At Golden Valley Tahoe School we value the importance of forming a connection to the natural world around us. Founded in ideas about the interconnectivity of nature, the importance of relationship-based teaching and the incredible power of experiential learning, GVTS's Ecological Literacy program takes students on an journey rich in experiences that allows each of them to develop a deep and hands on relationship with the land, the water, and the organisms that surround us. During this journey, children encounter experiences which allow them to interact with the scientific process and explore the Next Generation Science Standards in detail. This year the children explored forests and meadows, training their senses, making observations and beginning to formulate their own questions from what they observe.
The handwork curriculum grows along with the children, progressing with them and supporting them through their developmental stages. Handwork begins in kindergarten as the children explore the worlds of fiber, color, and form. In the first grade, children learn the basic knit stitch and create practical projects in wool or cotton. In second and third grades, this is continued with purling and crochet, which add new movements and require more focus on each row and stitch. In fourth grade, when children undergo a change in consciousness toward individuality, the curriculum reflects this more elaborate stage in their development by teaching cross-stitch. In fifth grade, we begin woodworking and more complex knitting projects, which support the students in their efforts to explore and carve out their newfound individuality. Handwork and woodworking are valuable in the development of intellectual clarity, fine motor skills and inner calm. They allow children to experience the self-confidence and joy that come from the creation of something beautiful and practical.
Music is brought to the children as another language that they can grow to understand and love. Through singing together, they begin to place themselves with others in society. Beginning in first grade, children sing and play pentatonic flutes. This helps them develop the art of listening while exploring rhythm, words and melody. As they progress through the grades, children move from songs in unison to the beginning of harmony work (the singing of rounds) and the playing of more complex instruments, such as diatonic flutes and violin. With their musical comprehension and skills building from year to year, children can read music, play in ensemble and sing in directed choral groups by the time they reach sixth, seventh and eighth grades.
Spanish starts in Kindergarten or the First Grade with singing, games, and conversation. It progresses in the early grades to include simple conversation and recitation. Grammar, speech, composition and reading become the focus in the older grades. Through the study of another language, insights into other cultures and a deeper understanding of language result.