Project & experience based learning
Our academic program is grounded in the belief that children build knowledge by doing. This principle drives how we design activities, whether children are building a math concept using hands-on materials, investigating what a plant needs to grow, or engaging in a Pioneer Day simulation. Using the daily lives and innate curiosity of the students, math and science are studied in ways that help children make sense of the world. Within thematic units, children engage in project-based learning that allows them to define a question or topic to research, gather information, and present it in their own chosen format. Our academic program reflects the belief that if students are given the opportunity to explore a topic from a variety of perspectives and integrate it with other subjects, the knowledge gained truly belongs to the child.
Immersive learning outside the classroom
Learning that occurs in meaningful contexts is at the heart of all Open Plan curriculum. With day trips to places like MJC for Earth Day, the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley, or a simple fall walk in the park, along with overnight excursions to Monterey, Yosemite, and the Upper Department’s manning of a 19th century sailing vessel, our students are exposed to experiences that can’t be matched in the classroom. In these contexts, students make connections to literature, themes, and concepts that bring learning to life and create lasting memories.
Whole child education
Because productive interaction is central to an open education setting, social and emotional
growth is considered a part of the curriculum. Children learn to respect differences, and
teachers help them to navigate and resolve conflict so that all children can feel safe, valued and empowered. Similarities and differences between individuals and cultures are celebrated andexpanded upon as children begin to visualize a world outside of their own.
Parent participation is an essential component of Open Plan. Our program recognizes that parents are a child’s most influential teacher, and the best education is the result of a full and genuine partnership between child, parent, teacher, and community. Parents who enroll their child here are making a serious commitment of their own time and energy. Parents participate in numerous ways, from supporting instruction in the classroom, preparing instructional materials either on campus or at home, sharing personal expertise, working on committees, and organizing events. As friendships are forged, a unique and lasting community of families is formed.
Cross age partnering
The cross-aging of children from different departments is another fundamental component of an Open Plan education. Cross-aging provides opportunities to build relationships, encourages responsibility within the community, and allows children to share skills and ideas. These multi-age experiences teach older children important lessons in role modeling, nurturing, and skill reinforcement, while younger children learn that they have value in the eyes of their esteemed older partners.