Curriculum & Environment

A student’s development, their academic and social-emotional learning plans, 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 existing skills and interests are used as a starting point to expand their academic, physical and social/emotional autonomy. The curriculum considers the guidelines established by the Common Core Education Standards with an emphasis on the cumulative results rather than year by year timelines. Our environment is constantly evolving to meet the needs of the classroom and to create the opportunity for nurturing relationships and learning through exploration, play and nature. 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. Students and teachers take group breaks approximately every 45 minutes. Please see COVID schedule & protocol information (we are currently fully-distanced and this school year ends on June 18).

Schedule Outline

TKG Full Day school is Tuesday through Friday from  9 am to 3 pm. The school year begins on Sept 8, 2020 and ends on June 18, 2021. On Mondays, student pick up is at 1pm to facilitate parent/student connection to school learning and teacher planning time. Field Day/Outdoor classroom may be available in the near future.

8:00 am Before School Crafts & Tutoring (additional programming & cost)

9:00 am Drop Off. Tuesday through Thursday, Passion project workshop is from 9 to 10, parents welcome

12:00 pm Lunch Hour

1:00 pm Mondays, Pick Up – This time is to encourage Homeschool work with parents to stay connected and become very familiar with student’s learning trajectory. Teachers will be collaborating and planning for the week. Field Day/Outdoor Classroom may be available in the future.

1:00 pm Mon-Fri – ACORNS Pick up

3:00 pm Tue – Fri Pick up

3-5 pm Tue – Fri After School Crafts & Tutoring (additional programming & cost)

This is a general schedule without COVID protocols and subject to change based on student needs.

Classroom Cohorts

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.

TKG Curriculum

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:
• Differentiation
• 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.HolidayShow2012-for Letter

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 providing real-time information about student progress and official documentation through:

  • Teacher/Parent Office Hours
  • Student Portfolios
  • Triangle Conferences (Student/Parent/Teacher participation)
    • Personal academic trajectories (“report card” if you are used to traditional terminology)
    • Whole Child Snapshot
    • Teacher Narratives

OUR FOUNDING COMMUNITY

Founding Teachers: Elizabeth Bloom, Dana Holman, Jessica Schilling-Wigley

Parent Board: Josef Bobek, Jessica Mayotte, Daniela Samms, Trish Vasquez

Read more about the Founding Community at www.knowinggarden.org

Our school program will encompass:

·Environmental Studies

·History

·Language Arts

·Mathematics

·Performing and Creative Arts

·Physical Education

·Science

·Social Studies

·World Cultures

Practical elements of the curriculum include:

Experiential Learning through Generative Lesson Plans

We utilize project based and experiential learning, an approach to instruction and learning that supports a person’s need for hands-on experiences and choices in what they learn, how they engage in learning, and how they show they have learned. Projects may be short or long term and may be created by an individual, partners, or in groups. In project-based learning, students develop their academic skills as well as skills in organization, time management, communication, cooperation, compromise, interpretation, and creativity.

Whole Child

We are committed to nurturing all aspects of a person – intellectual, physical, emotional, social, creative, and cultural. Students engage in activities throughout the day, week, and year that help them develop as positive contributing members of our community. We focus on developing students’ skills in cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, self-awareness, and self-control.

Globally & Community Minded Real World Experiences

We believe it is important to do things that connect to and affect the community. Our themes emerge from current events the students know and care about. Our students have opportunities to strengthen their skills as global citizens through service learning projects, community outreach, charity events, identifying and addressing real world problems, recognizing and embracing differences, and being agents of change. Our goal is to help students develop as life-long learners and citizens of the global community.

Nurturing of Emotional, Social and Cognitive Development

We assert that being competent socially is as important as being competent academically.We see that valuable cognitive growth occurs through fulfilling social interaction. We employ a conscious discipline policy wherein both adults and children learn the skills needed to successfully manage life tasks such as learning, forming relationships, communicating effectively, being sensitive to others’ needs and getting along with others, while getting their own needs met. Facilitator-Teachers are taught to draw from within themselves to become responsive instead of reactive during moments of conflict. In this way, facilitator-teachers positively influence students by being models of empathetic, cooperative, and effective problem solvers, while being mentors in establishing relationships.

Innovative Thinking

We believe in the importance of creative, innovative, and critical thinking. We encourage our students to be risk-takers who are able to think independently to develop solutions to problems. In addition, we recognize that students need to be problem finders as well as problem solvers.

Asset-Based Assessments

Our goal in assessment is to understand and know the complexity of each person’s development rather than to compare students with each other.If we are able to uphold the tenet that each person is unique, then it is imperative that this belief be reflected in our practices of assessment, as well as instruction. The constructivist view of learning sees students as full of knowledge and resource. The focus on assets is extremely important in the fostering of a supportive climate for students. By identifying each student’s strengths we encourage them to be resourceful and recognize the resources they possess. Rather than beginning with what students don’t know or can’t do, we begin with what students do know and can do and we build from there.

