We believe in cultivating the development of the whole child. We believe in hands on, practical learning. True, deep learning comes from multiple connections to the mind, heart and body.
Care must be taken to balance these connections, especially not to push the child’s mental development at the expense of his emotional and physical development. We wish for children to be able to grow at their own pace, to develop all of their latent abilities and capacities, and to ripen in their own time. The teacher uses sensitivity and patience to attend to the child’s personal unfolding. Thematic study is the major tool used to unite all areas of the curriculum, and to fuel the child’s ongoing deep interest in the learning process. Art, music, and story help create an emotional connection to the theme, simultaneously fanning children’s creative fires, and connecting them to universal values.
Children experience the value of learning in different settings.
There is time for individual work, work in pairs, work in teams, and work as a whole class. Children may be paired for their special abilities to help each other and to bring out the best in each other. In math, for example, children may be grappling with a particular type of problem. Children may be assigned into teams to work on the problem. After a period of teamwork, the teams report back to the class their findings. Each group is listened to carefully, and the whole class finds the value in each contribution. It becomes clear that there are multiple solutions to the problem. The teams then go back to work, examining the various solutions that have been proposed. A teacher aids the student’s quest for understanding, never giving the answer directly, or even indicating the paths to resolving the problem, but carefully guiding their quest and using different strategies to help them to keep focused on their work at hand. When a student has reached understanding from their own work and sweat, then they have attained insight that will stick with them for life.
Children learn to rely on the strong, coherent vital force of a class group for solving difficult problems, intellectual, emotional and social. At the same time, children flourish as a result of the group process which brings out the uniqueness and gifts of each individual. The social curriculum at the Village School values the individual as an integral member of a larger group. The relationship between teacher and student is based on mutual respect. Multiage classrooms provide excellent conditions for accommodating different learning styles and for learning respect for individual differences.
The Village School uses the natural world as the setting for much of its learning. Children go on walks, study forestry, dig and plant in the garden, make life drawings, keep plant life journals, and so on. Science is the study of nature, including the slow unearthing of the workings of the laws of the universe in everyday life. Our physical education program takes advantage of our lovely 55 acre location, with hiking in the fall, cross-country skiing in the winter and soccer in the spring.
We aim that when a child completes the 6th grade at the Village School, they will have a deep-seated belief in themselves as a learner, including the ability to adapt with changes. They will know themselves as unique and necessary contributors to a group, and will be confident in the group process as a way to find solutions to problems. We aim that children will leave the Village School with respect for nature, so that they can take their places confidently as stewards of this planet when they reach adulthood.