Our elementary program is built on a foundation of progressive educational principles, research-based methods and skills that foster community and connection. Beginning in Kindergarten (our Unicorn class), Crestmont students develop a love for learning and school, while also continuing to relish in their imagination and play. They learn the importance of listening to their peers and their teachers, while also gaining confidence and skills to assert their needs, communicate their ideas and forge lasting friendships. The Unicorns’ math experience is playful and play based. Through games and explorations, they learn to sort and compare, count and use numbers. Kindergarten students learn literacy skills in centers that grow their listening, writing and reading skills. They become storytellers, both orally and in writing. They also experience morning dance parties, regular time to explore outdoors, “choosing time” that incorporates play-based activities, and even put on their own play at the end of the year – all while learning new skills and building their social-emotional toolset.
After Kindergarten, Crestmont elementary classes are multiage: Pegasus classes are comprised of first and second graders; Griffins classes are comprised of third and fourth graders. Middle School is comprised of a Fifth/Sixth grade class and a Seventh/Eighth grade class Fifth and sixth graders join the middle schoolers. The mixed-age grouping provides these students with access to a broader range of activities to align with their skillsets, as well as the opportunity to form relationships with peers of a broader age range. Because of the intimate size of each class (typically 14-16 students) teachers and teacher aides are able to tailor activities to students’ individual abilities, ensuring that students are met where they are at while also being challenged and engaged.
Visit the classrooms and you will see low student-to-teacher ratios; project-based and hands-on learning; integrated thematic instruction; relevant and meaningful tasks that are challenging, authentic and multi-disciplinary; curriculum differentiation including supporting different learning styles; ongoing authentic assessment and emergent curriculum.
A Crestmont elementary student may be found learning phonics and sight words by engaging in games such as a reading skills obstacle course; working with Urban Tilth to grow produce for low cost CSA produce boxes; applying math skills in area and perimeter by creating plans for a house; developing writing skills by writing to organizations advocating for farm workers’ rights; designing a way to survive on another planet and creating a mural for the Crestmont community.
Our elementary teachers create a safe, supportive and inclusive community that allows our students to grow academically and socially. Helping children acquire social skills is a fundamental part of primary education and a cornerstone of Crestmont’s philosophy. We consider positive social interaction and conflict resolution to be subjects as important as math and reading. While we intentionally teach conflict resolution skills and nonviolent communication, we also take the time needed to address issues as they arise. With steady guidance, the children develop a strong sense of empathy and the skills to get along with a variety of people. This helps children to experience a sense of belonging. It is also critical for the development of a safe and trusting community, which is essential for learning.
Crestmont understands that kindergarten is a big transition for students and their families alike, and the school provides extra support during this time. Prior to the start of the school year, our kindergarten teacher schedules home visits for each incoming kindergartner. She spends time with each child at their home so that when the children enter their first day at the school, they have already had a personal connection and are familiar with their teacher. Kindergarten families are welcomed at a new families’ play date after admission and encouraged to hold play dates with new classmates over the summer. Later in the summer, a class picnic is held for each grade just before the school year begins.