At Mustard Seed School, we teach the whole child: intellectual, physical, social, emotional and spiritual. We do this through a hands-on, experiential education and a unique integration of strong academics, arts, faith and service. Students learn a core knowledge base and develop essential life skills.
Visit the Kindergarten during morning work periods and you might see a small group working with a teacher on writing skills, another student making observations about seeds that the class collected on the Hudson Hike, and two students working together to sort and count baby food that they have collected for a local food pantry: a combined math and service lesson. Still others work in the Shared Space, a hands-on extension of the classroom. Two students pair up with two first graders to dramatize the recent hike to reflect upon their learning. A teacher guides a student in the technical skills that he needs to mold clay sculpture that includes found objects from the Hike. Many of these activities build upon the science study of seeds and plants. The activities are vibrant and alive, ripe with learning. The children are calm, intent and purposeful in their work.
Continue through the school and you will see a similar setting in each classroom: students engaged in project work, small groups working peacefully together and with teachers, children confident in giving voice to their ideas but also able to listen and give space for others, creativity unleashed and active, deep learning. The work increases in complexity throughout the grades, always building upon the work of the year before.
Some classrooms may be empty because a class has gone into the field to go “deep and wide” with a learning experience. Urban children need to experience the richness and diversity of their city first hand as well as connect with the natural world. At Mustard Seed, field trips are an essential part of the education and tie directly to thematic study.
Mustard Seed’s educational philosophy defies categorization. The school draws upon the best practices of different educational sources including the beliefs and practices of Jean Piaget (Constructivist Education), John Dewey (Progressive Education), Theodore Sizer (Coalition of Essential Schools), Howard Gardner (Multiple Intelligences), Loris Malaguzzi (Reggio Emilia), Nicholas Wolterstorff (Christian Education), and Steven Vryhof (Christian Education, 12 Affirmations.) We value professional development for faculty and staff. This affirms our staff as lifelong learners and keeps teaching methods up to date as we seek to learn about and practice the best ways to engage children with the curriculum.
There are many components to our pedagogy that make it successful. Below are a few highlights. You will see more about these in the Curriculum section of the website and on the pages for the different classes.
- Mastery of Academic Skills
- Integrated Thematic Learning
- Music and Art at the Core
- Beyond the Classroom
- Social Curriculum
- Faith and Learning