Days at The Valley School are full of opportunities for children to investigate, create and build friendships. We carefully create experiences at Valley that feed children’s curiosity and are full of challenge, adventure and fun.
We know that children learn by doing as well as from adult instruction, therefore, in every grade children learn through hands-on investigation as well as teacher-led instruction, beginning whenever possible with the children’s interests and needs.
The Valley curriculum is presented through a variety of themes that integrate lessons in language, math, science, and social studies. For a more in depth look at our curriculum, click here.
Valley students are introduced to foundational art topics including: Line & Texture; Color; Shape & Space; Form and Art/Design in different cultures. Students explore watercolor, tissue-paper, stained glass, batik, oil pastel, self-portraits, pop art, printmaking, optical illusions, sculpture, lanterns, tiles, clay, book making and collage.
Our youngest students practice music appreciation through singing, movement and rhythm sticks. They learn about rhythm, dynamics, musical styles and how to read music. Selected songs relate to seasons, celebrations or classroom themes. Older students continue to practice concepts and skills introduced previously and they learn how to play instruments including the recorder, steel pan drums and the ukulele. All students are exposed to songs and musical styles from all over the world.
Library & Technology
Our librarian introduces new authors, illustrators, genres, books and series to students. Every year they explore award-winning books and students select their own Valley School Book Award winner. Students learn about how a library is organized and how to locate, select and check out books using call numbers and the Dewey decimal system and library so ware. Students try new books and develop their own reading interests and goals.
Valley School students participate in Spanish class once a week. Students learn Spanish through songs, stories, call and response, repetition, games, writing, art and conversation. We use the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum as the foundation for our Spanish instruction. Each class includes a greeting, circle time, a Spanish story, and an art activity which provides additional practice of key vocabulary or phrases.
In addition to at least two outdoor recesses every day, students participate in supplemental physical education
classes in all grades.
Movement Class (Pre-k through 2nd Grade)
Students are led through a sequential curriculum in which they learn to move their bodies effectively and with strength. They learn the elements of dance, the principles of high-quality choreography/creativity, and build their interpersonal skills for teamwork and effective cooperation. Our movement program aligns with National Core Arts Standards.
Friday Afternoon P.E. Specialist Classes
3rd Grade: Swimming Lessons
4th and 5th Grade: Dance & Yoga
OUR “SECOND CLASSROOM”
Students at the Valley School spend time outdoors every day, rain or shine. What some students call recess, we refer to as our “second classroom” — a place where students can practice skills from many disciplines while following their own questions, ideas and desires. Our playground is designed to meet the needs of young, growing students and to inspire unstructured, student led investigations, creations and play. We provide monthly “provocations” to help spark student inquiry, exploration, creativity and collaboration. Valley School students get plenty of exercise and get plenty muddy too. To learn more, click here
SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING
Responsibility, Relationships & Risk
Strong SEL skills provide a foundation for all learning and relationships in school and life. Valley School students receive direct instruction in the 5 Core Competencies of SEL: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills and Responsible Decision Making. Focus areas for lower school include: emotions, self regulation, giving clear messages, friendship skills and problem solving. In grades 3–5 there is increased emphasis on problem-solving, conflict resolution and mindfulness. Communication strategies re strengthened. Students manage emotions and behavior with increased confidence and independence using a wide range of mindfulness activities and tools. Self-reflection, empathy and goal setting are also core areas for our older students as they become school leaders.
We believe that the experiences children have during their school day provide sufficient time and practice for the learning we expect. The push to introduce homework in the earliest levels of elementary education frequently deprives children of time for family activities, play and downtime, creates tension within families, and can lead to sapping the enjoyment from learning. We therefore give no homework to our youngest children, including pre-K, kindergarten, and first grade.
Starting in second grade, we ask our students to devote time to independent reading for pleasure and spelling practice. As children get older and develop more fluency in reading, writing, and mathematics, we gradually increase the amount of homework. When balanced with time for after-school activities, family, and recreation, homework can help students develop a sense of responsibility and give them practice with organization and time-management skills. These skills will serve our graduates well when they enter middle school, where homework is the norm.