In keeping with our approach, curriculum at PCS is student and subject centered, emergent, place-based, arts-integrated and rich in language and literacy, problem solving, critical thinking, environmental science, and history. We approach learning through themes and projects rather than pre-determined lesson plans, which enables students to have a dynamic, hands-on, experiential program that sparks their curiosity and inspires a love of learning.
Early Childhood at PCS is a time of exploration. We believe that fostering a sense of wonder has an essential role in the rest of our lives, and it is crucial to nourish this natural inclination with our youngest students. Our early childhood facilitators balance intentional provocations and investigations with unstructured opportunities that connect with the outside world and engage all of the senses. Children at this age rely heavily on their senses to process information when learning. Using multiple senses allows more cognitive connections and associations to be made. Play also has a prominent role in this setting, ensuring that learning is meaningful and joyful.
Play is structured and unstructured
Explorations are deliberately planned to activate all the senses
Connections to the outside world happen as much as possible by going outside and bringing the outdoors in.
A variety of open ended play opportunities are provided such as imaginary play and construction
Attention to physical development: fine motor, large motor, large muscles, hands-on
Attention to language development: talking, read alouds, drama corner
Even our youngest children have jobs, whether it is delivering food to the food pantry or wiping off their tables.
Lower Primary (K/1)
Lower Primary is a time when our students move from open-ended exploration to experimentation and research. Learning how to use their five senses to solve real-world problems, this group moves gradually away from open-ended explorations to ones that are more intentional and deliberate. These children are invited to wonder, ask questions, probe deeper, and problem solve. At this age, children begin to apply their knowledge in an attempt to put more order to their world. They do this by naming, labeling, comparing, contrasting, sorting and looking for patterns, both natural and man-made.
Middle Primary (2/3/4)
This is a phase of making discoveries. Our Middle Primary students build upon their prior explorations and open-ended experimentation, and learn how to apply their knowledge and skill sets. Middle Primary students learn how to problem solve, think scientifically, and conduct experiments using the scientific method. In fact, they are taught how to approach most learning experiences by asking meaningful questions, making predictions based on their prior knowledge, testing their ideas, observing, recording data, and drawing conclusions. This ends with the students making proposals and recommendations for further actions. This problem-solving approach is not only useful in scientific experiments, but in self-reflection, math, friendship building, and all other domains. Middle Primary students see themselves as active participants in their own learning, our community, and outside the walls of PCS. Academic skills explicitly prepare students for and support this work.
Upper Primary (5/6)
Our Upper Primary students enter the time of strength, empowerment and innovation. Through a variety of community service projects and learning experiences (whole group and individual) that take them out into the world, our oldest students not only learn about but also experience first hand and come to understand the interconnectedness of everything. Building off of prior years, our Upper Primary students are able to identify problems, propose solutions, and work toward resolution and innovation.
PCS Upper School students are empowered and motivated to investigate their own areas of interest, work collaboratively, and complete complex projects. These older students think creatively and with flexibility as they consider difficult questions and take ownership of their own learning.
To address both academic and social-emotional needs, Upper Primary students benefit from small group meetings to discuss classwork, adolescent issues, and, as our elder ambassadors, run our Student Council as well as plan community service projects.