Curriculum: Academic, Social, and Emotional
The world is interesting and learning is fun. So why not teach children to discover this for themselves, using their innate curiosity and their own two hands. At the Common School, students press their own cider, dissect seedpods they find in our garden, design Ancient Egyptian irrigation systems, identify animal tracks in the snow, make gourds into musical instruments, calculate the surface area of a whale, and much more. These interactive, in-depth projects are at the core of our time-tested curriculum.
Our teachers not only guide, challenge, and support students, but also encourage them to take ownership of their education. The Common School offers an innovative alternative to traditional education, built on a rigorous and effective academic program. We know because our graduates
go on to excel in secondary education and attend some of the best colleges and universities in the country.
At The Common School the social and emotional development of children is just as important as their academic growth. Every one of our students knows, when it comes to behavior, there are two key questions: Is it safe? Is it kind?
Here, children learn how to collaborate and that each person has something to offer. At daily class meetings, they learn to be good listeners and to respect each other’s opinions. If there are breaches of classroom norms, teachers use them as opportunities to foster accountability and problem solving. Coming together, students can learn compassion, resolve conflict, and recognize acts of fairness and kindness.
Ask our students and alums what makes The Common School special and most of them will mention the library. It is an exceptional resource for the entire school, but most importantly, it is in the library’s comfy nooks and pillow-lined corners that so many of our students develop a lifelong love of reading.
It is rare that an elementary school of any size has a library, at least not one with 20,000 volumes. At The Common School, the library is central to the life of the school. Each week, all classes visit the library and the teacher-librarian. Younger children look forward to story time, while older students use the resources for in-depth study and independent reading. Since The Common School does not rely on textbooks, students learn to research subjects in-depth by referencing the library’s extensive collection.
Art is integrated into every area of instruction. Children work with a variety of materials and media while learning skills and techniques. Teachers foster artistic expression and creativity across the curriculum.
Weaving, perusing maps, constructing bird houses or joining friends from other classes to paint or play a game are some of the ways children can begin the school day. Choice Time offers opportunities to explore, create, connect, experiment and develop special interests.
Starting in Primary 2, students begin to use computers to access information, develop ideas, and write. Over time, they develop skill in keyboarding, word processing, and using the Internet.
If you enter the Common School at 11:30 on most days, you will hear adults and children singing. Singing is one of the traditions that bind the entire school community. Nursery and Primary 1 classes close each morning with “Wing Sing, and the whole school sings together at “Big Sing” every Friday, when families and friend are also welcome. Weekly formal musical training begins in Primary 1, following the teaching of Carl Orff and Zoltan Kodaly. Elementary students learn to play the recorder and sing in a chorus. Elementary 2 students put on an annual musical theater production. Many Common School alumni have gone on to excel in the musical arts.
At the Common School, we value structured and unstructured play. All students are given ample time to appreciate the school’s outdoor environment, playground, and neighboring nature trails.
Physical Education classes for Primary and Elementary children nurture the attitudes and understanding needed for children to engage in a lifetime of physical activity. Compassion, cooperation, and determination are a focus, as well as the development of strength and skill.
Beginning in the Nursery, all students take Spanish lessons twice a week. The teacher speaks primarily in Spanish and engages students in games, storytelling, songs, and conversation.