Core Values of Independence Academy
Each child enters the environment with an innate curiosity and a vast love of learning. The best way to learn is by experiencing, by “doing”. We harness that natural curiosity by providing a hands-on, challenging, fun, and developmentally appropriate curriculum rich with experiences designed to foster the growth of each child.
IA values ongoing staff development and parent involvement. We model our love of learning by tending to our own continuing development and inspiring our children to view learning as a lifelong endeavor. We encourage active engagement with the community through staff and family participation in community events.
In the classroom, through experiential learning, children develop mastery over increasingly complex “work” in all areas of their development – physical, mental, and emotional. As they deepen their understanding and application of these skills, they build confidence in themselves and their abilities. They gain independence as they become more competent, and also grow to understand the value of their inter-dependence with others.
As they develop, students learn to mentor their younger classmates, embodying the ideal of being a positive, caring role model. They quickly learn that both the mentor and the mentee have much to learn and gain from their relationship.
Our focus on environmental sustainability and stewardship gives our school another avenue to emphasize giving. In the Spring, we cultivate a seasonal organic garden; the garden provides students with lessons across the curriculum, from manual dexterity to math, science, art, and the love of nature to the character building lessons of teamwork and empathy. It also teaches the ability to value, grow, and eat nutritious food. We use environmentally friendly, recycled, and sustainable materials in the classroom as much as possible.
Four Guiding Principles of Independence Academy
IA’s Four Guiding Principles are what guide our program in its entirety. Our materials, daily communication, and big picture outcomes are all derived from these four principles.
- Montessori and Reggio Inspired Curriculum: Our approach to learning encompasses both the Montessori philosophy and a Reggio inspired curriculum. Our classrooms will embody a hands-on learning approach with natural and thought-provoking materials. The Montessori materials offer a systematic approach to academics and concrete learning of concepts while the Reggio inspired provocations create an open-ended approach to inspire creative thinking.
- Nature Immersion: Creating play spaces that keep children immersed in nature is a key component to a healthy learning environment. Our playgrounds evolve and change with the seasons. They also are changed as children move objects and decorate the space. Our nature walks provide experiences to discover the beauty of nature. Building a deep connection with nature at a young age will help cultivate a lasting respect for the outdoors.
- Social and Emotional Growth through Conscious Discipline: Social and emotional growth is at the core of being able to work within a classroom and successfully navigate the world. Our children will learn about emotions and practice strategies for handling their emotions while they are calm so that they will have a foundation of tools to use when an emotion arises. Children will also learn how to recognize their emotions and communicate their needs.
- Child Progress Portfolios: Creating a portfolio is a way to document a child’s journey and their progress without using worksheets and testing. In the portfolios, connections are made between the child’s activities and the learning objectives along with developmentally appropriate guidelines. This portfolio includes pictures of the child, artwork, and other demonstrations of the child’s work throughout their time at Independence Academy. Through this documentation, we can have effective conferences with parents as well as create a time capsule of your child’s journey.
Key Philosophical Messages That Make Our Montessori and Reggio Inspired Curriculum Unique
• Deep respect for children as individuals
• Multi-age classes allow teachers to develop close and long-term relationships with their students, allow them to know each other’s learning style well, and encourage older students to become role models, mentors, and leaders to younger students.
• Integrated curriculum is carefully structured and connects subjects within programs (e.g., history and cultural arts to maximize the opportunity for learning and builds from program to program to progress from concrete to abstract learning).
• Independence is nurtured and leads to children becoming purposeful, motivated, and confident in their own abilities.
• Peace and conflict resolution are taught daily and children learn to be a part of a warm, respectful, and supportive community.
• The child creates, in a very real sense, the adult that is to be, through his/her experiences, interactions, and environments. Character development is a central focus of the American Montessori Society curriculum.*
• Hands-on learning is central to the curriculum in all programs and leads to children being engaged rather than passive with their work.
• The environments are responsibly and carefully prepared with multisensory, sequential, and self-correcting materials to support self-directed learning.
• Teachers, children and parents work together as a warm and supportive community.
• Self-expression is nurtured in all children. Children experience art, music, poetry, theater, writing, and other forms of creative arts with confidence and passion.