What Makes Our Curriculum Unique?

what makes our curriculum unique images

whole child
boy-working-on-projectOur curriculum engages the whole child. We approach education as an art, and we believe that real intelligence arises only when children are given opportunities to engage not only their heads, but their hands and hearts as well. Our assignments require children to read, write, think, paint, draw, play music, orate, write poetry, build things, and reflect.
Our curriculum fosters caring relationships between students and home teachers. At the heart of education is relationship. Children are not just empty vessels waiting to be filled—they are intelligent, sensitive, creative beings eager to express all that they are inside. The key to releasing this innate intelligence lies in creating a caring, supportive relationship, for children can only express their intelligence and sensitivity when they feel safe to do so.

Our support for home teachers:

  • High quality teacher manuals
  • Clearly stated learning objectives
  • Easy to follow instructions
  • Easy to use assessment tools
  • Meaningful assignments
  • Helpful suggestions for creating a nurturing learning environment
stages of development
Our curriculum meets the needs of students in different stages of development. Children are multifaceted beings who develop in stages, and the unique needs of each stage must be met if children are to become mature, responsible, intelligent human beings.

  • Age-appropriate activities and reading assignments
  • Assessment tools that set reasonable expectations for student achievement
  • Consideration for unique needs of children at each stage of development, i.e., attention  span, capacity for abstract thinking, etc.
individual learning styles
boy-studyingOur curriculum provides flexibility for individual learning styles. Children learn in a wide variety of ways and all of these ways are valid and effective. Our curriculum is written to accommodate a wide variety of learning styles and provide opportunities for all children to learn easily, effectively, and enjoyably.

  • Flexible approach to daily and weekly scheduling
  • Assignment choices that draw on strengths
  • Independent math curriculum
  • Literature options for different reading levels
artistic expression
girl-playing-recorderOur curriculum provides opportunities for artistic expression. A child needs to have opportunities for artistic expression. The form that this expression takes can vary widely; drawing, painting, music, poetry, woodworking, and more provide this opportunity. The main point to keep in mind is that the process is more important than the form. Forms that are created quickly with a minimum of inner focus are not as helpful to a child’s inner growth as forms that require persistent, focused awareness.

  • Recorder in the early grades
  • Studio art through middle grades
  • Art projects woven into academic subjects
  • Detailed instructions for how to complete art and craft projects
  • Exposure to many different artistic media
Our curriculum encourages students to engage in authentic inquiry. Our curriculum asks questions that challenge the student to think, to explore, to experiment, and to integrate knowledge gained in other subject areas. We encourage students to explore divergent views of a subject in order to broaden their understanding and make connections between seemingly unrelated things. We want them to tackle the larger questions about the meaning and purpose of their lives, for only then can they make fulfilling life choices and authentic contributions.

  • Essential questions that encompass the themes of an entire year
  • Guiding questions that help students make sense of individual units and lessons
  • Discussion questions that spark debate
  • Rigorous research projects that require students to explore new topics in depth
  • Exposure to primary source materials
Our curriculum helps students develop empathy. “All rapport, the root of caring, stems from emotional attunement, from the capacity for empathy. That capacity—the ability to know how another feels—comes into play in a vast array of life arenas, from sales and management to romance and parenting, to compassion and political action.” (Excerpted from Curriculum on the Edge of Survival by Dan Heller)

  • Exploration of characters in literature to try to understand motives and choices
  • Close look at the lives of historical figures
  • Practice writing and speaking from diverse points of view
  • Experience debating both sides of an issue
  • Opportunities to consider ethical questions
hands-on projects
boy-working-hands-on-projectOur curriculum provides opportunities for experiential learning through hands-on projects, experiments, civic engagement, and more. Project learning, also known as project-based learning, is a dynamic approach to teaching in which students explore real-world problems and challenges, simultaneously developing cross-curriculum skills. Because project learning is filled with active and engaged learning, it inspires students to obtain a deeper knowledge of the subjects they’re studying. In the process of completing their projects, students also hone their organizational and research skills, develop better communication with their peers and adults, and often work within their community while seeing the positive effect of their work. (Excerpted from “Why Teach With Project-Based Learning?: Providing Students With a Well-Rounded Classroom Experience,” Edutopia.org)

  • Plenty of opportunities for students to get their hands dirty—literally
  • Opportunities for community-based and expeditionary learning
  • Art projects that go beyond the craft kit
  • Activities that require students to engage with unfamiliar materials
  • Historical craft projects that limit use of modern materials
boy-reading-bookOur curriculum asks students to engage in self-reflection. One way students become more independent is by reflecting on how they learn. Every person learns differently, and at a certain age, students can start paying attention to their own learning preferences or style. One of the simplest ways to examine one’s own learning style is by figuring out which activities are difficult and which ones are easy. From time to time, we ask students to reflect on their learning by writing about it or by discussing it with their home teachers.

