The Power of a Strong Sentence

We understand that the child is at the center of the learning process.

It is a succinct sentence that defines our purpose at Kent School. These words, in part describe how we live our mission each day. Our mission statement tells the outside world what our purpose is. The way we live our mission is the effect we have on each student every day.

We understand that the child is at the center of the learning process.

The words, deliberately chosen, illustrate our approach to the way we teach and learn at Kent School. “We” means every member of our employee group shares a belief in our work on behalf of our students. The choice for the word “child” reflects our understanding that Kent School students are children first which helps us create and maintain our joyful learning environment. Stating that the child is at the “center” of what we do means that their success is our ultimate goal. We are driven to do what is best for each child in the room. The phrase “learning process” demonstrates our belief that learning is a process. On a macro level we are moving children forward in their learning but it is a process. There may be speed bumps in the process but in the end those challenges only serve to strengthen the child’s learning.

In practice, we see so many examples of Kent School teachers putting the child at the center of the learning process. Drop in to the First Grade classroom and see Mrs. Plummer’s flexible seating arrangements that enables each child to engage in his or her work where they are most comfortable. Ask Mrs. Plummer, or better yet, ask one of her First Grade students about selecting a “good fit” book from their classroom library.  The children are choosing what they want to read rather than what Mrs. Plummer says they must read. That is child centered, not teacher centered.

Our teachers’ willingness to be flexible and collaborate enable our child centered approach. Just recently, Mrs. Kent wondered if our three year old students might benefit from having Physical Education class separately from our four year old students. She tried it and what a difference she saw. Our three year olds were more active, engaged and just having more fun. As a result, Mrs. Kent adjusted her schedule, adding another class period so three year old children and four year old children can have Physical  Ed. separately. That is child centered, certainly not teacher centered.

Examples of a child centered teaching approach are plentiful in Middle School. In Math for example, students are given frequent opportunities to reassess their understanding and mastery of concepts. Why would we simply give a test and accept a moderate (or worse) grade and move on to the next unit. Clearly that student has not mastered the material. Our goal is mastery not unit completion. Another compelling example of our student centered approach is our teachers’ and advisers’ commitment to work with and on behalf of each Eighth Grade student in their high school application process. Our teachers take the extra step of providing three letters of recommendation rather than the typical requirement of two. They work as a team to provide these Eighth Grade students with the tools to succeed in secondary school.

Throughout our students’ elementary and middle school years, our teachers and staff members are committed to true and thorough success for each student. True and thorough success looks different from child to child. We measure success through academic achievement, social well-being, the ability to self-advocate and successful navigation of the “learning process.”  Our students can find success in artistic opportunities and athletic opportunities. There are opportunities to speak persuasively and write creatively. Surely there are tests, quizzes, homework assignments and yes, speed bumps along the way. And through it all, we understand that the child is at the center of the learning process.