Art and Architecture
Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist when we grow up.” The goal of our Art and Architecture curriculum is to solve this problem by inculcating an appreciation for art within our students. To this end we explore the work of some of the Great Artists, not only examining their work but also learning to emulate their styles, mediums, and processes. We also visit art museums, where we use the Visual Thinking Skills curriculum to challenge the children to describe the art and the feelings it invoked in them, asking them to narrate what was going on in the paintings from their perspective.
Exploring and developing our creative selves is one of the most important parts of development. With this in mind, Windsor Academy developed a Creative Dramatics curriculum. We begin by playing imagination games in circle time: imagining that a simple cardboard box is really a hat or a refrigerator or a car. Then we take the children to a professional theatre production, where they see an on-stage production of stories we’ve been reading at school. Inspired, the children then come back to school and choose a mini-musical they’d like to perform. They create their own sets, costumes, and props and then present their very own theatre production to their parent’s right here at Windsor, giving them a chance to express their inner creativity.
Health, Safety, and Nutrition
Being healthy, safe, and well fed is a critical factor in the development of a child. Windsor likes to give its students authentic, hands on learning experiences by inviting real health care professionals, like ER doctors, dentists, physical therapists, and optometrists, to talk to the class about how they can stay healthy as they grow. We also have fire engines and ambulances visit Windsor, and the children get a chance to see and explore them. These experiences aren’t just fun; they also help teach children things that will keep them safe and healthy into adulthood. And while we always provide yummy, nutritious meals and snacks at Windsor, we also like to give the children the know-how to eat well throughout their entire lives.
The preparation of food is one of the most important parts of human society, but in today’s modern world we are increasingly alienated from this process. Most children, and many adults, have no idea where the food they eat comes from. Windsor Academy tries to rectify this by taking our students on field trips, for example, to a bakery, giving the children a behind the scenes look at how the bread they eat is prepared. They then take this knowledge and apply it back at the school by baking bread of their very own. We also highlight how food varies across cultures by hosting a multicultural bread day, where children bring in examples of bread from their own cultures and cuisines to share with friends.
Like most children, our students love the idea of outer space. We start our Space and NASA curriculum by getting the students to engage in creative play; they create jetpacks, spacesuits, and even their very own mission control center out of recycled materials, building their creativity and enhancing their interest in the topic. Then we take a field trip to NASA’s AMES Exploration Center at Moffett field, where the children get a chance to see what the space agency up close. We also have visitors from NASA come to the school, along with a real live spacesuit that the children can try on. Our students also create their own science projects, like a scale-model of the solar system in Windsor’s backyard.
All life on Earth is dependent on the growth of living things. Windsor Academy likes to take our students to a local farm in hopes of imparting this lesson to them. They get a chance to feed chickens, brush the wooly coats of sheep, and taste produce that comes fresh out of the ground. The children get an appreciation for where the meat they eat, the milk they drink and even the clothes they wear come from. We also have our students grow their own plants right here at Windsor! This, combined with weekly, themed nature walks where the children observe different parts of the natural world such as birds, flowers, or the rain, helps foster an appreciation for the environment.
Windsor Academy took our students to the Bay Area Maker Faire! The Maker’s Faire is a celebration of invention and creation put on by Make magazine to promote Do-It-Yourself culture. It brings together experts from a wide variety of fields to one place, where they can share their talents with each other and the public. The fair focuses on three impact areas: Inspiring people to create, helping foster Innovation at the grassroots, and helping build links with the community to spread Education. Not only do the children get to see wonderful examples of craft, science, and engineering, they also learn that they too can create for themselves instead of just engaging in consumerism.
Windsor Academy believes that it is important to teach children to respect all people, no matter who they are. We bring in guest speakers from different cultural groups to expose them to different backgrounds and help teach them tolerance. We also encourage children to talk to the class about their family’s traditions around important holidays like Chinese New Year or Holi, the spring festival of colors. For the students sharing, this is a great opportunity to build self-confidence, while the listening students get an inside view of different cultures. Windsor also always goes caroling around our neighborhood during December. By sharing all the different ways we celebrate life, we hope to show that each one is valid.
During their last two months at Windsor, we like to start our children’s transition to Kindergarten early so that the process is less stressful for them. We start asking parents to bring their children at 8:10 sharp, encourage a fixed and early bedtime at home, have the children begin to bring in packed lunches, and begin to explore schoolyard bullying through discussion and role-playing. Our hope is that by introducing these changes in a familiar environment, we will reduce the amount of anxiety associated with them. This gives Windsor children a step up when they start Kindergarten. We also hold kindergarten selection seminars to help parents understand their options during a daunting process.