  • Learning reflections assigned at regular intervals in every grade
  • Students are encouraged to choose their own writing topics
  • Meaningful self-assessments that help students define what worked and what didn’t
children-working-on-treehouse-projectOur curriculum helps students achieve genuine understanding. To understand is to make connections and bind together our knowledge into something that makes sense of things. But the word also implies doing, not just a mental act. To understand is to be able to wisely and effectively use—transfer—what we know, in context; to apply knowledge and skill effectively, in realistic tasks and settings. When we understand, we have a fluent and fluid grasp, not a rigid, formulaic grasp based only on recall and ‘plugging in.’ (Excerpted from Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe)

  • Relevant projects that further students’ understanding of a topic or theme
  • Connections built between course topics and with other subjects for fuller integration
  • Authentic assessments that require students to apply new knowledge and skills in a practical way
  • Clear learning objectives stated throughout the curriculum
problem solving
girl-working-on-problemOur curriculum requires students to do a lot of problem solving. Children need to solve complex problems, to ask many forms of questions, and to use, adapt, and apply standard methods, as well as to make connections. When children work on puzzles, they are having to make sense of situations, they are using shapes and numbers to solve problems, and they are thinking logically, all of which are critical ways of working and learning. (Excerpted from What’s Math Got to Do with It? by Jo Boaler)

  • Opportunities for students to discuss and reflect on problem solving strategies
  • Puzzles, riddles, challenges, games included throughout curriculum, especially in math
  • Authentic challenges, i.e., research questions, creative math problems, ethical debates, environmental consequences, etc.
communication skills
Our curriculum helps students improve their communication skills. “Without communication, none of the other aspects of curriculum could exist, or if they did, they would be isolated phenomena. We are social animals and unless we can communicate our ideas, then we cease to be a community and become a collection of nonconnected entities.” (Excerpted from Curriculum on the Edge of Survival by Dan Heller)

  • Oral interviews and presentations
  • Debates and group discussions
  • One-on-one discussions
  • Persuasive essays
integrated approach
Our curriculum takes an integrated approach to both academic learning and life experience. Oak Meadow curriculum is designed around the beliefs that students are sensitive and intelligent, learning can be enjoyable, and education should be integrated into life. While in many schools education focuses on teaching facts, we believe that true education involves more than just the intellect—it engages and integrates every aspect of the human being and is intertwined with daily life.

In addition to connections between school and life, Oak Meadow courses weave connections between disciplines. Science students use math in a practical way. Literature is used to illuminate historical time periods. Social studies courses incorporate art and culture. Literary analysis includes historical perspective. Art and health courses explore science and technology. Our integrated curriculum helps students connect disciplinary knowledge to their lives, the world they inhabit, and the world they would like to build.

  • Integration across subjects in relevant ways
  • Project options that correlate to other subjects or individual areas of interest
  • Community service opportunities that tie into curricular themes
critical thinking skills
Our curriculum encourages students to use critical thinking skills. A well-cultivated critical thinker:

  • Raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely
  • Gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively
  • Comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards
  • Thinks openmindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing assumptions, implications, and practical consequences
  • Communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems

(Excerpted from “Our Concept and Definition of Critical Thinking,” Foundation for Critical Thinking)

Oak Meadow’s curriculum encourages students to:

  • Make predictions and connections
  • Formulate well-reasoned arguments
  • View issues from multiple perspectives
  • Practice persuasive writing
  • Solve challenging problems
  • Consider practical, theoretical, and ethical issues
a world of ideas
student-discussion-circleOur curriculum opens up a world of ideas based on a global perspective and local action. Education is no longer about bringing students a world of information. It is about sharing with them a world of ideas: Eco-education. Social responsibility. Ethical considerations. Communication. Creative thought. Earth stewardship. Cultural heritage. Good citizenship. Media literacy. Sustainability. Life goals. These concepts form the foundation for meaningful academic studies.

  • Connection to nature integrated in multiple subjects
  • Ethical skills cultivated through relevant questions
  • Global perspective guides cultural studies
  • Environmental stewardship and sustainability supported