A primary focus throughout RHP’s curriculum is the use and development of childrens’ representational skills. Cultivating close observation and careful thought through mark-making allows children to broaden their knowledge and express their ideas. Representational drawing takes many forms: self-portraits, group figure-drawing sessions, and drawings from still lives pave the way for children to work together on collaborative sketches that serve as plans for three-dimensional work. By the end of the year, children are used to using these drawings as guides for block-building, sculpture construction, and investigation planning.
Naturally curious, inquisitive, and determined to find answers to their never-ending questions, children are born scientists. We begin to introduce children to the scientific method in order to build their scientific thinking skills, and learn that there are steps scientists take to find answers to their questions. Children learn what it means to observe and to document their observations; they learn what it means to develop a hypothesis, make predictions, and experiment; and, eventually, they discover the results of their experiments and draw conclusions about their questions. Because we are engaged in long-term studies throughout the year, we are able to seamlessly blend science into our investigations in order to support children’s understanding that science is a part of our daily lives. The development of children’s scientific thinking is bolstered by their work with our Science & Gardening teacher, and the inquiry-based studies that emerge from their hands-on work in community gardens.
In our Music and Movement programs, we explore big musical concepts such as pitch, beat, rhythm, and melody through playful mediums like games, songs, and stories. These are integrated into a curriculum that also focuses on learning some Spanish. Music takes place in Spanish on some days of the week and English on others. Children sing, dance, and play many different kinds of musical instruments in our music classes. We aspire to the goal that each child grows as a musician in their own way, while developing a wonder and excitement for music in addition to exposure to a new language. Dance and movement are integral parts of the music program, but we also explore other forms of movement in games and story play as well as yoga. Photos of our music classes to come!
From the first days of school, as we sit together and read books, children are exploring language & literature. It is during such read-alouds that children learn the basic conventions of reading - they learn the symbols on the page carry as much meaning as the pictures and they are driven to learn more about the uses of language & literacy in our daily lives. Children notice the letters in their name can be found all around them and that writing down words saves their meaning for others to read later. Language and literacy are powerful tools that the children are discovering more about each day as they pursue their explorations and investigations. By infusing language & literacy into our investigations, the children recognize that words not only unlock the answers to their questions but they allow the children themselves to become experts and share the knowledge they have learned with others.
Numbers are everywhere! At school we truly begin to see that math & numbers are an integral part of our daily life. Whether we’re counting the number of friends in our class or figuring out how many snack cups we need - we use math every day! The materials in our classrooms guide children as they explore number and number relationships, and concepts that naturally interest them such as quantity, shape and size. As we delve deeper into investigations, teachers weave in progressively more complex math concepts, such as grouping, sorting, graphing, measuring, and simple addition, as tools to answer our questions and numerically represent those answers.
In addition to language and math experiences that are embedded in investigations and daily classroom life, children engage in small-group teacher guided language and math activities on a weekly basis, and always have the choice to use language and math materials from classroom shelves to construct their knowledge of concepts through hands-on work with teacher-designed materials.
RHP classrooms are rich in materials. Our belief is that learning is enriched through the exploration and manipulation of open-ended as well as carefully teacher-prepared sets of materials. Through their work with materials, children construct knowledge about their world and communicate their ideas through the non-verbal language of building and design. Once children have become comfortable and knowledgeable about the materials available to them, they begin to use these materials in new ways - to experiment, to problem-solve, and to build representationally, using design thinking skills. Opportunities for collaboration abound as children work together with these materials and express ideas as a group.
Each RHP classroom has an atelier area where children are encouraged to spend time working with materials that help them develop and express their ideas. In keeping with the emergent curriculum approach, the selection of materials available in each classroom reflects the artistic interests and goals that the children express. As they begin to represent and explain their ideas, their images fuel the cycle of inquiry that will eventually lead into long-term investigations. Atelier materials are inspiring and varied, and exploring their properties provides opportunities for children to develop their creativity and sense of aesthetic appreciation. In addition to traditional art materials such as paint, charcoal, crayons, scissors, and glue, we seek out alternative materials - "beautiful things” - that children can arrange, collage, sort and build with. These can include natural materials, such as pebbles, pine cones and shells, which help us explore and honor the natural world in our classrooms as well as man-made materials like buttons, ribbons, caps and corks that are evocative of the ‘adult’ world. The atelier is a dynamic and evolving space, where children are free to explore, experiment and create, and where meaning is understood to reside in children’s processes as much as their products. By their nature, atelier projects often elicit extended interest from the children, and we challenge students to revisit their work, refining their ideas and making changes as their thinking progresses. As their processes become more complex, children develop their design thinking skills by sketching or describing a goal, building, reflecting, and problem-solving with materials. While the atelier is a discreet area in each classroom, the work that goes on there extends outward, supporting learning in the other curriculum areas. From drawing detailed, representational plans for block structures to comparing the heights of clay sculptures, artistic work and play infuse every day at RHP, and are central to children’s development as learners.