The curriculum at Village School is both innovative and varied. Students are invigorated by the hands-on approach to learning and they are interested because their experience is relevant and engaging.
Our broad and balanced program is taught in small classes where the individual child can be nurtured as well as challenged in a rigorous academic setting. Class projects are designed to spark imagination, promote intellectual curiosity and foster shared discovery. At Village School, we recognize that educating young people goes beyond academics. We encourage independence as well as collaborative work, and we recognize the importance of respecting oneself and the rights of others.
The Transitional Kindergarten program is an ideal way to start children on the path to success! TK is a full day program starting at 8:00am and ending at 3:00pm. Each week is integrated and balanced between academics and specialty classes. The children spend time in math, language, science, global studies, art, music, Spanish, social play, P.E., library, technology, fine motor practice, and exploration. The specialty classes offer the children the broad range of experiences and ways of learning. The TK year reflects the child’s growth through exploration and discovery.
While the class and curriculum structure of TK are similar in some ways to that of Kindergarten, and the social and academic skills being taught are complementary, TK differs in a few important ways. First, the children in the two grades are at different levels of social maturity. Second, children in K are expected to have longer attention spans and greater ability to concentrate. Third, TK places more emphasis on one-to-one attention, while group work is more prominent in K. However, a principle common to both grades is that each child will be extended and encouraged academically according to individual needs, abilities and readiness.Research shows that some children who start Kindergarten at a younger-than-average age can have a more challenging experience and that there is no downside to giving children the extra year to develop and enter Kindergarten fully prepared.
The kindergarten program establishes the academic foundation for the rest of a child’s life at Village School. Children are introduced to Reader's and Writer's Workshops, models that allow for student voice and enthusiasm to grow while cultivating their understanding of these key facets of literacy. Children are exposed to a number of mathematical concepts through the Everyday Math program. Children also compare and contrast nine nations as part of a global exploration. During the school year kindergarteners travel to three continents, visiting three countries within each continent.
STEAM units also introduce our students to the hands-on exploration and lines of inquiry that define our science program in the other grades.
Kindergarten students visit each of our six specialist classes on a regular basis. Library, music and art specials are visited twice during an 8-day cycle. They attend Spanish three times during an 8-day cycle. Technology is regularly incorporated into small and whole group classroom lessons and students also visit the lab twice during the 8-day cycle.
It is in kindergarten that teachers also introduce the children to the six Village Values: respect, responsibility, trust, fairness, caring, and courage. These Values are reinforced through Community Circle and Family Circle activities, our Village Values song, everyday conversations, and school wide events.
The strong foundation provided by Village School’s rigorous kindergarten program imparts the literacy and numeracy skills needed to excel in first grade and beyond. Students are known and valued for who they are and feel safe to truly grow to be the best version of themselves. The academic and social-emotional skills combine to create passionate and enthusiastic learners who are well equipped for the future.
The first grade program reinforces the foundation laid in kindergarten, providing a deeper respect for the environment and our responsibility in it. The year-long theme, “On Wings and Fins,” presents children with opportunities to make real life connections between the world outside of school and the skills and concepts taught in school. It also integrates the impressive migrations of the monarch butterfly and the local whale population into the students’ classroom experiences.
All subject skills are taught within this thematic framework. In language arts, first graders experience a variety of literary genres, read independently, in partnerships and begin to study parts of grammar. In math, first graders learn about place value, measurement and collecting and organizing data in various ways. Science focuses on the analysis of migratory animals and their importance in the balance of nature. In addition, knowledgeable educators provide an environment that promotes the joy of learning through collaboration and hands-on experiences.
Blanketing the first grade curricula is an emphasis on the social environment within individual classrooms and the school as a whole. Children and adults are expected to share in the practice of the Village Values as a means to nurture an environment in which children can explore, stretch, succeed, and learn from their mistakes.
The second grade program challenges and engages students, allowing them to strengthen and develop their skills, and emerge as fluent readers and writers.
In language arts, second graders will be introduced to critical thinking skills by making inferences, predicting outcomes, and comparing and contrasting literature. They practice oral fluency and expression, continue studying grammar, and read and write in a variety of genres such as narrative, prose, and expository styles.
In math, children strengthen their abilities to tell time to 5 minutes, identify and discuss polygons, construct and interpret graphs and solve single step word problems.
Global studies provides students the opportunity to explore, in long-term units of study, topics such as ancestry, historical biographies and the rainforest. Second graders learn mapping skills, study America’s past and government, and make direct connections to their science class during the rainforest unit.
In second grade, teachers become facilitators as the students are guided to become active participants in their learning and to become more independent in both their academic and social lives. Self-motivation, completion of work in a timely manner, resolving conflicts independently, and developing a sense of being a life long learner remain goals for all second graders.
The third grade program marks the beginning of the “Upper School” at Village. Third graders complete the transition from a more developmental “ Lower School” environment into one that is more traditionally academic while engaging in challenging, experiential learning projects across the curriculum. They participate in cooperative and collaborative learning activities designed to develop their social and academic skills.
