What does The New School teach?
In many ways, education can be broken down into two areas: Fundamentals, the essentials needed to learn and succeed in our society, and Enrichment, everything else.
Fundamentals: The New School is committed to creating individuals who have a life-long love of learning. In order to love learning, you need to develop the skills necessary to learn including reading, writing, mathematics, research, communication, collaboration and creativity. In our society, it is essential to also develop problem-solving abilities, critical thinking abilities and conflict-resolution strategies. Armed with these abilities, an individual can go out into the world and achieve just about anything they want. The New School works with each student to help them develop these fundamental academic abilities. We do not follow a strict timeline for the development of these skills, but rather work with each child to ensure that they are progressing in each essential area. For example, some children come to reading or writing mastery later than others. This does not mean they are “behind”; comparing them to peers only brings pressure and shame. When given the time they need, their ability and love of these areas will grow as they are ready. The New School continuously works with each individual to help them develop each skill but does so without shame or comparison.
Enrichment: We often think of enrichment as “extras”: art, music, physed, etc. But enrichment includes anything that enhances the value of one’s life. Taken this way, academic subjects such as language, history, and science truly enrich a student’s academic experience. It may seem strange to think of history and science as part of the enrichment family but studies show that problem-solving abilities are more important than memorizing the periodic table and research and presentation skills beat out knowing the dates and names of the world wars. The best way to learn these topics is through experiential learning. The New School works with students to foster their natural curiosity and love of learning by exploring science, history, global studies, and current events through a wide variety of hands-on learning strategies that build not only knowledge but also reasoning abilities. Students contribute to the development of the curriculum in these areas by sharing their interests and helping to design the class projects. Then, they get to work! They are not limited by deadlines or tests so they can delve deeply into each topic and truly learn.
If there are no grades, how do I know if my child is progressing?
The New School difference lies not only in what we teach but how we teach it. Small classes (10-15 students), 2-3 teachers/aides per class, and academics presented in multiple ways at each individual child’s pace are how we ensure that TNS students are learning. How do we measure progress? By keeping track of each child’s individual gains and sharing them with parents regularly. The success of an individualized, project-based education is in sharing what you learn. Students demonstrate their growing abilities through a variety of learning milieus including workbook pages, oral and written presentations, three-D creations, and video/digital designs. Parents are always free to visit the classroom and talk with the staff. We hold formal presentations as well as regular parent conferences to ensure that you are kept up-to-date on all of your child’s gains.
What happens if a child does not seem to be progressing?
The New School has extensive experience identifying the difference between a child who is learning at their own pace and a child who is struggling. Teachers and staff incorporate a wide range of approaches to help each child develop needed skills. If either staff or parents have a concern, the TNS staff will recommend appropriate assessments to determine if a child’s struggle has an underlying cause. If so, TNS is well-equipped to provide any needed supplemental support, and also receives county services. Please contact us for further information if you have a specific concern for your child’s learning difference.
What is a typical day at The New School?
A typical day at the new school comprises a combination of group discussions, planning and processing, individual work with teacher and peer support, guided projects and student-led activities. It includes both in class and outside opportunities with time for social development, play and discovery as well as instruction, practice and presentation. While each day and week is varied, there is a consistent schedule so students feel anchored and free to learn. Throughout the month, we mix in special activities such as visiting instructors (e.g., dance, music, science), trips (e.g., pottery class, aquarium, nature center), and presentations (e.g., students present their work).
Typical Daily Schedule:
Book Corner: A time to meet as a group to share ideas, plan the day and discuss things like the question of the day and/or reflect on current topics.
Work Time: One to two focused work periods that include group instruction and activities, hands-on learning and individual work with teacher support.
Snack: We eat a snack together (so no one has to rush!) then go outside to play and discover all that nature has to offer. Aides are on the playground to ensure safety and often join in the fun!
Work Time: Another one to two focused work periods with individual centers and/or workbooks, teacher-led instruction or research, group project or presentations.
Lunch: We eat lunch together, clean up and then back out for more fresh air. Children plan group and organized games such as volleyball or four-square, build shelters and create games and activities or just play on the swings and have fun! Teacher’s aides are always on hand to help with any needs.
Work Time: This work period often begins with a meditation or other means of relaxing transition back to class. The last work time of the day is also typically hands-on, group-based and physically active and may include phys ed, all-school games, cooking class, or reading partners.
End of Day Cleanup: Everyone feels ownership of their class and school by taking responsibility for keeping it clean. All children share in manageable clean-up jobs each day.
Do New School students have homework?
Children spend six hours per day in school engaged in a wide array of learning activities and academic work. While some areas of study benefit from reinforcement at home, children also benefit from extra-curriculars, community involvement and family time. Therefore, New School students are not assigned homework in the traditional sense. Rather, students are free to use their after-school time to engage in the many and varied options that are available to our children. After school is a great time for children to play, explore, discover and share the areas that interest them without concern for deadlines and due dates. As New School children move into the upper grades, they may find it useful to engage in practice and/or deeper exploration of topics at home. TNS teachers have readily-available resources and recommendations for students who want or need additional work in any given area.
How do New School students do in high school, college and beyond?
Students who graduate from The New School enter high school–be it public school, private school or an academy–with a unique combination of skills that go far beyond the basics. In addition to a strong foundation in all academics, New School students value commitment, integrity and honesty in addition to a love of learning. They have well-developed problem-solving and critical-thinking abilities as well as excellent interpersonal skills. They thrive in group learning as well as independent work. Finally, New School students are secure in who they are and therefore not afraid to answer questions, express their opinion, and ask for help.
During their high school years, New School students tend to identify their passions and interests and, post high school, choose the road best suited for them, be it college or career. In all cases, New School students prove time and again that they have the confidence and competence to do whatever they choose and enter higher education and their careers with enthusiasm, productivity, flexibility, and team-work.