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. Students explore a wide range of materials and learn about diverse artists and art forms from many cultures. Kindergarten through the 5th grade classes visit the Art Studio once a week.
Music appreciation is practiced every week. Students learn about rhythm, dynamics, musical styles, and how to read music. Selected songs often relate to seasons, celebrations or classroom themes. Classes are exposed to songs and musical styles from all over the world and learn about the foundations of Jazz. 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.
Library & Technology
Our librarian introduces new authors, illustrators, genres, books and series to students. Classes learn how a library is organized, as well as how to locate, select and check out books using call numbers, the Dewey-decimal system, and library software. Students try new books and develop their own reading interests and goals. At the end of the school year, students select their own Valley School Book Award winner. Digital literacy and citizenship topics are covered in the upper grades at Valley.
Valley School students participate in Spanish classes every week. Students learn Spanish through songs, stories, call and response, repetition, games, writing, art and conversation. In the upper grades students practice Spanish in small classes of eight to provide more opportunities for students to practice speaking.
In addition to at least two outdoor recesses every day, students participate in supplemental physical education classes in all grades. Pre-K and K students are led through a sequential curriculum in once a week Movement classes where they learn to move their bodies effectively and with strength. They learn the elements of dance, the principles of choreography, and build their interpersonal skills for teamwork and effective cooperation. Our Movement program aligns with National Core Arts Standards. 1st and 2nd Grade students participate in P.E. classes once a week. P.E. activities are designed to teach cooperative games and good sportsmanship. 3rd, 4th and 5th Grade students enjoy physical education classes once a week in either swimming, Yoga or P.E.
OUR “SECOND CLASSROOM”
Students at the Valley School spend time outdoors every day, rain or shine. What some schools refer to as the playground, we call 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. Teachers provide seasonal “provocations” to help spark student inquiry, exploration, creativity and collaboration. Valley School students get plenty of exercise and get plenty muddy too!
Playground Provocations include: Hay Bales, Evergreen Tree Delivery, Water Play, Insect Hunting, Carpentry, Fairy Houses, Garden Maintenance, Obstacle Courses, Shovels and Tools, Tires, Tracks & Tarps, Orienteering, Pulleys, Loose Parts, Plant Arrangements, Water Painting, and more
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. Teachers are trained in Responsive Classroom methods and implement key parts of this research-based curriculum in classrooms.
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 are 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.
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.