Children at The Oakville Academy for the Arts are seen as competent and capable learners who are able to co-construct their learning alongside their attentive educators. Children are valued members of a vibrant learning community and they will be encouraged to find and voice their unique gifts in a supportive and respectful environment. Our goal is to nurture independent and creative thinkers, enthusiastic life-long learners, active explorers and compassionate and respectful human beings.
The content of our learning is chosen based on teachers’ observations of children’s play and language and are often connected to something with which the children have already had experience. Our program is child-centered and lead and child’s interests become deep learning projects which involve hands-on investigation, finding the answers to questions, reading about a topic, visiting sites or places, talking to other people who know about the topic and representing learning through a variety of media. Projects can last a long time (months), a couple of weeks or a morning, depending on the interest and the potential within the topic itself. No two years of the program are the same as they are shaped by the children and the areas of study that develop naturally and holistically. Emergent programs are not only more engaging for young learners but have been shown to develop social emotional, cognitive, literacy, problem solving and motor skills. Through collaboration, inquiry and expression children develop in all areas.
Our teachers provide resource-rich, investigative environments to encourage student learning and experimentation. As children investigate, they begin to formulate questions. Their teachers model how to ask good questions to stimulate critical thinking and help students learn to differentiate between information that is important and that which is not. Teachers do not “jump in” and provide children with the answers to their questions; the students form their own theories and work through them to form deeper understanding. They research to gather the information they require to test their hypotheses. During this process, young learners make powerful connections between what they already know and new information. We guide children through the cycle of learning from the very first spark of interest to becoming an expert!
Teachers and children collect evidence of learning through the use of written anecdotes, transcripts of conversations, artwork and photographs, and together document our learning. The documented information is used to show student’s understanding and growth, as a catalyst for future investigations and as a tool for developing self-reflection and planning skills.
Within our classrooms, teachers have exciting and daily opportunities to integrate curriculum. Activities that are meaningful and relevant to a child’s life experiences provide intrinsic motivation and allow for teachers to teach across the curriculum and assist their students in seeing the interrelationships of the things they are learning. At our school, students are offered the exclusive opportunity to marry a stimulating, enriching and absorbing classroom experience with dance, music and the visual arts. The classroom itself becomes a studio workshop – offering an abundant array of art media, recycled found objects and a host of captivating natural materials.
We believe children learn best when they are engaged and at the center of their learning. Intrinsic motivation, resilience, collaboration, creative and critical thinking are all skills that are needed in today’s world – each of these skills are developed when children are deeply engaged in the process of learning. Engaged learners find excitement and pleasure in learning. They possess a lifelong passion for solving problems and understanding ideas and concepts. Engaged learners understand that learning is social. They are able to see themselves and ideas as others see them, can articulate their own ideas to others, have empathy for others, and are fair-minded in dealing with contradictory or conflicting views. They have the ability to identify the strengths and intelligences within themselves and others.
Within our very special programs there is an emphasis on finding personal and meaningful ways to make curriculum areas come alive! We seek to develop in students and ourselves valuable habits of mind and dispositions such as critical, creative and divergent thinking, inquiry, research and problem solving; skills that will put our young learners in the best possible position as they arrive upon the doorstep of future academic experience.
Each week children at The Oakville Academy for the Arts have the unique opportunity to explore the arts with highly educated specialists in Visual Arts, Creative Dance and Music as well as in their teacher led and self-initiated activities woven throughout the program.
Classroom projects and areas of interest will be enhanced with visual arts throughout all programs. Children will learn about colour, texture, form and technique while being able to create their own unique works of art as part of their process of learning. The Oakville Academy School for the Arts programs offer a lovely balance between teacher-guided art experiences and self-chosen, independent opportunities to explore paint, paper, sculpting media, drawing tools and found materials. At The Oakville Academy School for the Arts we view the graphic arts as another language – a language through which young children can concretely represent their ideas, beliefs and burgeoning awareness of themselves and the world in which they live. We celebrate the process of making art and value exploration, creative problem-solving and experimentation!
The imagination is an invaluable tool. Our dance specialists will bring each child on a journey through dance using music, imagination and movement to create a variety of age appropriate and dynamic dance experiences. Children will explore the possibilities of what their bodies can do and how it can serve as a magical vehicle for self-expression! Incorporating The Royal Academy of Dance Pre-Primary Syllabus as well as foundational music and movement concepts, children will be introduced to proper posture, basic dance technique and a variety of fun and exciting dance opportunities.
At The Oakville School for the Arts we view music as “a way of knowing”. According to Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner, music intelligence is equal in importance to logical – mathematical intelligence, linguistic intelligence, spatial intelligence, bodily – kinesthetic intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, and intrapersonal intelligence. Making music is as much a basic life skill as walking or talking! Like Hungarian music educator and philosopher, Zoltan Kodaly, we believe it is a birthright for all people to be able to sing in tune, march to a beat and be able to experience the expressive capabilities inherent to music. Students will sensorially explore music through instrumental activities, listening and singing activities as well as through creative musical movement.