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Curriculum and Instructional Programs


"Catechesis is an education in the faith of children, young people, and adults which includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine imparted, generally speaking, in an organic and systematic way, with a view to initiating the hearers into the fullness of the Christian life” (CCC 5). The Guidelines for Religious Education are structured around a center; the mystery of the Blessed Trinity and of Christ as expressed in the 4 Pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

  • The Profession of Faith--Creed
  • The Celebration of the Christian Mystery--Sacraments
  • Life in Christ--Commandments and the Moral Life
  • Christian Prayer--Prayer

These guidelines are intended to assist catechists in fulfilling the mission of the Church to educate her children in the fullness of the Catholic Faith: to believe what the Creed teaches; to participate in the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church; to live a life of love for God and neighbor; and to pray to the Father through Jesus, His Son, in the Holy Spirit.

Our Catholic values are woven throughout all classes and activities each day. Sacramental preparation formally begins in second grade. Students make the sacraments of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. In eighth grade, students make the sacrament of Confirmation.

Religion is the focus of everything we do. It is a major part of everyday. In addition to that, we also:

  • Attend weekly mass
  • Participate in school-wide faith-based assemblies
  • Pray a school-wide rosary in October
  • Attend vocation awareness assemblies
  • Participate in stations of the Cross during Lent
  • Attend school-wide Lenten Retreats
  • Partake in many service opportunities such as the Food Bus and Walk for the Homeless

To learn more specific standards for each grade, please review the diocesan religion curriculum.

Click here to review the diocesan religion curriculum.


The language arts program is the foundation of academic instruction in the Catholic elementary classroom. Success in all areas of learning relies on competency in the four areas of language: reading, writing, speaking and listening. In working toward this goal, recognition of varying learning styles, developmental levels and teaching methods is essential.

Reading: We differentiate reading instruction and allows student choice and independence while meeting their reading goals. Students spend time reading each day and share their thoughts in book clubs and small group instruction. Each classroom has a library, and students can also check-out both digital and hard-copy books from the school library. Students have access to Reading A-Z and Accelerated Reader, depending on their grade. Students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade use the Daily 5 framework for literacy. This fosters independence, creates engaged learners, and allows time for the teacher to work with individual students as well as small groups.

Writing: Kindergarten through third grade uses Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study for writing workshop. The emphasis is on writing being a process which includes recording ideas, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. Students also use Empowering Writers, which includes literature as a jumping off point for instruction.

Word Study: Kindergarten through eighth grade is taught spelling through Word Study instruction. Word Study is based on learning word patterns instead of memorizing disconnected words. Word study builds word knowledge and is closely tied to reading instruction.

To learn more specific standards for each grade, please review the diocesan language arts curriculum.


The Mathematics Curriculum Objectives outline the essential components of the Math curriculum for each grade level (K-8) for Diocese of Arlington Catholic Schools. We differentiate instruction with small math groups. Students use manipulatives to build conceptual understanding and connect their learning to real world applications.

IXL and Moby Max are online math programs that allow us to use a blended approach to learning. Teachers assign specific problems and tasks for students to work on independently. Teachers can see exactly what the students accomplished during independent work and what the student needs to continue to practice.

To learn more specific standards for each grade, please review the Diocese Math curriculum.

Click here to view the diocesan mathematics curriculum.


As Catholic educators in the field of social studies, we believe that there is an integral connection between this subject and the social teachings of the Church. It is our privilege and our duty to deepen the awareness of this connection in ourselves and in our students. We believe that we are called to teach the value of citizenship as Jesus did when He spoke of loving our neighbor and valuing justice.

Social studies education is not just teaching facts, but also teaching the value and principles of tolerance and solidarity with all people and cultures. "We are one human family, whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and gender differences. We are our brothers' and sisters' keepers. In a linked and limited world, our responsibilities to one another cross national and other boundaries" (U. S. Bishops' Pastoral, November 1990). Deepening an awareness of solidarity in our students will result in a more just and peaceful world.

The Diocesan social studies curriculum provides our students with a strong foundation in social studies. Our teachers use this curriculum as a valuable vehicle of instruction. In addition to learning the factual information in the curriculum, our students are empowered to embrace the values stated in this philosophy.

To learn more specific standards for each grade, please review the diocesan social studies curriculum.


