Our Process and Curriculum
The Four Winds' curriculum provides a balance between focused training in basic academic skills and the freedom for students to explore their own interests.
Upon a student's entry, the instructors evaluate the student in all areas of basic studies. Teacher and student work together to design an individualized academic program based on these evaluations and the student's learning style. This individualized program is organized and effected through the use of the biweekly.
Every two weeks, students meet with their instructor to draw up a set of goals in each subject area. At the end of this period students assess their progress over the two weeks completed and set goals for the next biweekly.
During each biweekly, students are free to choose what to work on at any given time, but are responsible for the completion of all the work by the end of the biweekly. This structure allows students considerable freedom to determine the use of their time while providing a structure and supervision that ensures students successfully meet their goals for each biweekly study period. Students learn the invaluable skills of time and task allocation.
In addition, the completed biweekly form provides students and their families with a progress report every two weeks.
Structure of the Day
MORNINGS: Mornings are given exclusively to work in Basic Studies.
Each day begins with a poem. Students also write daily. Many work on stories over the course of weeks. After working silently in a comfortable spot, students and teachers come together to share their stories and poems. Though students are never required to read aloud, most choose to share. The group observes a few basic rules to assure that writers feel comfortable and respected. Writers get useful and supportive feedback and find that listening to their peers is as engaging as writing their own stories.
Four Winds uses the Wordly Wise series to challenge and expand students' vocabularies.
Latin is a powerful tool for teaching the mechanics and structure of language. To that end, all students take Latin at Four Winds. The study of Latin prepares students for more rapid progress in learning "living" languages and strengthens understanding of our native tongue.
Arrangements can be made for those students who have already begun the study of a foreign language and would like to continue those studies.
Working in the Hake/ Saxon Incremental Math series, students practice math as a larger discipline rather than a series of discrete skills. From the evaluation each student is placed in a math program suited to his or her level of achievement. Math lessons incorporate drills with math facts and problem solving, as well as a continual review of previously learned concepts.
At Four Winds, students are always reading. All students read assigned books that relate to the year's theme. In addition, students also select books that reflect their own interests.
AFTERNOONS: Work in the afternoon is pencil and textbook free. This is the time we focus on our work in Humanities and Sciences.
The school runs a three-year cycle of themes: 20th Century America, Pre-colonial and Colonial Massachusetts, and The Development of Human Civilization. These themes direct the topics examined in Humanities and Sciences and inform the choice of literature.
Students participate in weekly science labs and are expected to turn in lab reports. The school also has a three-year cycle of science topics: Physical Science, Earth Science, and Life Science.
Afternoons are frequently spent out of the classroom building. The school travels to visit people, places, events, exhibits, and demonstrations that have a bearing on the studies of the moment.
The size and schedule of Four Winds enables the school to see and experience things that most school programs are neither flexible nor mobile enough to undertake. We also take advantage of the research libraries at our local public and private institutions of higher learning.
It is a tenet of Four Winds' philosophy that a child's own curiosity is the most powerful and effective force in a student's intellectual development. Themes in Humanities and Sciences are designed to excite students' interest in potential topics for individual Interest Study projects.
Interest Studies hone skills in research, writing, and communicating.
Work in the afternoon results in students taking on a project, a paper, or demonstration that is shared with classmates and others. However, in keeping with the school's philosophy that a student's best teacher is their own curiosity, students are encouraged to pursue any topic that captures their imagination.