About our curriculum . . .

What is the Wildflower curriculum?

Traditionally “curriculum” has meant selection of textbooks and prepackaged “programs” in the four subject areas of language, math, science, and social studies. At Wildflower, we define “curriculum” as being the sum total of kids’ experiences from the time they walk into the classroom to the time they leave school, and beyond. Our integrated, thematic, project-based teaching connects learning fields to ensure that students do more than “learn the facts” but also recognize that learning is interconnected to the world.

Read more: https://servelearn.co/blog/integrated-curriculum-changing-the-future-of-teaching/

What does “educating the whole child” mean?

Since the earliest days, American schools focused mostly on academic achievement: the 3Rs of reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic plus science and historical “facts”, often taught in classrooms with desks in neat rows facing the teacher. Whole child education as practiced at Wildflower includes academics, but teachers and staff are also concerned about children’s emotional and physical health, their deep engagement in the learning process, and individualized attention to learning.


What is an “open” classroom?

Our classrooms are “open” in two senses. First, the classroom spaces themselves invite kids to move freely about for small, larger group, and individual activities and peace and quiet. Second, our programs involve a great deal of student choice and self-direction, so learning is “open” to reflect students interests, curiosities, and levels of learning and knowledge.


What is “interdisciplinary education”?

Rather than isolating learning by disciplines (which may work well for college-level academics), interdisciplinary education recognizes the interconnectedness of things in the world so school: reading flows into science, science engages students in mathematics, learning social studies takes place in the context of all of history and society, writing is about the whole world, not just penmanship and grammar. The skills and knowledge of the disciplines are best learned when students see applications across disciplines and in the world around them.


What is “thematic” teaching?

Teaching by themes or topics is the heart of interdisciplinary teaching. Themes may involve a large system (such as our community, an ecosystem, the seasons, the sky, Australia, our water supply) or a broad concept (such as healthy eating, games and exercise, and so on). Teachers connect the theme to the students’ everyday life. Often students participate in choosing the theme or themes. The role of the teacher is in accumulating some background resources and then helping students discover resources (through books and the internet) that answer their questions about it. https://www.funderstanding.com/educators/thematic-instruction/

What is “project based” learning?

Student project work is an integral part of thematic, interdisciplinary teaching. As a theme evolves in a classroom, kids show their learning through projects, presentations, experiments, and demonstrations. The project approach is also “hands on,” meaning that children take their learning and put it into action, thus helping to solidify that learning. We find that kids often take their projects home and keep them on display around the house. Sample projects include model pyramids, maps of future cities, scripted and improvised plays, books of tall tales.


What are the advantages of multi-grade teaching?

Multi-grade classes broaden social peer groups and encourage individualized instruction where teachers focus on needs rather than grade level expectations. It provides older students with leadership roles/opportunities, and creates more time for student-teacher relationships to develop. It is especially helpful to teachers and parents in following growth over a longer period of time rather than cutting off assessment at the end of a single school year

What help is available for kids having problems in the classroom?

The Wildflower open classroom approach allows teachers to identify “problems” and as much as possible develop strategies to assist. “Problems” may be related to classroom behavior or academic learning. In both cases, teachers can work within the classroom to solve them. Wildflower also has a skilled school counselor and a reading support teacher for particular problems, and student-teacher-parent conferences can be held as needed. Our SEED week parent, child, teacher conferences are especially important in this approach. [link to measurement]

How does Wildflower ensure that children have necessary math skills?

 The thematic, project-based curriculum puts math skills to work in everyday settings. In addition, classrooms are stocked with an array of age-appropriate math games and skill-builders that are engaging and downright fun and allow teachers to assess fundamental skill development.

How does Wildflower ensure that children are reading successfully?

The teaching and learning of reading is a complex subject. At Wildflower kids are taught sound-letter correspondences and engage in spelling practice for difficult words. However, reading development comes primarily through actual reading of self-selected books and whole class readings. The language experience approach also suggests that reading one’s own writing is key to reading development, since the words selected for writing are those closest to the child’s experience.


What is the Wildflower approach to writing instruction?

At Wildflower writing is a part of all thematic, interdisciplinary teaching. We use the “writing process” approach that focuses on everything from forming a writing-idea to final editing and proofreading. In addition, Wildflower uses a writing workshop approach that engages children in responding to one another’s work and gaining improvement through audience response. Publication in the form of books, booklets, and newsletters is built into the program to provide incentive for writing growth.


How does Wildflower teach science?

The teaching of “science” at Wildflower is inseparable from thematic, interdisciplinary teaching with lots of hands-on and exploratory work. Our teaching is also consistent with the widely publicized STEM programs (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) which emphasize curiosity, problem solving, experimentation, and collaboration.