Our school's educational focus is an approach called the Subordination of Teaching to Learning, created by Dr. Caleb Gattegno (1911 - 1988), an Egyptian-born mathematician who developed materials and techniques for teaching languages, literacy, math and other subjects. Dr. Gattegno's basic principle is that if teachers encourage children's innate curiosity through multi-sensory learning activities, the teachers can step out of the way and the students will learn far more than they would in traditional classrooms.
As educators, we know that by the time students enter Kindergarten, they already have proven themselves to be outstanding learners, able to master such complex tasks as learning their mother tongue. Our mission is to help the students make efficient use of the learning powers they already have, to meet academic challenges with ease and confidence.
All of our teachers meet daily throughout the academic year to discuss how each student is learning and to improve our teaching skills.
Reading and Writing
To teach reading and writing skills, we use Gattegno's Words in Color. This effective reading program focuses on these elements of reading and writing one's native tongue: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency in decoding, vocabulary expansion, text comprehension, spelling, and self-expression through writing. By the end of 1st Grade, most of our children are able to decode words like orchestra, photograph, diaphragm and pneumatic - and they do so joyfully. They write creatively and confidently, with attention to structure, mechanics and spelling.
Gattegno Mathematics is firmly rooted in well-established methodology. By relying heavily on the use of manipulatives, primarily Cuisenaire rods, teachers ensure, even in the earliest stages, that students develop models for thinking mathematically. That provides children with a sound basis for accomplishing two essential goals: (1) they become swift and accurate in their computation skills and (2) they focus on problem-solving activities that involve real world application of those skills. The approach is particularly well suited to helping students master the proficiencies outlined in the Common Core standards, since the children must not only arrive at correct answers, but also show an awareness of the mathematical processes that leads to them.
We supplement those approaches with hands-on curricula in art, science and social studies, and with Reader's and Writer's Workshop in ELA. In addition, all children receive Physical Education and Music classes twice a week, and Art once a week. We also schedule classes in dance/movement, chess and Korean.
As anyone can see by viewing the ever-changing, vibrant walls in our hallways and classrooms, our students design beautiful artwork, write in a wide variety of genres, and create illustrations that exemplify simple and complex mathematical relationships.
To learn more about the subordination of teaching to learning,visit these important Gattegno-related websites:
Une Education Pour Demain is a website dedicated to Gattegno's methods and impact (translatable from French using Google Chrome Web Browser)
Here is Wikipedia's entry on Caleb Gattegno.