Curriculum

curriculum

The Willow School seeks to develop each child’s intellectual, artistic, and physical potential through a comprehensive interdisciplinary curriculum. Children’s natural curiosity is fostered as they acquire the skills, knowledge, and analytical tools necessary for advanced levels of thinking and reasoning.

The integrated curriculum allows students to learn material in great depth as well as to see the connections that naturally exist among subject areas. The primary device for integration of the curriculum is the development of communication skills using the English language. Parallel to that usage is the study of French or Spanish from kindergarten through eighth grade, with Latin introduced in sixth through eighth grades. While the disciplines of mathematics and science, and of language and social studies, are often connected at The Willow School, it is also important for children to learn, for instance, how scientific and technological advances have shaped the ways humans relate to each other or how the use of mathematics determines the design of music and architecture. All learning is spiral; the child returns to skills and subject matter that becomes increasingly complex and challenging.

EDUCATION

The Willow School seeks to develop each child’s intellectual, artistic, and physical potential through a comprehensive interdisciplinary curriculum. Children’s natural curiosity is fostered as they acquire the skills, knowledge, and analytical tools necessary for advanced levels of thinking and reasoning.

The integrated curriculum allows students to learn material in great depth as well as to see the connections that naturally exist among subject areas. The primary device for integration of the curriculum is the development of communication skills using the English language. Parallel to that usage is the study of French or Spanish from kindergarten through eighth grade, with Latin introduced in sixth through eighth grades. While the disciplines of mathematics and science, and of language and social studies, are often connected at The Willow School, it is also important for children to learn, for instance, how scientific and technological advances have shaped the ways humans relate to each other or how the use of mathematics determines the design of music and architecture. All learning is spiral; the child returns to skills and subject matter that becomes increasingly complex and challenging.

All classes emphasize close interaction among students and teachers. The visual and performing arts are woven into the curriculum and daily life of the school, creating opportunities for different modes of self-expression and interpretation. Music is a daily part of the child’s learning, and art is a regular part of the child’s program, both through homeroom activities and with a visiting teacher. Dance and drama occur throughout the year for special programs and presentations, beginning in kindergarten. The creative arts program also includes the telling and writing of stories and grades 5-8 publish a literary journal and newspaper.

Physical education occurs in a variety of ways: from the cooperative games in the younger grades, to climbing and swinging in our creative play area, to hiking in the surrounding woods, to the more standard games in the older grades. The school blends rigorous academics with hands-on activities, and the physical dimensions of activities related to the program provide opportunities for children to gain confidence in their physical presence and accomplishments.

ETHICS

The core of The Willow School experience is the development of a moral and ethical foundation. Through the school’s Core Virtues program, students have opportunities to assimilate and understand such moral imperatives as responsibility, honesty, respect, and compassion. Each month a particular virtue is emphasized in readings, discussions, application to behaviors, and illustrations related to academic material. This program helps children develop the capacity to apply a value system to what they are learning, so that knowledge can be used intentionally to help oneself and others lead more meaningful and constructive lives.

Each morning at the start of the school day, the students and teachers gather together. Morning Gathering, an essential element of the school’s mission, includes a variety of activities: children listen to stories and poems, sing songs, present short drama and dance productions, and in other ways experience the richness and pleasure of family and community. The gathering time places special emphasis on the teaching of virtues, calling the attention of The Willow School children to the importance of living a virtuous life. The intended result is to live through ethical behavior on a conscious and deliberate level.

The faculty and staff at The Willow School are not only teachers of ethical behavior, but also models for living virtuous lives. The mutual reinforcement of these behaviors by both school and home is of paramount importance, if the child is to trust his or her full participation in the school’s learning environment.

ECOLOGY

Outdoor activities foster environmental responsibility and help us to know our place in our natural environment. From this perspective, how humans relate to each other goes hand in hand with how humans relate to their natural surroundings. Service to our community, no matter how small or large, corresponds with service to our habitat, whether local or global. Students learn to be aware of their natural surroundings and to take care of those surroundings by participating in them. Along with that participation is the sense of living frugally, without wastefulness and selfish exploitation merely for the sake of personal comfort or ease. The impulse to recycle, to take only one’s due, and to share one’s belongings with others – these are the dimensions of ecology upon which we intend to build healthy communities.

Often it is the setting that exemplifies the commitment to living healthily and wisely, conscious of the impact we have on our surroundings. A unique feature of The Willow School is our ecological perspective in our approach to building the school. The school’s innovative campus design includes such features as recyclable and renewable building materials, rainwater harvesting, daylight harvesting, native grasses and perennials in the outdoor landscape, photovoltaic on-site electrical generation, and constructed storm water and wastewater wetlands. The school is participating in the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. This program recognizes innovative environmental design and construction on a national basis.

The overall design of The Willow School is to create an environment that represents the connections between learning and the natural world. In this setting, children can grow to understand these relationships and connections, develop a sense of place, and experience the joy and wonder of learning within a framework of academic excellence.