Thematic/Integrated Learning

Our curriculum is organized largely around themes that integrate core subjects like math, reading, writing, science, and humanities within the exploration of a broader topic.Thematic learning is based on the belief that students learn and retain information and skills best when what they are learning is connected to the real world and related to things they already know. The themes are determined based on what is developmentally appropriate and in the interests of the learners. Some of the themes that would be used are: The Community, Life Cycles, The Environment, Immigration, and the South Bay Past, Present, and Future.

Outdoor/Environmental Emphasis

Research shows that self

THE KNOWING GARDEN philosophy encompasses these principles: the first is that students are complex, creative individuals who learn deeply through methods which encourage them to become innovative critical thinkers. Their desire to learn can be trusted. The second is that optimal learning is achieved when it is built upon student interests and real life issues and problems. Third, that a flexible structure which includes heterogeneous and multi-age group arrangements for students is the best way to facilitate learning. Lastly, that the best environment for learning is a peaceful one that embraces freedom with responsibility and addresses the balance between the needs of the individual and the needs of the community.

 

OUR FOUNDING COMMUNITY

Founding Teachers: Elizabeth Bloom, Dana Holman, Jessica Schilling-Wigley

Parent Board: Josef Bobek, Jessica Mayotte, Daniela Samms, Trish Vasquez

Read more about the Founding Community at www.knowinggarden.org

 

 

Our school program will encompass:

• Environmental Studies

• History

• Language Arts

• Mathematics

• Performing and Creative Arts

• Physical Education

• Science

• Social Studies

• World Cultures

 

Practical elements of the curriculum include:

 

Experiential Learning through Generative Lesson Plans

We utilize project based and experiential learning, an approach to instruction and learning that supports a person’s need for hands-on experiences and choices in what they learn, how they engage in learning, and how they show they have learned. Projects may be short or long term and may be created by an individual, partners, or in groups. In project-based learning, students develop their academic skills as well as skills in organization, time management, communication, cooperation, compromise, interpretation, and creativity.

Whole Child

We are committed to nurturing all aspects of a person – intellectual, physical, emotional, social, creative, and cultural. Students engage in activities throughout the day, week, and year that help them develop as positive contributing members of our community. We focus on developing students’ skills in cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, self-awareness, and self-control.

Globally & Community Minded Real World Experiences

We believe it is important to do things that connect to and affect the community. Our themes emerge from current events the students know and care about. Our students have opportunities to strengthen their skills as global citizens through service learning projects, community outreach, charity events, identifying and addressing real world problems, recognizing and embracing differences, and being agents of change. Our goal is to help students develop as life-long learners and citizens of the global community.

 

 

 

 

Nurturing of Emotional, Social and Cognitive Development

We assert that being competent socially is as important as being competent academically. We see that valuable cognitive growth occurs through fulfilling social interaction. We employ a conscious discipline policy wherein both adults and children learn the skills needed to successfully manage life tasks such as learning, forming relationships, communicating effectively, being sensitive to others’ needs and getting along with others, while getting their own needs met. Facilitator-Teachers are taught to draw from within themselves to become responsive instead of reactive during moments of conflict. In this way, facilitator-teachers positively influence students by being models of empathetic, cooperative, and effective problem solvers, while being mentors in establishing relationships.

Innovative Thinking

We believe in the importance of creative, innovative, and critical thinking. We encourage our students to be risk-takers who are able to think independently to develop solutions to problems. In addition, we recognize that students need to be problem finders as well as problem solvers.

Asset-Based Assessments

Our goal in assessment is to understand and know the complexity of each person’s development rather than to compare students with each other. If we are able to uphold the tenet that each person is unique, then it is imperative that this belief be reflected in our practices of assessment, as well as instruction. The constructivist view of learning sees students as full of knowledge and resource. The focus on assets is extremely important in the fostering of a supportive climate for students. By identifying each student’s strengths we encourage them to be resourceful and recognize the resources they possess. Rather than beginning with what students don’t know or can’t do, we begin with what students do know and can do and we build from there.

Thematic/Integrated Learning

Our curriculum is organized largely around themes that integrate core subjects like math, reading, writing, science, and humanities within the exploration of a broader topic. Thematic learning is based on the belief that students learn and retain information and skills best when what they are learning is connected to the real world and related to things they already know. The themes are determined based on what is developmentally appropriate and in the interests of the learners. Some of the themes that would be used are: The Community, Life Cycles, The Environment, Immigration, and the South Bay Past, Present, and Future.

 

 

 

 

Outdoor/Environmental Emphasis

Research shows that self‐directed play in nature is the most effective way for children to develop a deep bond of affection for the natural world. From this love of nature comes the passionate commitment to environmental stewardship that has guided such pioneers as John Muir and Rachel Carson. Free play can be included in environmental education alongside information‐based programs so that children can develop the passion and skills needed to protect the earth.

 

directed play in nature is the most effective way for children to develop a deep bond of affection for the natural world. From this love of nature comes the passionate commitment to environmental stewardship that has guided such pioneers as John Muir and Rachel Carson.Free play can be included in environmental education alongside informationbased programs so that children can develop the passion and skills needed to protect the earth.[1]


[1] Wild Zones, How to Create and Enjoy Them A Toolkit, 2008

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