THE INSTRUCTIONAL PROGRAM
We seek to maintain a healthy balance between the four primary developmental domains of young children: cognitive/academic, social, emotional, and physical. While being challengingly academic, our program also incorporates a considerable amount of child-to-child and child-to-adult interaction, hands-on learning activities, physical movement, and exploratory play, in an emotionally warm and supportive school environment. We place a strong emphasis on the whole child and take to heart the saying that “Children won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
The core of our academic program is language development and literacy – reading and writing – the foundation for success in school. Math is also strongly emphasized. The subject areas – science, social studies, and arts – are integrated through a series of thematic units taught throughout the year at each grade level, all revolving around developing competencies in language, reading, writing, and math. We employ a comprehensive Balanced Literacy approach in literacy instruction that combines the best aspects of phonics and whole language through the daily use of high interest, quality reading materials, and continuous assessment of each child’s progress. A Parallel Block Schedule, in which all students at each grade level receive daily reading instruction at the same time, enables teachers and trained teacher aides to instruct small groups of three to six students at just the right level they need. During block times, groups may be formed with students from different classrooms to assure an instructional level match. Groups are flexible and change membership when individual students are ready. Such close attention to individual children’s needs is especially important at the primary level. Outside the block schedule times, language development, reading, writing, and math are integrated throughout the curriculum.
All students have physical education three times a week with a certified teacher specialist who incorporates music and language development activities. Students also attend Yup’ik Culture & Language class two or three times a week with an associate teacher, and they visit the library once a week for instruction and to check out and return books. All classrooms have daily recess on the playground or on the play deck under the main building. In severe weather recess is held indoors.