The curriculum at Mountain Sun is based on our mission and designed to be inclusive of the student’s whole development needs. The open classroom setting and the multi-age environment provides us with the ability to address each students' developmental stage while at the same time providing them ample inspiration and appropriate challenges. In the academic realm, much of what we teach is integrated in thematic studies or lessons that are offered in ways that makes the material relevant to the students' lives. In kindergarten and the lower elementary years, students are engaged cognitively through hands-on materials, story, and themes. As the students enter into the upper elementary years, the learning and the practice of the academic skills becomes more abstract while thematic units continue to connect the subjects and bring the concepts alive.
In designing our curriculum, we are mindful of the academic benchmarks for each grade level that is reflective of the NC Standards. Yet we also maintain the ability to individualize our approach with each child so that if they are excelling in a certain subject, they may be offered lessons and engaged in learning in higher ‘grade’ level material. The same is true if they are challenged in another area; we are able to take the time to offer one-on-one lessons so that the child has full understanding of the material before moving on to more advanced concepts. The multi-age classroom gives children a sense of ownership and pride in their work at any age and is absent of labels such as “gifted, average, or below average.” Every student is recognized as gifted and their gifts are given opportunity to flourish. Their uniqueness as a learner and a person is not only recognized, nurtured and appropriately challenged by their teachers, but is also embraced and celebrated by their peers. Our students sense of accountability to their individual work plans develops a naturally motivated student. Furthermore the student's excitement for their learning process and their immersion in material that is relevant to their lives, develops a deep internalization of the child's sense of self as a learner.
The developmental proces is a naturally integrated experience for children. Our curriculum and classroom communities are designed to allow for this continual integration. For example, addressing the child’s cognitive development is often inclusive of their physical engagement with the materials or the natural world. Attending to the child’s social development may include cognitive work, where the student is collaborating with others on a group project. The child’s emotional development may be nurtured through a physical challenge. A child may be addressing their spiritual development through the creative arts or thematic units where discovery of their passions and strengths are often revealed. The child's sense of awe, contemplation, and interconnection of life may also be awakened through one of Montessori’s “five great lessons."
Our holistic curriculum includes:
- Language Arts
- Cultural Studies
- Environmental Studies
- Visual Arts
- Community Building
- Service Learning
- Care for Self
- Peaceful Conflict Resolution
- Exploration of the Natural World
- Lessons in Grace and Courtesy
The Hidden Curriculum
At Mountain Sun, we also recognize the hidden curriculum or ‘meta-messages’ of schooling that are implicit aspects, usually unintentional that play a role in constructing a student’s image of self, others, and the world. We understand the powerful influence the culture and climate of a school environment can have on a child’s development. Please see the following link to read more: "Hidden Curriculum"
Homework Approach & Philosophy
First and foremost, we believe school is the place where the hands-on learning, knowledge acquisition, and fundamental academic and cognitive skills should be practiced. We believe time outside of school should be primarily spent on other childhood pursuits. Furthermore, we believe “homework” should consist of real-life experiences that can reinforce the learning happening in the classroom. Please read the following link for further information about our “Homework Approach.”
Assessment Methods & Approach
We wish to have a process of assessment that respects the learner and respects the quality and depth of the learning journey. Holistic education is designed to do exactly that. Such a thorough approach to learning creates a need for evaluating that learning in a way that is more comprehensive than the model commonly set before the public. Please see the following link to read more about our “Assessment Methods” and approach.
For further information about grade level benchmarks or about our curriculum, please email our Director, email@example.com.