With a balanced approach to curriculum, Kazoo School teaches the whole child. Students develop academic, social-emotional, and physical skills through a program of studies that is active, responsive, and challenging.
Skills vs. Content
One important aspect of the Kazoo School curriculum is how we distinguish skills from content.
Skills are things like multiplication facts, appropriate use of commas, and following the scientific method. Teachers closely monitor students’ progress in relation to developmental benchmarks, while carefully differentiating according to individual needs.
Kazoo School teachers draw on national standards such as the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Math, the Next Generation Science Standards, and the National Council for the Social Studies National Standards, as they make decisions about what skills to teach at different ages. As an independent school, Kazoo is able to use these documents as guidelines rather than mandates. Teachers’ decisions are informed not only by national standards, but also by their knowledge of child development and the unique needs of their students.
Content includes broad topics such as the solar system, the colonization of North America, or the plants and animals of a Michigan forest. These topics often integrate multiple traditional disciplines (e.g., science and social studies). Unlike skills, which are fairly set for each grade, content may (and, in fact should) change from year to year. Content is responsive to student interests and current events.
Kazoo School teachers enact a curriculum that is emergent, integrated, and experiential. These guiding principles draw on the observations that children are most motivated and learn best when they are already interested in something (hence allowing curriculum to emerge from their interests), when they see it as meaningful (thus not isolating subjects but integrating them in a meaningful way), and when they are actively engaged and experiencing their world.
In addition to content and skills, the Kazoo School curriculum also emphasizes developing certain dispositions. Among these are a disposition toward serving others and caring for our planet, a disposition toward curiosity about the world, and a disposition toward perseverance in the face of difficulties. Dispositions are developed throughout students’ experience at Kazoo, not in a specific grade or class.