Our third graders recently explored symmetrical stitched designs. They began by looking at examples of Chinese embroidery and discussing the intricate designs and varied stitches. With a plastic needle and yarn, students intermittently watched a basic stitch video while practicing on their own piece of burlap.
Our goals each year include problem solving, critical thinking, and improving social skills. We provide ample opportunities for children to do hands on projects, based on their own interests, we provide children with engaging materials, and ask them questions to provoke their thinking.
As a progressive school, our vision for mathematics has many unifying elements. It is our expectation that students look beyond “doing math” to “thinking like mathematicians,” and to see the potential for beauty, fun, creativity, and trans-disciplinary connections in mathematics.
There is no instruction manual on how to teach children. Children don’t need to follow anyone to explore the world. Instead, we focus on children’s learning processes and experiences, not on pushing children to remember all the academic material. Teachers and children observe, find questions, search for the result and solve issues together; building knowledge and gaining new experiences while learning from each other.
This kind of natural evolution is a planned accident. “We don’t have a curriculum for the whole school year planned out,” says Daisy. “We have basic skills and goals that we want to develop, and we follow the children’s interests.”
As we begin the new year, and as we take a moment to look back and reflect on last year, I want to highlight one unifying thread from our children's experiences in the preschool over the first few months of the school year.
This year, we are presenting a series of posts profiling PKS teachers. The first installment features Mandarin-immersion preschool teacher Shihpei Chen.
Without a doubt a school can be a progressive school and a language immersion school. There’s nothing about language immersion that limits our ability to implement progressive or vice versa. One specific example: repetition and daily practice of characters is an important part of learning Chinese. A progressive approach would be to consider: what is the appropriate amount of time for a 3rd grader to engage in this practice, and how do we make it as engaging and enjoyable as possible? There is no one strategy that is cancelled out by progressive – it’s about weighing kids’ developmental needs to create a well-rounded approach.