God has planted within human nature the desire to know and understand, to learn and explore, and to seek answers to questions in the world around us. Science is an area of the curriculum where that desire can be fostered by allowing the children to explore and discover the wonders of their world. Science probes the mysteries of the earth and universe, seeking the Creator in all things.

Teachers facilitate the learning of science by engaging the student through enjoyable and meaningful scientific inquiry, while preparing these students to become lifelong learners.

At our school, science incorporates STREAM (Science, Technology, Research, Engineering, Art, and Math. We strive to be student-centered and utilize instruction driven by discovery, exploration, and problem solving. All students are engaged in the learning process.

At the Basilica School of Saint Mary, all grades use FOSS (Full Option Science System) where students actively participating in scientific practices through investigations. This approach to science instruction allows students to have a hands-on experience, which leads to a deeper understanding and the development of higher level thinking skills.

Click here to view the diocesan science curriculum.


Students at the Basilica School of Saint Mary are fortunate to begin their study of Spanish in pre-k. Natural language learning ability begins at an early age, so our students benefit greatly from instruction that begins when they are young and continues throughout their schooling.

Students in K-4 attend Spanish class twice per week. Students in grades five and six attend Spanish class three times per week. Seventh and eighth graders attend Spanish class four times per week.
Our Spanish teachers engage the children by using puppets, books, songs, skits, dialogues, and videos. The students always have the opportunity to practice what they have learned by communicating within the class. Emphasis is based on communication.

The teaching of foreign languages provides a variety of benefits:
  • Teaches listening, speaking, reading, writing and culture with emphasis on communication
  • Exposes students to the beauty and richness of other languages and civilizations
  • Strengthens cognitive thinking skills
  • Supports the native language of the student and reinforces English grammar

The ultimate goal of an academic elementary program is to successfully complete the level one high school curriculum. Arlington Diocese high schools require a foreign language placement test and/or written recommendation by the student’s foreign language teacher.C

Click here to view the diocesan Spanish curriculum.


Advancements in our rapidly changing world necessitate the acquisition of technological skills to enable students to function in the 21st Century. As lifelong learners and followers of Jesus, our students strive to become citizens who are capable of making significant contributions to our global society. They must also become aware of the social and ethical impact of technology. To this end, the Arlington Diocese endeavors to make our students knowledgeable and effective technology users.

The Basilica School of Saint Mary aims to strengthen the skills students need to access, interpret, and synthesize information which is constantly changing. Technology is used as a tool for learning and developing critical thinking skills across the content area. Having students acquire these skills will result in the development of self-directed learners who can independently and cooperatively apply technology to solve problems and make informed decisions.

iPads are available for all students and are used each day in different subject areas. Classrooms have smart boards which are used throughout the day. Teachers have been trained in blended learning which means instruction is targeted and at the students’ individual pace.

Click here to view the diocesan technology curriculum.


God grants us the intellect to know, care for, and to protect the body that houses His image. For students, this is learned when schools promote and model lifetime wellness by teaching health concepts and physical fitness activities. Physical education is an integral part of holistic Catholic education. Students participate in physical education twice during the six day SAINTZ rotation cycle.

Click here to view the diocesan physical education curriculum.


The diocesan philosophy of art instruction is based on the belief that each person is a unique creation, having worth as a child of God, and as a gift of God, possessing many talents. The child develops an awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the order and beauty of God’s creation and of man-made works of art.

The art curriculum is designed to stimulate the child to think creatively, to plan, to create, and to evaluate. Students at the Basilica of Saint Mary have regular opportunities to study art from different cultures.

Click here to view the diocesan art curriculum.


Students visit the library once during the six day SAINTZ rotation, and other times as requested. During the students’ formal library time, the librarian fosters literacy skills through instruction, activities, and research. The librarian works closely with classroom teachers to support instruction from the classroom. Students have access to the online library catalog and check out books during their scheduled library time. The goal of library class is for the students to become independent learners and lifelong readers.

Click here to view the diocesan library curriculum.


Music class is primarily a way of helping students develop their own musical gifts; however, music appreciation is also an integral part of the learning which occurs. This class gives students the opportunity to study culture and history through music. The importance of music as an art form is highlighted as part of the process. The students also learn religious songs and apply this when they attend Mass each Friday. They have many opportunities to perform and grow as individuals and as part of an ensemble.

Click here to view the diocesan music curriculum.


The Basilica School of Saint Mary School operates under the auspices of the Office of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Arlington.

For more detailed information, click here to view the Curriculum Guidelines for the Diocese of Arlington.