In this time of unprecedented change, we are tasked with the challenge of finding new ways to foster human connection.
LEARNING AND PLANNING
With flexibility, creativity, and heart, our teachers and parents worked together during the Spring of 2020 to provide consistency and support for our children during a time of uncertainty. Each foray into the use of technology to maintain these connections has was taken deliberately at the discretion of the teachers with an eye to the specific needs of each class. Our teachers learned from this experience and are incorporating what they have learned in their planning for the 2020-21 school year, a year during which it is very likely our grade school will need to pivot to distance learning at some point. (Click to download a PDF overview of our Spring 2019 Distance Learning Guidelines.)
During the 2020-21 school year, we do not anticipate closing our Early Childhood campus except in the case of a direct exposure within a class. However, should a class need to switch to distance learning, our Early Childhood Teachers will support parents in creating rhythm and routine for their children at home. In their weekly e-mails, teachers might include articles, stories, songs, recommended chores, and of course encouragement to spend plenty of time outdoors! Teachers will also be available to answer questions and provide guidance.
We are aware that the need to modify the media policy in your home during a “stay at home” period is a personal decision and one that can only be decided by you in your home. We still favor a focus on direct rather than mediated experiences to support the young child in forming a healthy relationship to the world. Our hope is that in having the children hear songs, stories, verses, or poems from their teachers, it may inspire an organic recall from their own memory. We wish to inspire movements or gestures that come from the children rather than asking them to mimic gestures from a screen. As such, we do not anticipate holding Zoom classes for our youngest students.
We strongly encourage practical work and chores. Your children are strong and capable. Sample chores suitable for young children include: cutting vegetables; setting and clearing the table; spraying (spray bottle filled with water) and wiping surfaces; sweeping the floor with a brush and dustpan; carrying small baskets of laundry; and folding washcloths and napkins. Having regular chores is particularly important for children who are in the five to six age range. Children who are five and six are beginning to recognize how they fit into the family structure and how they can contribute to a healthy home life routine by having regular chores and practical duties at home.
We also strongly recommend time outside each morning and afternoon. This serves many purposes, from allowing children to notice ever-changing nature to providing them with the opportunity to run freely and engage in gross motor movement that cannot be experienced inside most homes. Gross motor movement such as running, jumping, hopping, climbing, crawling, rolling, leaping, hanging, skipping, and balancing is crucial to forming the physical body during the first seven years. In addition to inspiring wonder in your children and kindling hope in the future, nature walks with your young children can also be stress-reducing for parents.
In the early elementary grades, our teachers continue a focus on developing rhythm and routine at home, with the addition of daily and weekly assignments. Schoolwork at this stage is designed to engage the children but also refine and reinforce critical math, spelling, writing, and reading skills.
In addition to skills-based schoolwork, students in 4th and 5th grade might be assigned more project-based lessons (5th grade State Projects, for example). Establishing a daily and weekly routine helps students better work independently. Teachers support parents in working to maintain their children’s social connections.
The Middle School day is fairly rigorous and students are expected to maintain an orderly work area and daily schedule, turning assignments in on time. Video calls and Google Classroom allow students to check in with each other and share questions with their class teachers and each other.