The Neighborhood Schoolhouse was founded in 1980, inspired by the Progressive Education Movement and the concept of an integrated curriculum, which teaches children to think critically, solve problems creatively and seek positive roles in their communities.
At Neighborhood, the woods and gardens, spacious multiage classrooms, and surrounding neighborhood are all seamlessly integrated into a curriculum that emphasizes
This curriculum is taught to all children through age-appropriate activities in our preschool, kindergarten and elementary programs, and through special programming.
How Our Students Learn
Time is set aside daily for individual skill development through intensive reading, writing and mathematics. Children in kindergarten through sixth grade work one-on-one with a dedicated literacy and writing specialist. These fundamental skills are also integrated throughout the curriculum, as students conduct research, write stories, keep journals and graph results of experiments.
Learning is not broken down into subject areas – but all subject areas are covered, in a contextualized way that aids retention. Social studies and earth science are not taught from separate textbooks. In fact, these two subjects are profoundly interrelated, and are often addressed through the exact same “lesson.”For example, students might build dioramas of villages using a variety of soil types, and then experiment. What can grow here? How many people can live here? What effect might flooding or erosion have on their economy? Because children are learning by setting up a scenario and then manipulating it themselves, they remember what they have learned. And they move on eagerly to the next stage of learning.
The results speak for themselves. Our alumni thrive at public middle schools and high schools as well as private ones. A very high percentage make the honor roll repeatedly, and teachers continually remark about their study skills, enthusiasm and ability to work independently.
Progressive education encourages children to explore, examine and experiment with their surroundings. At Neighborhood, the protected Retreat woods are a constant resource – as essential to everyday classroom life as paper, pencils and books.
Whether building a scale-model colonial village along the banks of a spring, poking mystery slime near a vernal pool, getting a drink from a wild grape vine, or watching how snow is made for the ski jump, students fully inhabit their surroundings. They learn to think about their relationship to nature, ask questions about their world and answer their own questions through a combination of observation, experimentation and research.
The school gardens also afford exciting learning opportunities for all ages. While planning, planting, mulching, weeding, harvesting and cooking together, students and teachers discuss everything from earth worms and compost to vitamin A’s role in supporting good vision to how large-scale food systems work.
Exploring our relationship to nature and developing knowledge of the world around us are essential. These explorations come full circle when children begin to look beyond their own interests and seek positive roles in the community.
Neighborhood is built on a solid foundation of cooperation and peaceful conflict resolution. These practices structure our team-taught, multiage programs. They are modeled throughout the day and are explicitly taught to students.
The buddy program (elementary students working one-on-one with preschoolers) and mix-up day (students of all ages visiting other classrooms) expand each child’s social circle beyond his closest peers. Confident readers participate in the Reading Buddies program with elders at the nearby Holton Home, widening the intergenerational circle even more.
Every day, in every classroom, we take time to be grateful for what we have, and we think about how we can make life better for others. These are probably the most important lessons our students learn.