Beyond the Classroom
Learning in Early Childhood does not only take place in the classroom. Students in grades Pre-Kindergarten, Junior Kindergarten, and Kindergarten are able to take part in a variety of additional activities to extend their learning outside of the W+H school day.
- After School Programming
- Early Childhood & Lower School Garden
- Environmental Sustainability
- Kindergarten-Fifth Grade Buddy Program
- Service Learning
- Upper School Buddy Program
Children of all ages learn best through activities that spark their natural curiosity. Beyond the academic day, enrichment opportunities which introduce new skills or experiences will provide the youngest learners with more opportunities to be comfortable and try new things. The Wardlaw+Hartridge School has a wide variety of after and outside of school programming including our extended day program for the early childhood students, Explorers; our Early Childhood Enrichment Program, vacation break camps and Camp Funshine, our summer day camp for children ages 3 through 6.
All Early Childhood and Lower School students actively participate in the School Garden which was initially made possible in large part by the support of the Wardlaw+Hartridge Parents Association. The quaint, organic garden with six raised beds has an impact on the students, faculty, families, and the community, at large. Students experience planting and then harvesting seasonal vegetables. Much of our produce is donated to a local food bank.
Many lessons are integrated into our garden setting. Every discipline finds its way into the garden within the school day. Teachers incorporate core subjects such as mathematics, by measuring different types of alliums and create grids in the boxes before planting. Art instruction has our young artists sketching and painting in various parts of the garden. In Spanish class, students create Spanish/English signs that label various beds and flora. The Second Graders write expressive poetry in and about the garden, while our First Graders busy themselves with composting experiments.
We take the opportunity to educate our students about environmental concerns that are connected to the garden, such as the declining numbers of bees and monarch butterflies. Then, students learn what we can do to help. Our students look forward to our large all-day Earth Day celebration every year. Older grades often partner with a lower grade level to accomplish such garden projects throughout the year.
Many families volunteer to water and care for our garden during the summer months. The garden has truly become a hub of the school with students of all ages as well as parents and teachers enjoying the sheer beauty of nature. Our goals are to not only teach about gardening but more importantly, about caring for our world. Any day is a good day in the garden.
2017 Green Thumb Challenge Runner-Up as sponsored by the Green Education Foundation
The Wardlaw+Hartridge School is committed to nurturing responsible, compassionate, and well-informed individuals. We include environmental considerations within our classrooms, our curricula, and our building and grounds. We recognize the impact our actions have in the world and will act in a way that secures a rich and healthy future for generations to come. As a part of our Core Values, Wardlaw+Hartridge prepares students to become citizens whose beliefs and actions will create a more humane and sustainable global society. In the youngest grades, our work with environmental sustainability begins by making classroom recycling part of our everyday life. Students are provided opportunities to take responsible action such as repurposing materials used in class and using reusable water bottles daily in the classroom. As Lower School students develop an appreciation for the natural world in their science and STEM classes and while outdoors at recess, they are encouraged to learn about and protect the environment preserving its beauty for future generations. Throughout the Lower School curriculum teachers explicitly and intentionally teach about the complexity and interrelatedness of natural and human-created systems and how humans interact with and affect those systems. Earth Day is an important holiday in the Lower School as an annual kickoff to emphasize a daily effort in green, sustainable living. Events such as nature walks, planting in the garden, Tree Grounding Meditation, and recycling collections allow the youngest children to understand their impact on our world.
The Kindergarten and Fifth Grade Buddy Program is an important part of the Lower School experience. Fifth Graders take on the responsibility of Leaders of the Lower School, and through this, they see themselves as models for all of the other students. This added responsibility is important for the Fifth Grade students to take on as it nourishes the developmental growing capacity for higher-order thinking. At this age, children look to take on work that feels “grown-up” to demonstrate competence.
The Kindergarten students, as well, gain from this relationship. The feelings of awe, belonging, acceptance, and recognition, which five- and six-year-old students long for, as also provided by their Fifth Grade Buddy. After the first month of school, Kindergarten students join the First through Fifth Grades in the lunchroom. Fifth Grade and Kindergarten sit intermixed at tables. The younger children have a sense of comfort in an otherwise overwhelming space, while the older children carry a sense of importance demonstrating responsibility in their role.
Throughout the Early Childhood and Lower School years, students learn to be of service in their community through a variety of ways. Students in Pre-Kindergarten, Junior Kindergarten, and Kindergarten participate in larger service-oriented activities such as collecting crayons to be repurposed for students in need of school supplies. Lower School students serve the local and global communities with outreach projects. Many efforts are those which are held annually, and other efforts are derived from the students’ own interests and passions. The pop-up service work is often the most impactful as the students arrive at the need on their own. Understanding the need for service learning and the impact of the work is supported with classroom discussions, related readings, and other collaborative activities. It is often through this that children come up with ideas for service such as collecting supplies for comfort packages to give to the local fire department as they help others. As a member of the global community, our students develop a sense of responsibility to the communities to which they belong. As Early Childhood and Lower School students grow with this ethos of care for the community, service-learning becomes the norm.
Upper School Seniors are paired with Lower School classes as Buddy Classes. In the beginning of the school year, a small ceremony introduces each Senior to the Lower School class they are matched to. In both formal and informal ways, Seniors are able to interact with Lower Schoolers. From walking around with their buddies during the Halloween Parade, to coming to recess, and casual pop-ins as the year progresses, this connection back to the beginning of the W+H experience, is another reciprocal social relationship.
Through these relationships, students have opportunities to practice taking turns, share knowledge, listen to each other, help and praise one another, and complete tasks with the help of someone outside of the adults in their lives.