At TKG, a student’s development, their sense of relationship to self and others, and the environment are the foundation of a more personal approach to education. We place a high value on the knowledge children bring to school. Their passions, skills, and interests support their academic, physical and social/emotional learning. Personalized learning follows Common Core Standards with an emphasis on the cumulative results, over two-year cycles, rather than year by year timelines. Our environment is responsive to students, teachers, and the community. Meet the teachers who live this, every day, with your children.
Design of the Day
The school day allows for planned and emergent learning experiences. Students are encouraged to find a cooperative balance of individual and community play and learning time. We are on a modified schedule due to COVID changes.
We meet Monday-Thursday from 9 to 1pm. Fridays are reserved for online meetings with teachers, students, and/or parents, as needed.
We don’t do grade levels but if we did, our range is from “grades K through 8.” Currently, we are enrolling for ages 5 through 10. Older co-horts can open based on community needs and financial resources.
ACORNS – Ages 5. Nurturing the joy of learning, the wonder of creating and learning that your voice matters is the work of the Acorn. Our teacher has a strong commitment to social/emotional development and is skilled at inspiring self-propelled learning.
NATURE GROWERS – Ages 6/7. Brain function and the capacity to process academic learning takes a noticeable leap for students in this class. Students asking for more are met by teachers who are ready to dive into practicing foundational skills, foster a social/cultural awareness, and help build confidence.
REDWOODS – Ages 8-10. The world in which to learn becomes much bigger for students in this group yet their self-discovery is becoming more influenced by external sources. Teachers in this group support building academic confidence and skill-building and an awareness/appreciation for mindfulness, self-love, and courage.
EVERGREENS – Ages 10-12 (not currently open but with a minimum of 5 enrolled families, the options are wide open). With more mature brains and on the cusp of a physiological transformation, Evergreens are encouraged to challenge themselves to achieve their potential, have awareness of their social and cultural surroundings supported by teachers who can hold space for social/emotional growth balanced with academic rigor.
13-14 AGE CLASS (mapped but not yet populated). Students in this age are in an explosive creative phase and are beginning to see the adult world in their future. They are encouraged to know that through the practice of: project planning, critical thinking, failure and success, they will build the academic, social and cultural skills required to use their hearts, minds and voices to be innovators and catalysts through the next phase of life. The teachers, mentors & coaches who work with these students have high-expectations with an abundance of trust.
WHY MULTI-AGE CLASSROOMS?
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 priority in deciding how to place students is to support each child’s learning rhythms and support them in getting comfortable with their growth-edges.
We are not on a strict schedule. Our teachers develop learning plans based on guiding standards and classroom pace. We encourage personal goal-setting and group collaboration while observing the students in order to enhance our curriculum with their interests.
Our learning trajectories outline core curriculum that has been mapped to developmental readiness and flow over a two-year cycle. Our focus is on students moving through at a pace that allows for depth and understanding and prioritizes a healthy relationship to learning rather than a race through skills acquisition. Teachers have the freedom to develop lessons and projects using their best options to meet the needs of the class. One of the best parts of our day is Passion Project time – when students integrate academic skills with real-world projects of their own choosing.
In order to achieve a delicate balance of project-based learning, emergent curriculum, and guided/direct instruction, we use tools and experience of:
• Individual Assessment
• Personal Capacity
Students experience 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 live outdoors at least once a week. Also, we strive to minimize our ecological footprint. School-wide practices include: trash free snacks and lunches, use of recycled materials for activities and projects, use of natural ingredients for cleaning, recycling of aluminum, plastics, paper, and glass, and emergent school-wide service projects.
Brain research has shown that the development of emotional intelligence is a significant factor in personal success and happiness. Important to the Knowing Garden is an environment that incorporates: problem-solving skills, relationship with self and others, recognizing emotions and learning how to manage feelings, successful collaboration, and facing situations from a constructive and mindful perspective.
TKG encourages children to organize their own play, solve their problems, and work both independently and in cooperation with others. We believe that conflict is a natural and real part of our everyday world and when it happens, it is viewed as core to social-emotional learning. We do not offer rewards or inflict punishments such as time outs in order to obtain a desired behavioral outcome. We strive to treat difficult situations with respect and concern and learn from them.
We believe commercialism can have negative effects on students’ development of self and creativity. We ask that families and students support us in minimizing character/branded clothing and packs at school as well as let children take the lead on typical holiday discussions. We do not encourage commercial holiday expectations.
Inter-disciplinary Learning includes:
Language Arts: a comprehensive reading and writing experience requires that students develop a healthy relationship to learning. Our teachers offer a blend of instruction and exploration to meet students where they are and where they can and want to go.
Mathematics: a growth-mindset is necessary to develop a healthy relationship to math but to also understand the inner-workings of the computations. Our teachers offer a blend of instruction and self-guided learning to support students in advancing their math goals.
Science: In addition to regular lessons, students have the opportunity to explore their curiosities through events like Thinker Fair.
Outdoor Learning/Environmental Studies: Nature – there are regular opportunities to learn, play and live in the Wilderness because this experience offers mind & body benefits and inspires students to protect our environment. We believe these mindsets matter. We are extremely grateful to have the gift of Wilderness Park, right next door.
Passion Projects: Student-driven projects provide a regular opportunity to develop practical application skills such as project management and goal-setting with an authentic audience with which to share process and product.
Social Studies: Social studies are woven in to daily learning with emergent plans playing a big part of the direction of social studies, including social justice.
Emotional Intelligence: there are always organic opportunities for students to practice developing a positive self image through experiencing autonomy, self-awareness and safety. We celebrate growth-edge and growth-mindset perspectives.
Field trips: These (on average) monthly adventures are designed to reinforce classroom themes and connect students to the world beyond them.
Community Building: organic and structured meetings are designed to build connections within the entire community. Gratitude circle, project work, intentional fundraisers, and regular community gatherings nurture relationship building, and help people connect to community.
Public Speaking/Presentations: Through events like Celebration of Learning or Children’s Business Fair, there are regular opportunities for students to practice negotiating with peers and speaking to groups and audiences to develop confidence and projection skills.
Health/Healthy Sexuality: From Acorns age, there are emergent opportunities to explore positive body image without shame or judgement. Our Evergreen’s class has had (and will in the future!) a formal multi-part class that address healthy sexuality concepts.
Home Practice: This is our way to provide the support needed to continue the classroom learning or projects at home. For younger students, it is a way to get comfortable with self-propelled learning and for older students, it can offer a way to become a more efficient learner. Our “homework” has everything to do with what the individual may need, or want, to feel ownership of their learning.
Movement: There are daily opportunities, at least every 45 minutes, students get outside of the classroom to play and move and listen to their bodily and health needs. They practice activity & relaxation through play.
HOW DO YOU KNOW THEY ARE LEARNING?
Yes, assessment – but one that takes a bigger picture into account.
Students are people who are developing in their own way at their own rate. We favor a holistic approach to assessment that includes academic, social and emotional development of each child. Therefore, assessment of progress is through anecdotal observation, individual student conferences, formative assessments, rubrics, and authentic assessments. There are no letter or rated grades. Students are part of the assessment process by preparing class work portfolios and participating in teacher conferences. Leading children toward measures of achievement in terms of their personal best, is empowering.
We can provide real-time information about student progress and official documentation through:
- Teacher/Parent Office Hours
- Student Portfolios (during covid – work folders)
- Triangle Conferences (Student/Parent/Teacher participation)
- Personal academic trajectories (“report card” if you are used to traditional terminology)
- Whole Child Snapshot
- Teacher Narratives