Grade School: Educating the whole child
Through an innovative Grade School program that helps each student develop their own unique skills and capabilities, we nurture confident, creative and capable children eager to embrace the world and all its wonders.
An Integrated Approach
A Living Curriculum
Our grade school classrooms are active places where teachers bring learning to life through lessons that incorporate stories, songs, art and movement to engage the whole child. The heart of each school day is main lesson, a two hour period during which students delve deeply into a core subject for three to four weeks. Over the school year, students produce a unique main lesson book that records their academic learning in art and writing. As they create their main lesson books, students organize and interpret class material, gaining confidence in their ability to learn.
Students retain learning built through regular practice and active engagement. At MWS, daily practice in math and language skills creates a strong foundation for learning, while a carefully sequenced curriculum introduces new concepts in science, history, geography, and literature. At every stage, our teachers seek to engage the imagination, so that each student takes in new ideas deeply and makes them their own. In this way, our students approach learning with an excitement that continues as they encounter new academic challenges.
Students in each grade level are immersed in art, music, movement and language through weekly classes that deepen their academic understanding, critical skills and creativity. Rather than separate electives, our special subjects are integrated into the very core of what students learn. This is part of a holistic approach to education. Our teachers understand that movement and handwork foster cognitive development; music promotes language and social skills; art provides new perspective on the world; and foreign language builds flexibility and tolerance.
A Developmental Approach
Our teachers meet the children where they are to help guide each along their developmental journey. Rather than push students to meet standardized goals, our approach to education is based on recognizing each child as an individual with his or her own strengths and challenges. We pace learning in a way that is suited to children’s development, so they learn with enthusiasm and ease when the time is right.
At our school, children learn by doing. Hands-on experiences form an important part of academic learning in each grade level. Third graders study human subsistence by growing a garden and baking in our stone oven. As part of their botany lessons, fifth graders identify mushrooms and select wood to use in woodworking projects. Each class performs a yearly play as the culmination of their language arts study. These experience deepen classroom learning. They help students develop confidence in the world and lifelong love of learning.
Building healthy relationships
A unique feature of our school is that teachers stay with the same group of students as they transition through multiple grades. As a result, our teachers know their students and can effectively guide their growth and development. This continuity also creates a rich social dynamic in each class, built on an understanding of each person’s unique strengths and challenges. Teachers also foster empathy and awareness through everyday habits: a handshake with each student starts and ends the day, while snack and transition times are opportunities for students to serve each other and care for their classroom together.