It begins with children as young as 3 years old, building from there year upon year, nurturing the flame of intellectual curiosity, the warmth of community, and the wonder of the world around each child. It seems like we blink and then they are 8th graders, preparing to graduate to high schools as confident and creative learners, ethical leaders, and compassionate individuals.
There is much, so much that happens in between the early years of the Nursery program and the 8th grade. Peninsula’s progressive ideals of play, choice and responsibility, engaging in intellectual inquiry, and building relationships inhabit every nook and cranny of the days on our inspiring campus.
The excitement for learning, for growing and for living in a community begins in the nursery program for 3 and 4 year olds. The nursery program at Peninsula School provides a loving, trusting, and respectful environment. It is socially and physically a friendly, stimulating community in which children are supported and encouraged to make choices, resolve conflicts productively, respect their own feelings and those of others, feel loved, and be loving.
Essential elements of the Nursery program continue in the “transitional” Kindergarten for 5 year old children — the ability to express oneself, to make personal decisions, play, and how to be part of a community. The year begins as a half-day program and moves to full day in January. Children are more active participants in classroom responsibilities and are exposed in a natural manner to academic interests such as literacy, math and science.
Children in the primary grades enter a stage of life brimming with wonder, awe, curiosity and energy. At Peninsula, children generally ages 5–9 are grouped in classrooms depending on social, emotional and cognitive development where they begin to exercise more independence and make choices within a more sophisticated framework of available activities. They can now choose activities of interest to them outside the classroom, such as science in a lab, math in the math room, art, library, woodshop, clay, weaving, and music in their respective studios.
In addition to abundant active free play in our beautiful campus, physical education on the playing fields or in the indoor playspace is provided. The first overnights are held, children take responsibility for work jobs in the broader school community, and daily class meetings become even more important.
Academically, the greatest emphasis is on gaining skills in reading, writing, and math to serve as a vehicle for furthering intellectual curiosity and independence, cognitive flexibility, social and cultural fluency, collaborative inquiry, precision of thought and persistence. Hence, for example, the youngest children learn to read, while older primary students read to learn.
Our integrated curriculum allows children to learn and develop skills through a variety of approaches, allowing them to naturally construct meaning. In this way, learning becomes a part of them, fostering deep understanding, and connecting them to the world.
Early adolescents are in an exciting time of life, filled with incredible leaps in cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. At Peninsula, our upper school program is designed to take advantage of the adolescent need for voice, autonomy, questioning, rationalizing and social interactions.
In the Upper School, students take significantly more responsibility for their own intellectual development. Children learn to set goals, meet deadlines, and evaluate results. Further involvement in meaningful academic experiences, materials, and concepts are focused on building life skills crucial to engaging with and participating in areas of study both in school and beyond.
Through a non-graded and non-competitive academic program, students focus on self-evaluation and self-improvement, which forces them to assume more authorship of their own learning and provides them with the confidence to take academic risks and have an impact on the larger world.
Students exercise more responsibility over community decisions, exploring and learning about the challenging and nuanced work of the democratic process, negotiation, and building consensus. Overnight camping in the fall and spring are important components of the curriculum. Physical education continues in the upper school where students create their own games and rules. Students choose each day to attend art, science activity, clay, woodshop, weaving, art, and rock band. “Choice”, general interest classes created and offered by staff, are a highlight of the year.
"I like that it is like family and we are
all close, and that I know I can talk to my teachers personally, even when it is uncomfortable, because of that respect."
—6th grader (age 12)