In the third grade, students begin to receive more formal instruction in the language with Latin grammar and vocabulary. The upper-level grades, from third grade through eighth grade, learn to conjugate verbs in their various tenses, decline Latin nouns, recite prayers in Latin, and more. Instruction in the Latin language provides the gateway to a more comprehensive understanding of the English language and grammar, a foundation for expanding vocabulary through etymology, and greater accessibility to other languages and cultures.

  • Latin (Grade 3): Latina Christiana (Memoria Press)
  • Latin (Grade 4): First Form Latin (Memoria Press)
  • Latin (Grades 5-8): Ecce Romani
  • Accelerated Latin (Grades 7-8): Lingua Latina

In a classical curriculum, the study of mathematics introduces students to the marvelous truth that the order of the created world can be expressed in abstract mathematical principles. Mathematics uncovers the “logic” of creation and prepares the mind for abstraction, enabling students to see past appearances to enduring truths and empowering them with the “habits of mind” to think logically about all other subjects.

In the elementary years, the focus is on the study of arithmetic – which is, simply put, the study of quantity, the relationships between quantities, and the abstract representation of quantities as they relate to reality. SBCA uses Think! Mathematics textbooks for Grades K-5, which utilize Singapore Mathematics, which is well known for its concrete-pictorial-abstract method that enables students to solidify their grasp of arithmetic in the younger grades and develop fundamental memorization techniques. Our standard math track for students in Grades 6-8 uses Math in Focus, a Singapore method book. In our accelerated math track for students in Grades 6-8, SBCA uses the Art of Problem Solving, which introduces students to pre-algebra and then allows mastery over algebra.

Our music curriculum begins with our students being introduced to Gregorian chant and sacred music. Students become familiar with the “music of the masters,” music theory. Through music class, as well as a feature “Composer of the Month,” students experience the joy and beauty of music appreciation. Students learn to read musical notation and learn scales, intervals, triads, seventh chords, harmonic function, and phrase structure. Students apply what they learn to the practice of pieces in choir, which they perform biannually at the Advent Christmas Concert and during our Grandparents Day celebration.

All students at SBCA are introduced to the art of public speaking. In Kindergarten through fourth grade, oratory takes place within the context of other subjects such as literature, grammar, history, religion, etc. In the fifth through eighth grades, students receive formal instruction within the context of public speaking and debate classes.

Classical education strives to cultivate the whole person – in body, as well as in mind, heart, and spirit. In physical education, children experience the joy that comes from healthy exercise and play. They learn virtues such as concentration, self-discipline, stamina, and sportsmanship. They begin to practice good stewardship of their bodies as gifts from God to be put at the service of others and used for God’s glory. And they experience wonder at the capabilities of the human body, which is “beautifully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

In a Catholic classical curriculum, the study of science is oriented towards observing and contemplating the order of creation. In the early years, the focus is on honing students’ habits of precise observation of the natural world and natural phenomenon. Experimentation is introduced to enable students to ask questions of the natural world and develop a means of answering those questions. Together, observational studies and experimental explorations help teach children to attend to the natural world carefully and understand it deeply.

SBCA utilizes nature studies and hands-on activities for Kindergarten and Grade 1 students. The FOSS Science program, introduced in Grade 2 and used through Grade 6, teaches through hands-on, active investigation. Physical, earth, and life sciences are interwoven throughout each year of study. In Grades 7-8, SBCA utilizes Novare Science. As children move into the logic stage of development at the middle school level, they are prepared for a more systematic, disciplinary approach to the study of science: one that moves from observation and description to more formal investigations that require students to develop hypotheses and determine a way to test their ideas. Students leave well-prepared for formal studies in physics, biology, and chemistry.

The teachings and beauty of our Catholic faith are not only a subject of academic study in each grade, but are woven through all of what we do at St. Benedict Classical Academy, providing unity and cohesiveness to the curriculum. Students receive a rich education in the Catholic faith through the use of the Faith & Life Series, published by Ignatius Press, which Pope Benedict XVI called “the best catechetical series.” Students also learn of the gift of the Scriptures through select memorization of psalms and verses. They explore the treasures of Christian culture, art, architecture, music, and literature.

The practice of the faith is woven through the life of the school with daily Morning Prayer, the Angelus at noon, weekly Mass celebrations, monthly adoration and confession, weekly virtue talks, music class, community outreach, and service projects.

Our virtue-based character education program teaches students virtues such as honesty, integrity, perseverance, respect for self and others, self-control, and patience. Each month, a school-wide set of virtues is promoted in the curriculum and practiced in our school setting. The virtues are first defined and explored at our weekly class meeting, and then integrated into the curriculum through stories, history, poetry and literature.

We also intentionally integrate this formation in the virtues into the culture of the school through our study of character development and heroism in literature and history. Rich examples of virtue (and vice) fill the pages of classical literature and every epoch of history: the perseverance of George Washington; the friendship of Aslan and Lucy, and the betrayal of Edmund in The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe; the just laws of Hammurabi.

Explore the Catholic Classical Difference

Explore the Catholic Classical Difference

Catholic Classical education strives to form students in faith, wisdom, and virtue by drawing on the richness of the Church’s intellectual tradition and educational approach.


Explore Our SBCA Blog

Explore Our SBCA Blog

Our faculty write weekly blogs on a topic of their choice; this post highlights the classical approach to learning history.




Our students come to understand education for what it truly is: a noble, joy-filled pursuit, worthy of their dedication and focus.