The language arts curriculum encompasses both a traditional approach to grammar and writing as well as a more progressive approach with projects extending from the novel studies. Students solidify literacy skills, in addition to constructing genuine responses to literature. The writing program, one of the hallmarks of the third grade program, is integrated extensively throughout the curriculum. Students practice writing in a variety of genres, where they learn the writing process. Writing is an essential skill that transcends all academic disciplines.
The Everyday Math series is used as a way to explore math concepts such as place value, positive and negative numbers, measurements, decimals and fractions. This exploration of math concepts is supplemented with skill building activities to assist students in making calculations transparent so that they may more fully focus on their problem solving skills.
The global studies curriculum includes the study of Native Americans, communities, government, and the history of Los Angeles. Students study the ways various groups of people lived, how they interacted with others, and how geography shaped their lives.
The fourth grade program focuses on discovery: discovering learning styles, becoming self-aware of how you learn best, what skills you need to improve, and how your actions impact a group. The study of California, its history, and the people who settled here provide the foundation of the curriculum, that is integrated whenever possible.
In language arts, students explore a variety of genres through both whole class novels as well as book groups. Developing the ability to critically analyze a work of literature is the core to the program as students learn to examine an author’s purpose, style, and tone. Students become thoughtful readers who have transitioned from learning to read to reading to learn.
The Everyday Math curriculum becomes more complex, capitalizing on the students' higher level thinking skills. Fourth graders continue to master the concepts of large numbers positive and negative numbers, measurement, decimals, fractions, geometry, patterns, functions, sequences and algebra.
In global studies, students participate in a year-long exploration of the history and people of California. A highlight of the year is playing “The Great and Glorious Gold Rush Game,” where students maintain a journal and balance a bankbook, recording the events and expenses as if living during the Gold Rush era. The year culminates with a trip to Sacramento where fourth graders tour the capital, visit the gold fields and experience panning for gold firsthand.
Fifth Grade begins the departmentalization of our Upper Division with students receiving instruction from content specialty teachers. This allows for a more in-depth exploration of fields of study as well as preparation for the structure of secondary school. The Upper Division is a partnership between teachers, parents, students, and the school community, that guarantees the effective use of all available resources to create, provide, and support quality instruction and environments. Every student will develop the skills, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors needed in order to be a responsible, productive citizen and a lifelong learner in a diverse and changing global society.
Four core content area teachers deliver literature, writing, mathematics and global studies instruction. Students learn how to manage materials and expectations as they travel as a cohort between these classes. By creating a two-year experience to master the skills needed to navigate the world of middle school, Village students graduate more than ready for what lies ahead.
In literature students will read and respond to historically or culturally significant works of literature. They will develop their abilities to discern main ideas and concepts presented in texts, identifying and assessing evidence that supports them. They will also draw inferences, conclusions, or generalizations about text and support them with textual evidence and knowledge. Cultivating the joy and delight provided by reading ensures our students are voracious readers.
In writing students explore narrative, expository, persuasive and descriptive texts, as well as develop the skills needed to edit and revise their writing to improve its meaning and focus by adding, deleting, consolidating, clarifying, and rearranging words and sentences. Students also develop an appreciation and understanding of the craft of writing by heightening their awareness and examination of figurative language, symbolism and theme. Students also continue their mastery of applying correct spelling, grammar and mechanics to their writing.
Using Go Math as the core of our mathematics instruction, students increase their facility with the four basic arithmetic operations applied to fractions, decimals, and positive and negative numbers, explore geometry, data analysis, and foundational algebraic concepts. In addition, our students learn to use a textbook, transfer problems, and show their mathematical thinking, all of which are essential study skills. Engaging in group problem solving allows students time to develop the collaboration and communication skills needed to be successful mathematicians.
In global studies, students in the fifth grade will study the development of the nation up to 1850, with an emphasis on the people who were already here, when and from where others arrived, and why they came. Students will learn to recognize that ours is a nation that has a constitution that derives its power from the people, that has gone through a revolution, and that experienced a conflict over land with the original inhabitants. In sixth grade, the program starts with a focus on archaeology and the development of ancient civilizations, from pre-historical communities, to Mesopotamia, and through ancient Greece. Later in the school year, the focus shifts from archaeology to a study of foreign countries. Students research a country, write a complete report, then celebrate and present the studied country during Village School’s annual World’s Fair. To enrich their understanding of foreign cultures, students study five major world religions and take field trips to corresponding sites of worship.
Sixth grade is the culminating year at Village, so the program strives to balance students’ current needs while preparing them to transfer to middle school. A strong emphasis is placed on students' developing greater responsibility and independence.
Responsibility doesn’t just appear in the Village Values. Responsibility also appears in several long-anticipated projects and programs set aside for sixth graders because of their ability to see beyond their immediate concerns. Sixth graders are paired with a kindergarten “buddy” with whom they participate in many activities both on and off campus. Sixth graders participate in a community service partnership with the St. Joseph's Center of Venice, providing the priceless experience of working with preschool age children. Beginning in January, St. Joseph's students come to Village bi-monthly to read and do craft projects with sixth graders. Also, in the spring, the sixth grade puts on a musical play for the school.
Being a sixth grader at Village means that you look beyond yourself. You look for ways that you can use your talents to improve the community and lives of those around you. In essence, the students become philanthropists, altruistic ambassadors for the school, their families and their communities.