What is Progressive Education?
Can you give me an example of how this school is different than what I might be used to in a traditional classroom?
What type of child does well at The Downtown School?
What ages do you serve?
How will I know how my child is doing?
Do the students learn as much as they would in a more traditional setting?
Do you accept “sending town” tuition?
Where is The Downtown School located?
What is Progressive Education? The primary focus of progressive education is teaching children how to think instead of teaching them what to think. Progressive Education’s success began over 100 years ago and continues today at hundreds of schools in the U.S. and thousands around the world. Progressive Education stands in contrast to prevalent educational practices where the focus is on memorizing then repeating back facts, formulas, names, and dates, often at the expense of truly understanding the concepts and ideas behind what is being taught. Progressive education is founded on a fundamental belief that each child’s unique abilities, interests, ideas, questions, needs, and cultural identity contribute to the greater school community. Students who grow and learn in a progressive school environment develop deep knowledge and a critical, socially engaged intelligence, enabling them to successfully tackle the current and future challenges of their local and global community. Visionaries of progressive education include John Dewey, founder of The Lab School in Chicago; Lucie Sprague Mitchell, founder of The Bank Street School for Children in New York City; and Caroline Pratt, founder of The City & Country School in New York City.
Can you give me an example of how this school is different than what I might be used to in a traditional classroom? The Downtown School uses an interdisciplinary approach, meaning that academic subjects are not taught in a vacuum of “math now, English later, and then science”. Instead, our work is exploration focused, using engaging, interactive experiences that allow students to simultaneously explore challenges in reading, writing, scientific discovery, mathematical fluency, history, social responsibility, art, music, and physical development. Many of our explorations take us outside the classroom and out into our community, and are based on the collaborative interests and ideas of both students and teachers. Our academic learning comes directly from these projects and explorations. Consequently, our students are personally inspired to learn so they can answer their own questions arising from their own work. By making learning immediately relevant to their lives, we avoid that age-old question “but why do I have to learn this? I’m never going to need to know this in real life”. Children in The Downtown School learn because they want to find solutions to their own questions, tackle their own challenges, and solve their own problems. Make no mistake. Students at The Downtown School don’t “do whatever they want”. Students and teachers collaborate to choose content and projects, but our teachers create the framework for learning with clear and challenging short and long term goals for age-appropriate skill development in every aspect of the curriculum.
What type of child will does well at The Downtown School? The Downtown School is a great fit for a child who is naturally curious, full of questions, and interested in exploring the world to learn how and why. Our academic goals are as high as those you will find at the finest private or public school, but the pathway to achieving those goals sets us apart. We encourage students to delve deeply into big questions, not just skim the surface. We emphasize teamwork and group-problem-solving over competition. We use primary source material and authentic experiences over textbooks. We help students learn to ask important questions and build skills to seek out their own answers. In short, The Downtown School is for families seeking a whole-child, integrated approach to elementary education that will prepare their child for success in the complex, ever-changing world in which we live.
What ages do you serve? If your child or children will be entering Pre-Kindergarten through 4th grade in the fall of 2016, we encourage you to schedule a visit to learn more about The Downtown School. In 2016-2017 we will serve Pre-Kindergarten through 4th grade, and then continue to grow and add grades each year until we reach our final Pre-K through 8th grade size.
How will I know how my child is doing? The Downtown School is a community of students, teachers, and parents working together. Your child’s teacher will be available to you on a day-to-day basis to answer questions and talk with you about your child’s day or week, and a longer meeting can always be scheduled. Parents are welcome to visit their child’s classroom. We will provide an extensive written narrative assessment of your child’s progress three times a year. The assessment will cover progress and goals in academic areas, as well as social, emotional, and physical development. In addition, we will provide an assessment of your child’s academic progress as it relates to state standards, including the new Common Core standards. Any concerns will be discussed and, if needed, the student, parents, and teachers will work together to develop a whole-child focused plan to address the area of concern. As children progress through The Downtown School, they will also be introduced, in a supportive learning environment, to the skills of studying for a test and taking a test. By the time your child graduates from The Downtown School, he or she will have the skills to take on any testing challenges presented by your family’s high-school of choice.
Will the students learn as much as they would in a more traditional setting? At The Downtown School, our teachers have academic goals for each school year that are as rigorous as those you will find at the finest private or public school and that meet or exceed the new Common Core skills-based standards. Our students develop rich, deep and flexible knowledge and an ability to frame and solve problems that prepares them for success not only in high school and college, but in their adult professional lives as well. Our students are inspired to learn to their greatest possible potential. Our supportive, inclusive environment allows children to challenge assumptions and suggest new ways of looking at a problem without risking ridicule for either being “wrong” or being a “know-it-all”.
Do you accept “sending town” tuition? The Downtown School is a Vermont Approved School. As such, we can receive town-based tuition for families residing in “sending towns”. If you live in a town that does not have a municipal elementary school, most of your tuition is paid for by the town. Common “sending towns” in our area for elementary grades include Winhall, Sandgate, Stratton, and North Bennington.
Where is The Downtown School located? The Downtown School lives at a gorgeous, four-acre property in the heart of downtown Manchester. We are located at 106 Palmer Place, just behind Ye Olde Tavern, across the street from the brand new Manchester Community Library, and just a two minute walk on a path to the Manchester Rec Park. Please see our Campus page in About Us for more information.