learning at Park
From the first days of kindergarten, we stress students' active involvement in the classroom and development of self esteem. A central part of our mission is the fostering of compassionate, critical thinkers who will be active participants in society.
Age appropriate community service projects, media awareness curricula and year-long themes of respect and justice integrate academic work with the larger world.
Throughout the grades, kids are given opportunities to work as a group, to speak openly about issues, to be allies for others. Weekly class meetings provide one format to resolve conflicts, to experience democracy and to learn to raise issues and express opinions.Kindergarten
The goal of the kindergarten year is to support children's social, emotional, cognitive and physical development. Attention is paid to play, problem solving and children's ability to see themselves as part of the class, school and world community. They are encouraged to become authors, to develop reading skills and to treasure experiences with oral language and books. Children work with math concepts and skills that extend their understanding and challenge their growing problem solving and reasoning abilities. Science is ever present in children's lives, and the experiences here offer them opportunities to observe, compare, question and predict. We want to sustain their sense of wonder and empower them to make sense of their world.
The teaching approach and curriculum are designed to meet the needs of the children's developing minds and bodies and to help them feel successful and capable in this first year.
First grade is a particularly exciting period of growth for children as they move on from their role as some of the youngest students on campus to those with more experience as friends and as learners. There is a great deal of emphasis on learning to be a respectful member of the community. First graders become aware of their place in the larger world and their ability to make a difference in that world. In first grade, many students are experimenting with new concepts and skills for the first time. The first semester of the year is a powerful time in the life of a reader. As emerging readers and authors, they gain fluency and confidence as they begin to think about and discuss literature and how to communicate ideas and stories to others through written and spoken words. First graders make important discoveries in mathematics and learn the usefulness of this discipline in their daily lives. Work in class is carefully designed to meet the range of needs and abilities of young learners and explorers and seeks to help each child become confident, resourceful learners. Through work, and play, also an integral part of a first grade curriculum, each child discovers much about the world and how it works as well as a deepening understanding of him/herself.
In second grade, we emphasize the connections between ourselves and the world around us; the past, present and future. The students begin to grasp how they fit into the bigger picture through the study of their personal history and our shared histories. Throughout the year, we foster the development of empathy through our curriculum. We explore how individuals can create change in the world and how each voice counts. Second graders gradually become more responsible and competent, both socially and academically. They are excited about the world and are motivated and enthusiastic about what they learn. We support these aspects of their growth through creative projects and hand-on experiences that nurture and encourage expressiveness and self-awareness.
In third grade the child's developmental level is the focus of teaching. Third graders are beginning to move out of egocentrism--to consider more abstract concepts, to empathize with others and to understand other points of view. This is necessary for understanding literature, social studies, playing math games and interacting with others. Students begin to see themselves as independent and responsible for their own learning. We believe children learn best by doing. Our teaching approach is based on activities, experiential learning, games and projects, all of which enhance each child's knowledge base, deepening his/her understanding of the curriculum. We encourage children to take responsibility for their work and behavior and expect them to do their own homework and work independently in the classroom. Third grade is the year in which children solidify their understanding of the basic skills in all curricular areas, and is the child's transitional year towards becoming a "big kid".
Fourth grade marks the beginning of the transition from early childhood to the world of the preadolescent. Students transition from the lower yard and main building to the upper yard and campus. Fourth graders grow in their ability to think abstractly and to look towards the outside world. They are able to respond deeply and empathetically to societal and global issues, fostered through the beginning study of current events. They are ready to take on more responsibility, both academically, and in a beginning leadership capacity, at school. We support these aspects of their growth by helping students to plan, manage, organize, and prioritize their workload with increasing independence, and to self assess their work regularly. Homework is closely tied to daily class work, which adds meaning to homework and a new level of responsibility to complete it on time for use in class the next day. Students learn many sophisticated computer-based skills and applications, and use computers frequently to aid everyday writing assignments and support growing revising and editing skills. They become more abstract thinkers in mathematics, and are introduced to in depth investigations and projects in that realm. Fourth grade is an especially exciting year of growth and development for your child.
In the fifth grade, the curriculum broadens and deepens, in concurrence with 10 and 11 years-olds, growing abilities to use higher level thinking. The content is more sophisticated, new skills are called upon and built upon, yet there continues to be a balance of directed activities with exploratory and concept-oriented activities. In all cases, process and meaning are emphasized. The curriculum supports the children's burgeoning abilities to take on different perspectives, to walk in someone else's shoes, - in the context of history, of literature, of writing for an audience, of understanding the ideas and strategies of classmates, and, importantly, in the context of building a supportive and empathetic classroom community. Our classroom job system, which places responsibility for basic classroom management in the children's hands, supports 10 and 11 year-olds' developmental thrust towards increasing freedom from adult direction as well as their growing sense of competence as individuals and as members of a group.