Personalized education is a creative process at The Knowing Garden. Hands-on experiences and projects are an important part of that process and we strive to meet students where they are. Our teacher carefully observes the development of each student while leading them to challenges that involve peer-problem solving, interpersonal communications, negotiation, and recognition of different points of view as part of the everyday experience. Teachers are very accessible and collaborative. Weekly newsletters offer insight in to what your student is doing in class and a snapshot of the community at-large.
Developmental goals, the curriculum and environment are inseparable. Together, they form a developmental approach to education that enables a more individualized format. We place a high value on the knowledge children bring to school. Their existing skills and interests are used as a starting point to explore broader learning goals. The curriculum strongly considers the guidelines established by the Common Core Education Standards, with an emphasis on the cumulative results rather than year by year requirements.
In the journey to full expression of each student’s potential, we focus on the intellectual, emotional, social and physical areas of development and growth. We encourage our students to grow with the following guidelines:
• Develop confidence as a competent learner
• Pursue information and master new skills
• Nurture diverse learning styles
• Approach experiences with curiosity and inquisitiveness
• Develop confidence in problem-solving and decision-making
• Organize and communicate thoughts and ideas
• Develop perseverance to complete a project
• Formulate personal learning goals
• Strengthen a positive self-image
• Develop autonomy, initiative, and a sense of competence
• Responsibility for self and actions
• Develop self-control and patience
• Establish a sense of trust and safety
• Cooperate with others
• Respect the rights of others and accept behavioral limits
• Develop personal values
• Consider and listen to different perspectives
• Care about, empathize with and help others
• Accept and understand differences
• Take alternative approaches to solving problems
• Communicate confidently with peers and adults
• Develop effective leadership skills
• Develop and apply safety rules
• Understand the bodily need for activity and relaxation
• Exercise fine motor control and eye/hand coordination
• Improve muscle coordination, increase endurance
• Learn positive ways to release tension
• Sense the importance of teamwork and cooperation
DESIGN OF THE DAY
At The Knowing Garden, students, teachers and parents work together to construct meaningful and engaging activities. We follow a learn-by-doing philosophy which taps into the student’s interests and natural curiosity. Each day, children will have opportunities to engage in whole class, small group, partner and independent activities. Our framework engages children in purposeful activity – they inspire the plan of the day, contribute ideas, and feel a sense of safety and consistency. Educational goals for the children are based on an understanding of the individual child’s needs, abilities and interests. The teachers act as facilitators, challenging and supporting students to extend themselves and construct knowledge. Some whole group teaching takes place in the form of mini-lessons and discussion and much of time is spent in small collaborative groups doing project-based activities and learning exercises. Interaction with nature is essential for healthy cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development. Therefore, outdoor play and discovery is an integral part of The Knowing Garden program.
School begins at 9:00am and ends at 3:00pm, except on Mondays. Monday is our Outdoor Learning Day and school ends at 2:00pm.
There are many planning and reflection meetings/moments throughout the day. The first half of the day is called Open Flow: our time to be tuned in to the development and progression of academic skills and experience. We have time for movement, snack, lunch and brain breaks (mindfulness). We encourage children to listen to and know their bodies including the need for snack and bathroom breaks. The afternoon is called Deep Learning: our time to integrate academic skills with real world projects and provocations. We encourage personal goal-setting and group collaboration while carefully observing the students in order to enhance our curriculum with their interests.
The school year begins after Labor Day (or later in that week) and ends in mid-June. Please consult the current calendar that is distributed at the orientation meeting.
Student interactions are an important part of the learning experience at TKG and we are committed to maintaining small class size with low student-teacher ratios. Cross-age groupings, based on the teachers’ observations and recommendations, stimulate children’s thinking and cognitive growth. Academic groups are crafted based on developmental capacity with an emphasis on giving students ownership of their intellectual and emotional development. The roles of leader and follower are exchanged; mentors and learners develop while capitalizing on student’s strengths and abilities.
Our students will be grouped into developmental multi-aged groups informed by the individual’s developmental growth and stage within the classroom community. We will always support each child’s learning rhythms and help them develop concepts as a continuous and individual process.
The indoor and outdoor classroom is structured in a way to encourage cooperation and exploratory learning. There are community tables for collaborative learning and group projects. There are also spaces available for children to work individually at their own pace. The classroom is arranged to allow for ease of movement and comfort.
All of our plans and lessons weave multiple subjects in to the experience rather than segment them into intervals or subject driven lessons.
