The Pre-first (Brookfield's kindergarten) class begins with phonics and reading skills (including spelling and writing), arithmetic, science, and French. In addition, the students regularly enjoy music, art appreciation, hands-on arts and crafts, and playing indoor and outdoor games. Pre-first can be a particularly challenging year because of the quantity of the work covered and the standard of the quality expected from the students. For that reason, students accepted for this grade are selected with care based on demonstrated readiness (see Admissions section).
Advancement requires that a student demonstrate a certain attainment of skills and mastery of a subject as each level builds on the preceding grade level. Students entering at grade levels other than Pre-first may require additional tutoring in order to catch up with the class.
Throughout the grade levels, the language arts (English) curriculum focuses on building a strong foundation in both oral and written communication skills and is based on phonics. In the report card system, there are five categories for evaluation: reading, writing, spelling, grammar, and penmanship. Spelling and vocabulary are studied each week. There is a separate text used regularly for grammar. Composition or writing is also a weekly endeavor. Students learn the value of planning ahead and organizing their ideas to communicate them intelligently. They learn to think creatively by observing, paraphrasing, quoting, summarizing, interpreting, analyzing, and synthesizing information. They learn to think critically and reason as they compose and revise. Regular book reports, speeches, and poetry recitations are also part of the curriculum.
The primary focus of the mathematics curriculum is the fundamental operations of arithmetic, Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, and Geometry. Math is a sequential subject and mastery at each level is necessary for future success. Since Algebra I is considered the most fundamental class for all higher level math and is the first to use symbolic notations, a great deal of emphasis is placed on that level. The text used for this class is honors level and is started midway through the seventh grade.
French is the foreign language taught at Brookfield and is spoken in more than 40 countries around the world. Studying French strengthens one's understanding of English since 45 percent of the words in the English language have French origins. Studying a foreign language not only provides valuable insights into a country's history and culture but also enriches one's world. The study of French grammar and composition continues in an increasingly more advanced form until students are performing at a high school level in seventh and eighth grade. Graduates usually test into French II in their freshman year, and occasionally French III. Brookfield eighth graders compete in the National French Contest and consistently place among the top performers.
Social studies classes develop students' understanding of the world around them. Geography, California history, ancient civilizations, U.S. history, world history, and current events are explored and researched. Similarly, science develops awareness of the natural world. Students exercise investigative processes and reasoning capabilities through learning about geology, fundamentals of motion and energy in physics, lifecycles in plant and animal biology, animals, weather, the solar system, human biology, and basic concepts in chemistry. They are exposed to the scientific principles of hypotheses, predictions, controlled experiments, and reaching conclusions.
The computer program is designed to support the core curriculum. Students use a variety of software programs, including word-processing, spreadsheets, databases, graphics and multimedia presentations. They develop and refine research techniques using encyclopedias as well as the Internet. They are taught about the history of the technology, how operating systems work, hierarchies, web design and programming. Keyboarding skills improve at each grade level. Eighth graders typically reach a proficiency of at least 30 w.p.m. with a high degree of accuracy.
The physical education program is for all ability levels. Students play a variety of outdoor games, depending upon their grade level, the season and weather conditions. An outlet from the classroom-structured time, the focus is on understanding movement, improving basic motor skills, and playing together to have fun. Sportsmanship skills are fundamental to the P.E. program, which is scheduled Monday through Wednesday. All students participate in Health class once per week to learn about nutrition and healthy habits.
Students in Grades P1 through 4 attend weekly Music class where they learn to read music, participate in choir, play the recorder and bells, and are instructed in music theory and music history. Students in grades 5 -8 take Music and Art Appreciation and History, and may choose from three elective classes: Senior Choir/Musical Theatre; Speech and Debate Team; or Technology Academy. All students may also participate in optional before school Art and Music Classes by grade level. All primary students and older students in elective music perform twice a year in the Winter Concert and Spring Musical.
Optional electives are offered before and after school, including: Studio Art, Fencing, Ballroom Dance, Speech and Debate Team, Robotics, Math Team, Journalism, and Yearbook Staff.