Curriculum & Environment

Developmental goals, the curriculum and environment are inseparable – together, they 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,  learning through exploration, play and nature and risk-taking.

 

Classroom Cohorts – Summary:

“Grades K through 8”

ACORNS – Ages 5/6. 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. 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. This program may be a full-time or hybrid schedule based on the family’s selection. Click here to see the scheduling options.


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.

Closing MeetingOne of the best parts of our day is Passion Project time – when students integrate academic skills with real-world projects of their own choosing. We encourage personal goal-setting and group collaboration while carefully observing the students in order to enhance our curriculum with their interests.

In order to achieve a delicate balance of project-based learning, emergent curriculum, and guided/direct instruction, we use tools and experience of:
• DifferentiationCountingPenniesWeek22
• Individual Assessment
• Personal Capacity

Students experience respect for the larger environment and appreciation for the Earth’s natural resources.ElPueblodeLosAngelesWeek26 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, 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 fosters capacity building through teaching on topics such as organic farming, air quality, water conservation, recycling/upcycling everyday items, and more.

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: 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.


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TKG Curriculum includes:

Language Arts

Mathematics

Science

Outdoor Learning/Environmental Studies

Passion Projects

Social Studies

Art

Interpersonal Awareness & Emotional Intelligence

Field trips

Conflict Resolution

Public Speaking/Presentations

Health/Healthy Sexuality

Meet Our Teachers – Click this link to read their bios

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Our strength is in our dedication to our children and our community and a firm belief that schools are for the benefit of its students and the surrounding community. We will define success by the quality of the student & community experience. By staying firmly focused on our values we will create an environment where learning and children will always be at the center of our plans and decision making.

“It all comes back to the importance of action for learning and the fundamental interrelatedness of the different parts of the human being (the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical parts) and of all human beings to one another. Academic achievement, social–emotional competence, and physical and mental health are fundamentally and multiply interrelated. The best and most efficient way to foster any one of those (such as academic achievement) is to foster all of them.” (Diamond, Adele (2010) ‘The Evidence Base for Improving School Outcomes by Addressing the Whole Child and by Addressing Skills and Attitudes, Not Just Content’, Early Education & Development, 21: 5, 780 — 793)

Developmental goals, 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 the 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:

INTELLECTUAL

• 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

EMOTIONAL

• 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

SOCIALTest

• 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

PHYSICAL

• 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

PerspectiveWeek13 

FieldDayWeek30

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 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.

CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENT

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.

CURRICULUM INTENTIONS

All of our plans and lessons weave multiple subjects into 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.WindTunnelExperimentsWeek27

DelaneyWeek12Mathematics – 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 an 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. 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.

UkelelesHolidayCelebrationSocial 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, role-playing, art, storytelling, and projects. The local community will be explored through field trips, presenters, andn research projects 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.

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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.

CONFLICT RESOLUTION

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, acknowledgment 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.

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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