Humanities & Languages
English Language Arts
Reading, Composition, Poetry, Grammar, Spelling, and Vocabulary
In the Forest School, students learn valuable pre-reading and writing skills through songs, games, and activities. Although Forest School instruction is largely oral, students work on basic handwriting skills daily. We use a "cursive first" approach, which many young children actually find easier to master. As students show readiness for further writing expectations, they practice daily copy-word exercises that are designed to build writing stamina and to teach spelling and basic grammar.
Once they show signs of reading readiness, our teachers work with each child individually to teach phonics and sight words. As fluency improves, the emphasis shifts to comprehension. We use a phonics-based approach, and our reading specialists works with Forest and younger Elementary-aged students daily, in small, level-based groups. We recognize and respect the developmental aspects of learning to read, and our goal is to give students the tools they need to master reading when they are ready.
Starting in 2nd or 3rd grade, Elementary students begin studying grammar and literature in small reading groups. They learn to analyze literature through discussion with both teachers and peers, and begin to write down their reactions and opinions about the books they read. Students in 3rd-6th grade take a weekly poetry class, where they read, discuss, and write poetry. all Students are encouraged to read books of their choice for fun, both in and out of school, and to share and review books among their peers. Our library contains thousands of fiction and non-fiction books which students are free to explore. We are very lucky to have a librarian on our staff, who helps guide reading recommendations, and is excited to share a deep love of children's literature with the students.
Middle School students continue to take a literature and grammar class four times each week, a weekly poetry class, and a writing-intensive US history class. They read literature and poetry, discuss them in small groups, and learn to analyze and think critically about the sources. Middle School students also continue to study grammar, vocabulary, handwriting, and spelling.
One of our lead Forest School teachers is a native Mandarin Chinese speaker, and she introduces Forest School students to Chinese in a fun, conversational way. Although we are not a true immersion program, young students are naturally curious about other languages, and quickly learn basic conversational skills. Games and activities introduce vocabulary, grammar, and some character writing. Students learn about Chinese culture, holidays, and history through crafts and conversation.
Elementary and Middle School students study Mandarin Chinese three times each week. They learn Mandarin vocabulary, grammar, conversational skills, and character writing. Classes are fun and interactive, with a variety of grafts, games, projects, and activities. Our goal is to prepare students for the SAT IIs by the end of our Middle School program
Why on earth would an Elementary-aged student need to study Latin? Because it's a fascinating, fun language that's like a logic puzzle. Students learn all about Roman history and mythology as they study simple Latin vocabulary and grammar through fun, project-based curriculum. Along the way, they learn a considerable amount of English grammar and vocabulary, in a context that allows them to make comparisons across a variety of languages. 3rd and 4th graders use the Minimus series.
Middle School students take a Latin class once a week. Latin encourages students to think logically, to recognize different language patterns, and significantly improves knowledge of English grammar and vocabulary. Our Middle School students use the textbook series Oxford Latin Course series, and our goal is for students to complete the 3-book series between 5th and 8th grades.
Middle School students interested in taking a modern Romance language have the option of learning French. This is designed to be a 3 year middle school program that will allow students to transfer into a high school French program with peers who have taken Middle School French at other schools.
Elementary History - World History
Our Elementary students learn about this history of the world over five years. These classes emphasize stories and hands-on projects, with increased emphasis on research, source analysis, and expository writing as they age up.
1st grade: Prehistory and Ancient History – Students learn about this history of the earth, physical geography, human evolution, prehistory, and world history through about 800 BCE.
2nd grade: The Classical World – Students study the rise (and fall) of the first great empires, during the period from about 800 BCE-600 CE.
3rd grade: The Medieval World – Students study the period from about 600 through about 1400, with a special emphasis on the pre-contact Americas in the Autumn.
4th grade: The Early Modern World – Students learn about the increased globalization and cross-cultural clashes from about 1400-1900.
5th grade: The Modern World – The final elementary school history class starts with the dawn of the 20th century, and continues through the current day. There is an increased focus on primary sources and research, and students begin to write research papers.
Middle School History and Social Studies
Middle School students take a US history class three times a week with other students int heir grade, and a weekly Social Studies class that incorporates the entire Middle School.
We break US history down into three years, allowing students to learn about our country's history in depth. 6th graders learns about pre-history through the American Revolution, 7th graders learn about the early Republic through the start of World War I, and 8th graders learn about America in the 20th and 21st century. This class is reading and writing intensive, with students expected to read a number of primary and secondary sources, and to write increasingly more sophisticated research papers as they progress.
Social Studies runs in a 3 year cycle, as follows:
Civics (offered in 2018-19): Students study various political models used throughout the United States and the world.
Human Geography (offered in 2019-20): Students will learn about people, communities, and economic models around the world.
World Religions (offered in 2021-22): Students will study the history and practice of the major world religions, and learn how they affect our modern world.