2.5 Years - Kindergarten
To enter the classroom, students must be able to use the restroom independently and follow basic instructions.
As you are carefully evaluating the right environment for your child to first venture out from the home, we are confident you will feel at ease in this peaceful classroom.
In the Primary program, you will find children in mixed-age classrooms, a bit like a one room school house, with older children helping the younger. Instead of rows of desks, the room feels much more like a home, with coffee tables, family photos, and wingback reading chairs around a fireplace. Although the sound level is low, there is a quiet buzz of energy as students move around the room, selecting activities from shelves full of attractive objects.
The class has two adults. One (the lead teacher) gives one-on-one lessons to children with hands-on materials, rather than worksheets, computers, or lectures. The child receiving the lesson seems to delight in the dedicated attention and the honor of receiving this desired lesson, while a few other children stand nearby, quietly observing. The second adult moves around the room, responding to children who need redirection, assistance, or perhaps a hug.
You may be surprised to see children executing tasks beyond their years, such as a 3-year-old sewing, a 5-year-old performing multiplication. Academic achievement is based on each child’s individual pace (though many are performing above grade level), but what is certain is that the students are in an environment with adults who are closely observing what they have mastered, and who are evaluating on an individual level what lesson should come next in order for them to firmly grasp each concept.
You may notice a student for whom sitting still seems to be a challenge, but instead of this creating a behavior problem, he heads outside into the attached garden and bounces around a bit, burning up some energy before settling in to study some insect on the ground. After about ten minutes, he returns inside of his own accord, evidently inspired to tackle a lesson that has come to his mind.
In addition to traditional academic subjects, you will also see students undertaking many practical skills. Preschoolers learn to fold and pack clothing into a suitcase, serve tea, use a screwdriver, juice oranges, and mop a floor. (We once had a 5-year-old take on the plumbing of a troublesome classroom sink with some success.) Grace and courtesy are also emphasized: students learn to introduce themselves, make eye contact, and to offer a heartfelt apology and a plan for change when someone is wronged.
Your time in The Hearth Room strikes you as somewhat like a summer camp—certainly the children are much happier here than the memories of your own school years. And yet, they have a much better grasp on many topics than their peers in rigorous institutions. On your way out, you can’t help but think that you, too, would enjoy staying in this sunny, peaceful place.
Families can choose to enroll their children in a traditional school day schedule 5 days each week, or may choose part time enrollment of 5 half days, 3 school days, or 3 half days. Part-time programs have limited availability.
A typical school day in the Primary classroom goes like this:
9:00 - 11:45
Morning Work Period
Students are free to select any work to which they have been introduced. These activities present concepts in a hands-on style, inviting the child to concentrate and explore. As the teacher observes their readiness, they are introduced to new materials. Math, language, practical life, and art activities are available.
Sometimes children work alone, and other times they work with a friend or in a group. There are also outdoor activities including watering plants, sweeping, washing windows, etc. The children may go outside throughout the day. Snacks are available during the work period.
11:45 - 1:00
Lunch and Recess
At the end of the work period, most of the students gather for a group activity, such as singing songs or hearing a Bible story, while a few students take their turn at preparing for lunch by setting the tables with real china and silver.
Half-Day pickup by 1:00pm
1:00 - 3:30
Afternoon Work Period and Nap
Children 4.5+ have a second work period, while younger children nap to tranquil music.
School Day pickup by 3:30pm