Thank you for your interest in Awakening Seed School. Choosing a school for your young child is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a parent. Many factors influence this decision, including:
- school philosophy
- child’s personality/temperament
- services offered
- school’s reputation
- recommendations of friends and colleagues
In addition to educating children, Awakening Seed is dedicated to supporting parents in all aspects of your role as your child’s first teacher. The following resources are included to help with your decision making process.
What to Expect on Your Tour of Awakening Seed School
Parents interested in sending a child to Awakening Seed are invited to attend a tour of the school prior to enrollment. Here’s what you can expect from the tour:
- tours are given by the executive director and/or the resource coordinator
- families are scheduled in small groups
- the tour is from 9 to approximately 10:30 A. M.
- visitors will see the entire facility, including the outdoor environment and all classrooms
- parents are asked NOT to bring children for the preliminary tour, except for infants in a carrier or stroller
- emergent curriculum will be explained and there will be a Q&A session as part of the tour
- parents with more specific questions may be asked to schedule additional time beyond the general tour
The Emergent Curriculum
What Is An Emergent Curriculum?
An emergent curriculum is an organic approach to learning that incorporates the interests and passions of children, their teachers, and relevant issues or current events. It is used widely in early childhood settings, is well researched, and keeps learning alive, interesting, and meaningful. At the Seed, as in other schools, the emergent curriculum is aligned with the Early Learning Standards, NAEYC standards, and the Arizona K-12 Academic Standards.
Why We Use an Emergent Curriculum
Awakening Seed uses an emergent curriculum model because we believe it offers children and teachers the most autonomy as learners. Using an emergent curriculum keeps learning fresh, lively and directly connected to the group of students involved. It is local and tailored to meet the educational needs of a specific classroom. The emergent curriculum empowers learners to follow their passions. It enables the teachers and students to study topics that stimulate curiosity and wonder.
Characteristics of an Emergent Curriculum
- Children and teachers construct meaning from self-selected topics
- Process is dynamic and explores knowledge through dialogue and active learning
- Inquiry-based curriculum shows learners how life is interconnected
- Subjects are integrated and infused with meaning that often exceeds what is normally expected of young children
- Motivates students to be life-long learners
Examples of the Seed’s Emergent Curriculum In Action
The toddler curriculum is centered on play, through which children explore with their bodies, the environment, and learn to relate to their peers. Play is both child-directed and teacher-directed. During self-directed play, teachers ask open-ended questions and give language to children’s actions and emotions. During teacher-directed activities, ideas are focused around small studies, generally motivated by literature with familiar or interesting themes. For example, during an unusually rainy week, toddlers are invited to explore playground puddles. Some explore with their whole bodies. They touch the water and mud. Teachers suggest they look at the clouds, and set up a sensory art project around the cloud theme. They feel the wind and their teachers use a fan to simulate the experience of wind inside their classroom. A collection of weather-related books is shared and available to the children during the week. The class makes a large mural of weather elements, using paper created during art projects.
Early in the school year, PreK students showed interest in blood and other bodily substances. This interest continued and then the teacher decided to embrace it by organizing a study of the human body. Each child’s body was traced on paper and the various systems were added as they were studied. The class studied the respiratory, circulatory, and neurological systems, using taped pathways on the carpeting and small toys to bring each system to life. The digestive system was the final process studied and the whole study culminated in a large event called Magic Body World. The kids and teachers set up the entire classroom as a body amusement park, with crawl through lungs, giant heart chambers, and a full-on digestive system with a stomach, esophagus, and intestines. It was an event that brought great enthusiasm for human anatomy to the entire school.
At the beginning of the year the class held a discussion about kindness. They read the book Kindness is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler, a story about a teacher who helps her children learn about being kind by doing acts of kindness at home. The class decided to try this and, when they returned to school, wrote their acts on paper hearts in the hallway. Their acts of kindness expanded into a project where children documented what they did through writing and photographs. Eventually the whole project was organized into a video which was shown to parents and others during an open house event. Discussions followed throughout the year and the experience was a reference point for further studies in mindfulness and kindness.
