Interdisciplinary Project-Based Learning
At Science, Language & Arts International School, context is everything: Our hands-on approach and integrated curriculum allow children to build deep connections across all areas of learning. Arts are integrated into both science and social studies. For example, when children study world cultures, they learn about their history and geography, taste their foods, play their instruments, study their art, and dance their traditional dances.
Art is integrated with science and math in important ways. Drawing from observation, a key science and art skill, is taught from the earliest grades. Color mixing is an integral part of illustrating what children see. Geometry is a rich content source for creating beautiful and original art projects that both teach and provide opportunity for artistic expression.
SLA is not a dabbling school. Children are immersed in projects for days, weeks, and months at a time. Teachers guide children in explorations and experiments, preparing students to be lifelong learners.
French & Mandarin Immersion
SLA has developed a pioneering scaffolded immersion model to help students achieve fluency in a supportive, stress-free environment. Our model ensures that all students, regardless of prior exposure to the target language, are able to use important everyday vocabulary and structures right away. Children quickly gain the tools to comfortably communicate in the target language, and learning is reinforced through music, role-playing, games, meaningful play, and conversation.
For our youngest students in Nursery, the target language is spoken 100 percent of the time. In Pre-K and Kindergarten, it shifts to roughly 95 percent, to allow for enrichment instruction in English or a third language two periods per week. English is used sparingly, as a minimal scaffolding for those with no exposure, as well as to explain important rules for children’s safety and comfort. As children progress through our program, the language balance gradually shifts toward 50 percent to ensure a high level of literacy and proficiency in English and math in the upper grades.
During Grades 1 and 2, students begin to learn to read fluently in both languages, and solidify their understanding of our number system. By Grade 3, children are reading to learn in both languages, and are equipped to use the target language in all aspects of their school day. In Grades 4 and 5, 50 percent of class time is in the target language, including math.
French & Mandarin
The success of our French immersion program has informed our growing Mandarin track, a program that will grow one grade per year from Pre-K in the 2018–19 school year, reaching Grade 8 in 2024.
At SLA, our instructional unit of measure is the small group. Our low student to teacher ratio (6:1) allows faculty to know each child as an individual and offer personal and customized attention. Throughout the school day, children work in small groups of two to six for various activities, changing groups for different subjects as their strengths and needs require. Collaboration in different groups throughout the day introduces fresh perspectives and challenges while developing critical thinking and independent problem-solving skills.
Our teachers are trained to recognize learning differences and assess the social-emotional needs of each child. With the small-group model, children work with others at their level to learn key collaboration skills, challenge themselves academically, and receive targeted attention from their teachers.
Homework & Assessment
“Thank you for this wonderful, detailed report! We are so happy to see [our child’s] development this year and a big thank you for the support that you all have provided.”
– Parent, Grade 1 student
We believe the school day itself presents ample opportunity for academic work, and a child’s time away from school should be devoted to family, play, developing other interests, and rest. Research clearly demonstrates no correlation between homework and scholastic success in Elementary-age children. Accordingly, we do not assign any mandatory homework beyond independent reading or handwriting practice to students before the Upper Elementary grades.
As children progress through our program, we provide families with narrative evaluations and direct feedback during fall and spring conferences. Internal checklists, tied to each syllabus in our curriculum and cross-checked against state and national standards, inform teachers as they assess the needs and progress of each student. We ensure that our evaluations give families a full picture of their child’s academic progress at school, as well as their social-emotional development.