We extend the classroom experience to include outdoor education in order to provide meaningful, integrated, contextual learning opportunities.Our Extended Day Program supports the needs of families and their children by providing an environment that is warm and nurturing and where children have fun, relax, learn, and spend time with friends.
Walk into Touchstone Community School and experience the difference that a child-centered educational community makes in the lives of everyone who gathers here daily. Children come to school happily, eagerly, and with stories to tell and discoveries to share with each other, with their teachers, and with the parents who participate in school life on a daily basis.
Our campus hums with activity. You may find a small group of three-, four- and five-year-olds making bread in the kitchen while a class of seven- and eight-year-olds heads off to the gym. Nearby, two 11-year-olds take turns reading their own poems and asking each other for feedback. Rather than by grade levels, our classrooms typically group children who span two or three age levels. These small, multi-age groups allow each child to develop individually in an academically challenging environment.
Our program is organized into three groups: we offer a preschool setting for children beginning at age 3.3, an elementary program for children ages five to 12, and middle school program for children from 12 to 15.
Touchstone Community School’s highly experienced and dedicated teaching staff creates, each year, our deep, rich curriculum that is responsive to children’s interests and uses an inquiry-based, integrated approach emphasizing hands-on activities.
Teachers organize reading, writing, social studies, science, art, math, movement and music activities around core subjects – a thematic approach to learning. A classroom’s exploration may be organized around farms and food, Inuit culture, migratory birds, or the local area watershed; themes are often developed collaboratively between a teacher and her students. This integrated, thematic approach leads children to make meaningful connections as their knowledge of the world grows in breadth, depth, and sophistication.
We place a particular emphasis on time spent outdoors, and when we speak of “outdoor education,” it refers to many things: organized ropes and challenge courses, active participation in our extensive gardening program, scientific inquiry of the natural world, and time spent outside at recess. We extend the classroom experience to include outdoor spaces in order to provide meaningful, integrated, contextual learning opportunities. We also send children outdoors simply to play.
The benefits children derive from being outside are myriad and well-documented. From connecting in lasting ways to our natural environment to having free time to play in the fresh air and sunshine, children relish time outdoors. Aside from the fundamental health benefits of an active life, children develop leadership skills, curiosity, imagination, problem-solving skills, teamwork, respect for nature, and a strong sense of their own capabilities.
All our students spend time outside every day our younger students get an hour of recess daily, and after about age 11 students have 30 minutes of recess daily. The only conditions that keep us indoors are thunderstorms or temperatures below 20F. Physical education classes, held three times weekly, regularly meet outdoors. Classroom teachers often take students out onto our nature trail or into our open-air gazebo either as part of their curriculum or simply to be outside. In addition, we feature regular field trips that include ropes and other challenge courses geared to each developmental level, camping and hiking trips, and other outdoor educational experiences at every level.
“Touchstone is engaging kids as equals—having an intellectual discussion with them, not thinking of them as empty vessels.”
–Jon Grayzel, M.D. Former Parent