Is it possible to have a curriculum that’s unique to each student? A curriculum that inspires learning beyond the classroom? A curriculum that is deep, broad, and free of boring test-driven drills that make students anxious and hateful of school work?
Get rid of the red tape and the answer is easy: Sure, why not?
We weave together philosophy, methods and interesting content in each subject, and at every grade level, to produce an experience that is captivating, personalized, and meaningful. Our job as teachers is to create the environment that allows students to acquire skills at their own speed, and without roadblocks in their way. Just because your child is in the third grade doesn’t mean they should be forced into a third grade curriculum. Curricula are grade specific, your child’s knowledge and abilities are not. Therefore, we individualize all Reading, Writing and Math instruction. At Progressive, it’s not unusual for a child to study at a grade or two higher in a subject of interest to them.
Science, geography, social studies–we’ve discovered that when we explore each subject in an interactive and relevant way, lessons become fun! Apply what you’ve learned, and the lessons will stick for life! We shy away from “proven” study drills that focus more on short term memory than real knowledge. We believe in spending the time to delve deep into a subject, rather than give a superficial treatment that leaves a student with a set of quickly forgotten facts, and a bad aftertaste for schooling.
In addition to the academic topics covered in each grade, there’s a healthy dose of other instruction as well. Teamwork and sportsmanship are taught in physical education. Children learn to appreciate, sing, and play an instrument during music classes. All sorts of drawing and painting media are covered in art. In keeping with the latest brain research, we also begin teaching a second language (Spanish) in kindergarten. Recently we became the first Long Island school to teach coding languages to grades 3-8, featuring Scratch, Python, HTML, and Databases.
Improved study is realized every day by giving exposure to a variety of learning settings that include large and small group lessons, followed by both independent and collaborative tasks. In each grade, we build on skills acquired in specific, comprehensive study courses from the year before, such as the six week experiential journey into the “Art of Oral Reporting” undertaken in fourth grade.
And…our classrooms are not just teacher directed! Each day also allows time for children to pursue special interests. In K and 1, we call it free time, a chance for unlimited exploration with the teachers becoming the observant, helpful partners. In 2 and 3, we call it enrichment time, a time when children can choose or create their own assignments. In 4th grade and up, this program blossoms into our electives– projects and presentations that highlight each student’s unique gifts while building a sense of purpose and self-esteem. This process then bears fruit in 7th and 8th grades when students undertake independent study courses with a teacher mentor. Within these self-designed courses students can link their interests to the real world around them through career connections and service initiatives.
Finally, to help all of us start each day, we have a “Quiet Time” where we practice beneficial Yoga-type exercises that help calm and concentrate the mind, still the body, and increase the will power of self control while we peacefully center ourselves for the busy day ahead.