Language Arts – The language arts program is designed to encourage and support the students’ expression of their own thoughts, ideas, and feelings through daily journal writing, story plays, self-published books, storytelling, and games. Young children first encode meaning through symbols in their writing, and then they learn the decoding process of reading. Letter and word recognition are further developed through the use of games, poetry, songs, and phonics. During Reader’s Workshop students will experience the enjoyment of reading through the selection of quality literature, studying specific authors, providing time for silent and partner reading, reading at home, and giving students the opportunity to share and discuss their learning with peers. In Writer’s Workshop, children gain confidence as authors. They learn to listen, receive supporting feedback and become editors for one another.
Mathematics – The goals of our math program are to support students in constructing mathematical understanding with real world applications as well as to develop confidence in their mathematical abilities. The program presents lessons focusing on number awareness, measurement skills, logic, problem-solving, probability, classification, geometry, patterns, multiplication, division, and fractions through the use of hands-on activities, directed lessons, independent explorations and whole class discussions. Children will communicate their thinking process through math journals, presentations, and group discussions, fostering the recognition of various strategies for solving problems. The aim will be the understanding of mathematical relationships acquired through meaningful problem-solving experiences. In this way, a positive attitude toward math develops.
Science – The science program is built on hands-on activities and investigations which serve to develop understanding of scientific principles. Children will be exposed to new information, materials and problems. They will be asked to make observations and comparisons to question, experiment, predict and draw conclusions. Students will keep science observation journals. We’ll explore the natural world by going on hikes, examining the ocean, visiting the marshes, investigating puddles, gardening, digging and simply observing, listening and sensing. Thus, we’ll create connections between scientific concepts and the community.
Outdoor Learning/Environmental Studies – Students are taught respect for the larger environment and appreciation for the Earth’s natural resources. In response to the nature deficit facing children today, we make a curricular intention to have school in nature one day a week – rain or shine. As a school, we strive to minimize our ecological footprint. School-wide practices include: trash free snacks and lunches, composting, use of recycled materials for activities and projects, our own food garden, use of natural ingredients for cleaning, recycling of aluminum, plastics, paper, and glass, and school-wide service projects for the purpose of creating a sustainable future. Our curriculum includes capacity building through teaching on topics such as organic farming, water conservation, creative ways to reuse/repurpose everyday items, and more.
Social Studies – The social studies program provides students an understanding of the world around them through the study of history, geography, sociology, anthropology, political science, and economics. This exploration will provide students with opportunities to make personal and concrete connections between the past, present, and future. This program will also nurture a deep understanding of human dynamics through the use of multi-cultural literature, family histories, music, drama and role-playing, art, storytelling and projects. The local community will be explored through field trips, presenters, research projects, and service learning opportunities as a way to inspire conscientious local and global citizens. We emphasize critical thinking skills, analysis of cause and effect, and personal relevance. Through these studies, children will become conscious of their unique role in the community and the greater world.
Performing and Creative Arts – Art gives children the opportunity to express themselves emotionally, enhance self-confidence, use their imagination, actively engage the five senses, and create in ways that inspire others. Art also promotes self-discovery and active learning through engaging in the creative process. We will experiment with design, color, texture, shape, and form using various mediums. Our music program will support student’s awareness of sounds, rhythm, form, expression, voice and the joy of music. The performing arts program will provide for dramatic performances, storytelling, poetry, puppetry, dance, story-plays, and more.
Physical Education – The PE program is aimed at the development of motor skills through a variety of engaging activities and games. Bi-Weekly, a CrossFit coach provides focused physical education and fun. Group games will aim to be challenging and fun in an atmosphere of cooperation and success. The main objectives are to enable children to feel present in their own bodies, to promote self-confidence, and to encourage enjoyment in physical activity.
Interpersonal Awareness & Emotional Intelligence – Brain based research has shown that the development of emotional intelligence is a significant factor in personal success and happiness. Important to the Knowing Garden is a curriculum that incorporates: effective problem solving skills, relationship with self and others, recognizing emotions and learning how to manage feelings, successful collaboration, facing situations in a constructive and mindful fashion.
Children are encouraged to organize their own play, solve their problems, and work both independently and in cooperation with others. Conflicts are a natural and real part of our everyday world and part of the learning process. We strive to treat difficult situations with respect and concern and learn from them. We encourage children to solve problems on their own, with guidance from parents and teachers. We ask that the adult be a facilitator, offering support, acknowledgement and safety. Children learn to practice negotiation, take responsibility, and be involved in resolving conflict. Through these interactions, children gain a strong voice, are empowered to effect change, and know that their concerns have worth. Children are given space to make many decisions for themselves. We do not offer rewards or inflict punishments such as time outs in order to obtain a desired behavioral outcome. If the physical well-being or safety of a student is in jeopardy, an adult will step in to intervene and assist in conflict resolution. All teachers and staff are trained in effective and respectful conflict resolution strategies.