The Bamboo Forest and The Pond


backyard.jpg The Bamboo Forest and the Pond classrooms serve as welcoming gateways into a long journey for  beginning students. It is critical that young learners are introduced to school in a loving, fun, supportive, creative, stimulating environment. The Bamboo and Pond students learn through hands-on exploration, experimentation and multi-sensory experiences drawn from a constructivist approach. At this age not only are students emotionally beginning to separate from their parents, they are finding out what it's like to relate to new people, work in a group, express their individuality, make friends and take risks. It is a transitional time for students as well as their families. Therefore the focus of the social studies component in these classrooms is on self and family. The students are given opportunities to talk about difference, family make-up, homes, values, traditions, religions, and histories, through personal family stories and classroom discussions. Bringing their home into their life at school helps provide a smoother transition. Conversations about racial, social and economic diversity are facilitated in relation to the calendar and the special days observed by the larger community. Because our classrooms are mixed-age groupings, some students return for a second year. These students are given the opportunity to mentor others and play a more confident leadership role.

The school's Habits of Mind serves as a natural guide for this age group, encompassing and reflecting our class goals.

Inquiry- Each day students observe, listen, reflect, generate questions and participate in group discussions. Being able to ask questions helps to support their academic growth. Learning to truly listen and be engaged is a huge part of their work at this age.

Stewardship-At this developmental stage of life, learning to take care of people, things, the environment and themselves is a natural social emotional focus. Enabling the students to work through issues independently or in a group fosters responsible and caring young people.

Collaboration-Small group activities, such as reading circles, math groups, thematic group projects, specialist time, camping trips and free choice time, offer ongoing opportunities for collaboration. Students learn when and how to lead, follow and work as an active listener and meaningful contributor.

Perspective-Five-and six-year-olds are naturally egocentric and just starting to look outside themselves and their own family. Through numerous activities these students learn about the larger world through the multiple viewpoints of their classmates, other families, their teachers and the community.

Application-Students are introduced to the academics according to mixed-age skill levels. Learning in these areas is supported by offering an integrated approach so the students can strengthen their skills, applying the new knowledge in a variety of media.

Ownership-Goals set for achievement are on an individualized basis. The expectation of each student is to do one's best work and be a responsible member of the community. The physical classroom is a blank canvas in the beginning of the year and the family of students and teachers and their experiences is what fills the space. Each student plays a crucial role in the decisions and direction of the class curriculum.

- Lauren Arroyo and Jenny Hazell

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