Child Centered. Teacher Nurtured.
Intellectual Curiosity and Academic Rigor
Whether learning to add with sticks or beans, writing their own play, or drawing what they’re imagining, children are constantly learning. By integrating academic rigor with creativity and in-depth exploration, students learn and understand complex and advanced concepts, while developing their curiosity and imagination.
A love for reading, written and oral storytelling, and rich language are integral to Slate School’s curriculum. Teachers and children spend long stretches of the day reading books, introducing them to the magic of beautiful, enriching literature. In support of the acquisition of literacy skills in a student-centered classroom, a wide variety of approaches are embraced. Reading activities are followed by creative opportunities, such as drawing or painting one’s own scenes, or writing one’s own book. Students may also extend stories through drama and writing with many opportunities for retelling and discussing story elements using child-created props.
Children are encouraged to be inquisitive and to delve deep into all that there is to learn about the world. Over the course of a year, each child selects several topics to study in-depth, and designs their own explorations. They build public speaking skills by frequently sharing their findings with their classmates and school community. This cross-curricular approach engages students in active learning that makes every day an exciting opportunity for discovery and subsequent investigation.
Children learn science through active experiments, as well as by their own creative experimental process. At Slate School, the environment is the master teacher, and children spend time daily in nature, making connections to their own interests and learning through hands-on play to understand and wonder about their world. Through this discovery, teachers seize every opportunity to develop necessary skills and encourage deeper learning across the curriculum.
At Slate School, technology is utilized in a limited and responsible manner. We believe that learning is best achieved through hands-on, collaborative experiences. Teachers can apply technology when appropriate and necessary, but learning is best achieved without screens and digital devices.
Slate School's students are evaluated through classroom observation and direct interactions between the student and teachers. Teachers provide insightful written narrative reports that discuss the student's achievements, strengths, and challenges. An open dialogue is encouraged between parents and the teachers.
Nature and Natural Learning
Nature and natural learning are at the core of Slate School's mission and vision. With a bucolic 25-acre campus, the trees and wildlife are integral to the science, math, writing, and art curriculum. The recreational area alongside the school buildings is designed to be a balance between open space, nature-themed play structures, and the organic gardens and greenhouse. Our mud kitchen provides limitless opportunities for children to experiment and engage in imaginary play.
The Slate School campus extends learning to the existing native habitats, which are accessible by pathways and gathering spaces. Inquiry-based ecosystem studies foster a sense of stewardship for the land and a growing awareness of their place in a community, both human and natural. Students learn about the importance of seasonal changes and basic astronomy, agricultural history and wildlife identification. They tie together scientific observation, writing, reading, and math in an entirely interdisciplinary approach.
Environmental artists like Andy Goldsworthy inspire the children to notice and create patterns and beautiful images in the natural environment. They enjoy imaginary play in all seasons outdoors, creating their own nests and fairy houses with sticks and natural materials.
Math also comes alive through meaningful nature-based activities. The organic garden provides each child with comprehensive learning opportunities, ranging from counting seeds in fruits to weighting vegetables and measuring cooking supplies. Scientific observations are made about the behavior and habitats of indigenous wildlife. Math incorporates visual observations of wildlife, such as adding, subtracting, and visually classifying the turkeys and other animals seen on the meadow each day. Students make comparisons and develop and test generalizations based on observations of patterns and relationships in nature. They take these observations back to the classroom and model these situations using skills like counting, combining, and separation of sets, with objects, pictures, symbols, and open sentences. The children use nonstandard units as well as everyday objects to compare, estimate, and order measures of length, area, capacity, weight, and temperature.
Slate School reimagines elementary education by integrating creative arts into all aspects of the curriculum. The performing arts and visual arts are combined creatively with the students' collaborative learning. Art, music, and drama are woven throughout the fabric of the day. Students use new artistic ideas to explore academic concepts, or to express their ideas. Through this approach, all learners speak the language that they feel best communicates their understanding.
History and social studies come to life for Slate School's students. While learning history, the children draw and paint the historic time periods based on their imagination. They learn about architecture by building cities using wood, cardboard, and paper. They also study historic art pieces to understand the settings, dress, activities, and cultural anthropology of the times. The students additionally create their own performances to further imagine and delve into the time periods being studied.