Education has come a long way through the 19th and 20th centuries, but we feel there is more yet to do. When public education was first instituted in the USA, it was a system of mass-production. You can still see the leftovers of this system in the lines of desks facing a teacher at a whiteboard. Students are rewarded for conformity, with very little room for autonomy. More recently, public education has adopted standardized testing, at the expense of the arts, soft skills, and time to play. Standardized testing makes educators, parents, and students frustrated and discouraged.
We want an encouraging, experience-rich school environment! That frees teachers and students both to explore interests and opportunities. We want our students to find joy as lifelong learners. That's why our vision motto is Create, Play, Inspire, Learn.
Here are the five points of our pedagogy philosophy.
Play gives children context and practice for their learning. While schools across the country are reducing recess time, we will not. There are just too many valuable lessons for children to learn through play: social skills, risk, empathy, concentration, boundaries, self-regulation, and creativity.
Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.
- Fred Rogers
We know that individuals with autonomy will feel more pride and satisfaction, and that's what we want for our students, parents, and teachers. Students have choices at play, lunch, and even what classes they take. Students move without pressure on their own pace and path through curriculum. Parents get autonomy with flexible scheduling and no homework, so school will control your family time. We also give teachers autonomy, as professional educators, to make a decisions about what their students need, and to act on spontaneous teaching moments.
Education trends clamor for more rigor, more intervention, more time, more benchmarks...generally just more! But children haven't changed, and neither has what is appropriate for their development. We seek to educate our students as whole children, not merely as test takers or scores in our report. While developmentally appropriate learning may at first not test well, in the long run we believe it will lead to confident, creative, and well-rounded people.
Our greatest desire is that our students have the joy, satisfaction, and success in elementary school they need to be lifelong learners. Students should not lose their enthusiasm for learning as they progress through school! We know that the best way students will continue to learn and grow throughout their lives will be as strong readers. Every subject, philosophy, skill, and world is open to us through reading!