Children are individuals.

Their personalities, learning styles, preferences, strengths, past experiences, interests, growth rates, and levels of independence and initiative vary widely. We respect these differences and determine individual measures of academic success based on each child’s capacities.

An optimal learning environment is nurturing and challenging.

We believe our students are highly capable. Our teachers pay careful attention to helping students take charge of their own learning so that they feel safe to take risks, set goals, reflect upon their learning, assess their own progress, and recognize their accomplishments. Throughout the school year, students engage in a variety of community-building activities that help them feel welcome and comfortable in the classroom.

Learning is most effective when information and concepts are integrated under themes or questions that are meaningful and relevant to students’ lives.

Because they are curious about the world and increasingly concerned with their place in it, students thrive when they are involved with activities and problem-solving experiences that make a difference in their school, their community, and the world. Activities that arise from students’ questions are highly relevant to them and motivate deep engagement. An integrated, thematic curriculum gives children the continuity, order, choice, and challenge they need to stay engaged in their work. 

People learn best by doing, by becoming active participants in the learning process.

Breakwater is a place for wide-ranging exploration. As students discover more about their own aptitudes and abilities, they develop interests that can become lifelong. Active learning encourages creative thinking, self-expression, and the confidence to develop and experiment with skills. We nurture children to become self-directed, lifelong learners and risk-takers, who view mistakes as learning opportunities.

Everyone has a different learning style.

We strive to make our lessons and classroom activities accessible to all types of learners (linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist).

Learning is both an individual and a social process.

Although we all learn on our own, the things we’ve learned become truly valuable by the ways in which we share them with others. We provide daily opportunities for students to work individually, with partners, in small groups, and with the whole class. We also look for opportunities to share what we’ve learned with our school community and our local communities.

Children's concept development moves in a predictable pattern from concrete to representational to abstract.

While cognitive growth occurs in this predictable sequence, learning style and pace may vary, and children often move back and forth between stages. Therefore, we begin new learning with concrete experiences that help children develop mental images from which they can construct symbols, or representations. Once students internalize these representations, they can begin to think and reason abstractly.

Language is an integral part of concept development.

Learning activities are not always quiet! We encourage children to explore and express ideas, theories, problems, triumphs, and questions. Our focus is on appropriate conversation, well-expressed reasoning, and concise, open-ended questioning.