Our Approach to Learning
At Blue Rock School we believe that providing children with opportunities to question, listen, and make connections to their own experience, as well as the experience of those around them, is essential for their development as responsive human beings. This is the cornerstone of our philosophy, and we value this deeper process of learning more than the specific content that is learned at any given time. The children learn by investigation and hands-on exploration. We integrate many subjects into our daily activities and encourage a multi-disciplinary approach rather than solely the acquisition of facts. We trust that the students’ ability to engage in process-oriented education and deep inquiry will serve them well no matter what interests they pursue.
Community is essential to the mission of Blue Rock School
The teacher is aware of the classroom as a learning collaborative where the needs of the individual are considered within the context of the larger group. Children work together, learning from each other, and special attention is given to the development of positive social skills. The teacher brings specific lessons and ideas to the classroom while also responding to and including children’s interests as she introduces the material in a variety of ways. Lessons are conducted in different formats: the whole class, small groups, or individually.
Blue Rock teachers recognize and respect the unique pace and learning style of each child.
In addition to preparing curriculum in all subjects that support our specific benchmarks for each grade, teachers also develop material and work with students at various levels within a class. For instance, some first graders may be doing second grade level work in one area of study and still mastering a kindergarten benchmark in another. Each student naturally has his or her unique combination of strengths, as well as skills that need further growth.
Actual learning is a continuum.
Our belief is that with consistent exposure to and exploration of concepts and the development of social, academic and artistic skills, the children develop proficiency without compromising their joy of learning.
Kindergarten students come to school every morning at 9 am and stay until noon for the minimum half-day program, or stay until 3:15pm for an optional full day. Parents can choose full days for certain days of the week, or for every day of the week. The possibility of gradually expanding a child’s participation at school serves our youngest students well as they become more comfortable leaving home and engaging in school activities.
Our Kindergarten Program
is organized in such a way that, periods of free play alternate with periods of focused activity. We encourage learning through play because our intention is to nourish the children’s natural curiosity and innate desire to learn. We strive to help the children develop the confidence and security needed to take risks in thoughts and experiences that lead to new understandings. We do this by engaging the whole child – mind, body and feelings. Learning to work together and to listen and respect each other are important parts of the social learning that happens while children negotiate decisions on the playground, help each other in “circle,” partner during directed activities as well as in the unstructured play. It is in unstructured play where so much important learning is done.
As members of a classroom community, we encourage the children to express their own thoughts and feelings while at the same time they learn to listen and respect others, both children and teachers. Within our daily gatherings at circle time, Spanish, snack, music, art, and other group activities, we create opportunities for the children to develop their creativity, and their ability to pay attention, to follow directions, and to function as part of a joyous community.
Stories are told every day in Kindergarten,
creating an opportunity for children to listen and to imagine themselves within the stories. The storytelling often sparks a dialogue as to what might happen, what the character should do, the fairness of it all or how the children can relate the story to their lives. The children also create stories every day that are acted out, drawn, narrated, or written. These activities, along with the songs we sing, the games we play, and the props created to go along with dramatic play, are just some of the ways we encourage self-expression and build a strong foundation for reading and writing.
Math often comes up organically throughout the kindergarten day, seen in the counting during snack set-up, a subtraction problem during a story, or taking turns making rhythms for the others to follow with clapping hands or stomping feet. There are also many materials and activities available to the students. The children build with unit blocks, create pictures with pattern blocks, put together jigsaw puzzles, and use dice in board games. More structured math activities include sorting and classifying materials, counting along with simple addition and subtraction problems, and recognizing shapes and spatial relations through origami and math manipulatives. All of these experiences contribute to the development of mathematical reasoning in the children that comes from a place of understanding.
An essential part of our Kindergarten program is the opportunity for repeated and daily outdoor play. By regularly spending time on the playground, gardens and woods of our campus, children are able to initiate activities that help them to explore the world around them, as well as develop their physical skills, interests, and imaginations.
A cloud flies through the warm spring air slowly and quietly.
A baby goose flies through the cloud—Whoa! Says the cloud to himself. The cloud has seen many things like cats and many other animals
on the ground looking up at him. And the birds—robins, bluebirds, mockingbirds, all birds in the air.
It has rained on earth many times, evaporated and flown back up in the pure air and become a cloud again.
Sometimes he wishes he could be a dog or a panda, something with legs so he could walk on all fours.
But he likes being a cloud in his silvery white suit and tie, floating in the sky. -by Tess, Blue Rock Student