For more information about the emergent curriculum:
Why Choose the Seed?
Here are many of the wonderful reasons to choose Awakening Seed:
- emphasis on social justice and global citizenship, with focus on kindness and compassion
- awareness and implementation of sustainability practices
- opportunities for students to become highly motivated, self-directed experts in areas of interest
- low student to teacher ratios (4:1 to 10:1, based on age of students)
- accommodations made for individual learners
- accountability using a variety of regular assessment practices
- frequent, open communications with parents
- dedicated, highly qualified staff
- supportive and inclusive school community, including grandparents
- four-acre playground with outdoor classrooms and gardens
- diverse, inclusive multicultural learning environment
- multi-age pairing for reading and other learning activities
- conscious support of social-emotional development
- continuous innovative education since 1977
- annual school-wide nutrition study and seedfood website to promote healthy nutrition (www.seedfood.awakeningseedschool.org)
- community service projects and partnership with NAU/SMCC for pre-service teacher training
- play-based learning opportunities
How Successful Are Seed Students When They Leave the Seed?
We’re often asked how our students do once they leave the Seed. Please check out the alumni section of our website to read some of our alumni bios http://www.awakeningseedschool.org/alumni-connection/. For a more detailed description, check out our ethnographic study called Quietly Changing the Planet http://www.awakeningseedschool.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/quietly_changing_seed.pdf.
Our alumni have graduated from universities all over the United States as well as international schools. They range from Arizona universities such as ASU, U of A, and NAU, to small liberal arts colleges like Williams, Swarthmore, and Sarah Lawrence, to PAC-10 universities such as Stanford, USC, and UC-Berkley, or Ivy League schools like Yale, Columbia Princeton, and Dartmouth. Many Seed alums have earned or are in the process of earning graduate degrees in medicine, law, chemistry, neuroscience, music, visual arts, and a variety of other fields.
K-4 at the Seed
“This is our 9th year at the Seed. Our son started when he was 2 and a half and just graduated 4th grade last June, and our daughter has been going since the day she turned one, and is now 5. I am so glad we chose to keep our son at the Seed through the 4th grade, as the skills he gained from being there longer will last a lifetime! And he has been doing fine with the transition to a new school, having been fully prepared throughout 4th grade for the transition! I would recommend this school to any family looking for an education that goes beyond the intellectual and focuses on creating whole beings who care about each other, our communities and our planet.” –Allie Bones, Seed parent
Once a student reaches school age, a wider range of choices is available. Most elementary school options are free and the decision to continue with private education is significant. Our K-4 program prepares students for the long run, to be well-rounded, responsible planetary citizens. Additionally, some of the qualities, such as leadership, take time to develop and often show up years after a child has left the Seed.
Here’s what the Seed K-4 program offers:
- emphasis on community building, social justice, and global citizenship
- interdisciplinary content studies that make accommodations for individual learners, allowing students to become experts in areas of interest
- rigorous education with a focus on creativity and innovation, including STEAM curriculum (science, technology, engineering, art, math)
- motivated, self-directed learners taught by highly dedicated staff in small classes (1:10 ratio, class size 20 students max)
- assessment practices that include student portfolios, progress reports, weekly quizzes, anecdotal observations, self-reflections
- participation in community service projects with an emphasis on kindness, compassion, and leadership training
- active engagement with the natural environment, promoting scientific inquiry, gardening, sustainability practices, and planetary stewardship
- involvement in a supportive school community that fosters inclusion and celebration of diversity
- frequent open communications with parents through weekly blog, school website, individual messages, and parent updates
- safe environment in which to practice navigating social-emotional situations, such as peer pressure, bullying, making choices, speaking up, with guidance from caring, empathetic teachers
- readiness for future school experiences, including academic and social-emotional