Learning Naturally, Through Events and Experiences
The philosophy of learning and teaching at BNS is guided by a belief that children learn naturally by connecting events and experiences. In the classroom, we capitalize on the children's natural ability to make connections by using an interrelated (integrated) curriculum. The literature-based curriculum features a thematic approach in which language arts is the focal point that binds together all aspects of the program.
For example, a past Yellow Room (second grade) unit on dinosaurs included:
- creating an adventure story which included a dinosaur (writing, language arts)
- calculating eras and dinosaur populations; graphing actual sizes and weights of different dinosaur species (math)
- designing posters depicting favorite dinosaurs; constructing models (art)
- learning to spell the names of the various dinosaurs and related topics such as paleontologist, Jurassic, etc. (spelling)
- locating where various species lived and the sites of fossil finds on the map (geography)
- describing the habitats of various species, constructing a sand table in which simulated fossil excavations were done, and learning technique for making plaster molds of "finds" (science)
Academic lessons are presented to individuals or small groups based on readiness, ability, and interests of individual students. Hands-on activities, projects with a purpose, research, peer tutoring, and manipulatives are the basis of our teaching-learning philosophy. Workbooks may be used to supplement these integrated activities.
The social studies and science programs consist of a curriculum which emphasizes a process and discovery approach through questioning, experimenting, experiencing, and concluding. Subject matter is presented by the teacher and is enriched through group or individual projects, field trips, research, films, speakers, experiments, and more.
The basic academic program is supplemented by a variety of topics that are included in the weekly schedule: physical education, art (crafts, appreciation, creative art), literature (in addition to their own reading, most younger students are read to for one half hour each day), foreign language, and music. Furthermore, BNS occasionally offers special mini-courses which are taught by parents, teachers, and others in the community with special skills and interests. Examples include circuitry, knitting, cooking, greenhouse gardening, and landscaping.