The Schoolhouse elementary program operates as a structured open classroom, with a teacher-student ratio of approximately 1:15. The elementary program serves children from age 4 1/2 years through grade 5, organized into three classroom groups based on their developmental levels: Alpha (for beginning), Tau (for transition), Omega (for ending).
The academic curriculum provides students with a foundation in language arts, mathematics, science, Spanish, political geography, cultural history, art, music, and physical education. A Schoolhouse education aims to help each child gain effective, age-appropriate skills and knowledge in each of these areas, as well as in research and self-government. Each child’s academic work is compiled in a portfolio. Teachers assess student progress by focusing on what has been done well and pointing out areas for improvement, thereby helping each child work to achieve her/his highest potential.
The multi-age nature of the Schoolhouse learning community is one of its great strengths. Recognizing that children learn best from other children, the school schedule is set up to allow daily interaction between students of different ages. Students come together as job partners and reading buddies, while playing at recess, learning together in short courses, and participating in school-wide meetings run by older children who can model behavior and leadership.
Children plan and carry out their academic work within guidelines established by their classroom teacher. Over the years, the self-direction of each child’s learning evolves from simple daily plans to complex weekly schedules. Children learn individually, in pairs, and in small and large groups.
The Schoolhouse places a high value on the process of student-directed learning. By managing their own work time, engaging in active inquiry, conducting research, revising and editing their writing, creating displays, and problem solving, children master the skills they need to be lifelong learners. A Schoolhouse education helps children have a clear understanding of themselves as learners and to know how to access what they need to solve problems.
The Schoolhouse also recognizes the importance of children learning how to effectively demonstrate what they have learned. In school-wide displays children present their knowledge verbally, in writing, visually through drawings, and in a three-dimensional model. The displays and other school performances also provide children with the practice necessary to gain confidence in performance and public speaking.
The Schoolhouse community recognizes and values the unique talents and abilities of each child. Children who have completed a Schoolhouse education have a solid academic foundation and a strong sense of self and of self-worth grounded in their experiences here.