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Teaching Values

Our children develop confidence through both academic and creative achievement.

We know that when children explore and develop skills in a way that is personally relevant to them, they better learn to value their own perceptions. Our students become self-directed in learning and in life. We encourage imagination and creative expression. We believe it is essential in helping children to reach their full potential.

There are six core teaching values that guide our philosophy.

Relationship

Children learn best when they are known, trusted and valued, and when their social environment is safe, respectful and inclusive.

Students are explicitly taught techniques for peaceful conflict resolution, beginning with understanding and expressing their needs and hearing the needs of others.

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Relevance

Children are motivated to learn more and go deeper when topics are relevant and connected to what they care about—when learning is a tool for exploring and making sense of their world. Children’s belief in themselves as learners grows as they have an opportunity to set goals they care about and solve problems that may seem hard at first.

Students work with teachers to identify personal learning goals. Through managing and presenting their portfolio they come to recognize their growth and increasing skills and abilities.

Discovery

 

Children learn best through discovery and direct experience – when they are active partners in solving problems, rather than passive recipients of teaching.

Teachers use hands-on, manipulative activities in math which allow children to discover the concepts that underlie a pencil-and-paper procedure.

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Creativity

 

Children develop confidence in their own voice and perspective if they have the opportunity for creative self-expression – in a setting where originality and innovative thinking are honored.

Arts are woven into curriculum in all subject areas. Children have rich and varied experiences with visual arts, drama, movement, and daily community singing.

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Leadership

Children learn best when they are known, trusted and valued, and when their social environment is safe, respectful and inclusive.

Every Friday children teach workshops to small groups of other children of all ages—how to make a pinch pot, how to make tortillas, all about turtles—learning from and teaching their peers.

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Inclusiveness

We emphasize an inclusive community where each member feels welcome and valued, because a nurturing and protective environment allows children to take educational and social risks.

Students begin each year with a discussion of social norms, resulting in resolution to follow a shared and mutually agreeable social contract.

 

Curriculum 

We strive to identify and meet the unique educational needs of each child.
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Students are given the opportunity to learn at their own level. Our low teacher to student ratio fosters deeper connections and allows teachers to meet the learning needs of each student. 

Students establish self identified S.M.A.R.T learning goals with guidance from the teachers, and these goals are routinely visited and modified as needed. We adhere to the standards set by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). 

Below, view an example of the daily schedule at OCS.

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Math

 

Math is taught using a hands-on approach that incorporates many types of problem-solving activities. New concepts are introduced in concrete ways, helping students solidify their understanding of mathematical concepts before moving on to abstract processes. 

Students at OCS are encouraged to solve mathematical problems in a variety of ways and to develop methods that make sense and work for them, rather than simply memorizing a set of standard rules. The process of solving problems is just as valued as finding actual answers. Students are often asked to explain their thinking verbally, with pictures, and in writing.

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Literacy

Language Arts time is spent in a variety of ways. Children and teachers may meet in small groups for reading circles or phonics groups, children may rotate through various literacy centers, or the whole group may be in Writing Workshop working on a special literary concept such as poetry, personal narratives, creative writing, etc. 

Reading is taught through a combination of "whole language" and phonetic approaches. From the very beginning, children read both fiction and non-fiction. We use a combination of tools to assess and group children such as "Words Their Way" to help place children in appropriate phonics and reading groups. In the older grades, this assessment also influences their word and spelling studies. All children read books in small groups and also on their own, according to their reading level and personal interests. 

We practice finding the "Just right book" as well as being secure of where we are as a learner. As the children grow older, the books read together in small groups take on the form of a book club. These books may be read with a partner, aloud with the group, independently in class, or at home. Together we discuss our readings and practice predicting, questioning, clarifying, analyzing and summarizing.

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Thematic Learning

Social Studies and Science curriculum are incorporated into our yearly theme. Past themes have included: “Where the Wind Blows,” “Our Living Earth, and “Bodies in Motion” Children’s emerging academic skills and creativity are exercised through a series of open-ended projects where children explore, manipulate and represent knowledge. For example, Our Living Earth projects included breaking geodes, reports on burrowing animals, crafting islands using various topological features, and using the scientific method to make predictions about the world around them.

 

Themes are common to the whole school, allowing for students of all ages to interact, while specific activities and concepts are presented at different and developmentally appropriate levels within classes.

Enrichment 

OCS offers various enrichment extracurricular activities on Wednesday afternoons. These classes are taught by support staff, parent volunteers, or local community members. This is a wonderful opportunity for kids to engage in fun and exciting learning experiences. Some examples of previous & past enrichment activities include: Spanish, Creative Science, Music, Movement, Tae Kwon Do, Ceramics, and much more!

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Workshops & Field Trips

Fridays at OCS are filled with broadening our education through real world experiences and community led learning. 

 

Both students and parents teach workshops to our students. These are opportunities for students to share their skills, hobbies, crafts, etc. with their fellow schoolmates.  In doing so, our students practice teaching to their peers, which helps build confidence and public speaking skills.

 

In addition to workshops, we venture out on field trips to enforce learning concepts and enrich the educational experience. The destinations are typically rooted within our theme for the year. We also participate in community service field trips that demonstrate the value of serving the needs of others and shapes our students to become compassionate citizens. 

 
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Kids Club

Care before and after school.

At Olympia Community School, our instructional day runs from 9-3 pm. Our community has diverse schedules: some have two parents working outside the home, others are single parents, still others work hours that overlap with our school day. To provide flexibility for parents and additional enriching experiences for students, we offer a before and after school club.

 

Before care begins at 7 am, and after care runs until 5:30 pm.  This service is an additional charge, more information about tuition and the program can be found here