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The child is the active agent in their own learning. 

As children get older, most schools emphasize the body of knowledge to be transmitted rather than the student’s process of discovery. At Peregrine School, young children propel their own learning through play. As they get older, project based learning enables students to explore curricula in the disciplines in active and personal ways.

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Group work with expert teachers

Project Zero, the largest research project on creativity ever sustained (it has been going on for thirty years led by Howard Gardner and his team at Harvard), spent five years studying the schools of Reggio Emilia. In Making Learning Visible, his team concluded that the best way to inspire creative thinking is through a responsive, expert teacher working with a small group of students to explore challenges which the students find meaningful. Peregrine School has been inspired by this model, which is our central teaching method at all levels.

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Small Teacher to Student Ratios

Young children rely on their teachers for emotional support; as they grow, these teachers become important mentors in their quest to find their personal interests and passions. Peregrine School is committed to small groups of students working with a teacher. Larger classrooms have teams of teachers, who separate children into temporary learning groups which ensure attention
for each child.

In academic disciplines like science, our rule of thumb is that the student experience what a person working in the field would do, rather than simply read about discoveries second-hand. Even preschoolers conduct investigations, discuss and record results, and generate theories. In history, we investigate, question, do research, and construct and defend interpretations. In math, we behave as mathematicians, discovering and discussing various ways to solve problems, learning algorithms after concepts are fully understood. And in language arts, we write, edit, peer edit, and finally, publish books of our writing, and sometimes present our work to a larger community. And at all levels, children express their thoughts through art which is taken seriously,
discussed, and displayed.


“Play” as an aspect of learning at all levels

All Peregrine preschool programs are play-based, meaning that students are able to choose their activities during a major part of the day.In elementary school, students are still given choices as often as possible—sometimes of topic, of research project, of group or individual work, or of learning pace and style.


Learning is embedded in community values

Unlike some educational approaches, no two Reggio schools are the same. Reggio-inspired education is tailored to match each community, because it is invented by teachers in response to children’s desires and needs. In Northern Italy, where Reggio started, visual art is the central organizer of the curriculum because art has been the central interest of that community since the Renaissance.

In our Central Valley, science and agriculture are major forces. These, added to the arts (a universal in all Reggio schools), have become the central organizers of our Early Childhood Centers because they reflect community priorities. At the elementary level, we hire a “scientist” specialist to teach science, and artists for art and music, because we believe in learning from experts. The exciting thing about Reggio schools is that they evolve with their communities, and are ever changing. As our communities change, we change too.

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Learning as Social

The strength of portfolios is that each child’s progress is measured against his/her own development. Yet in assessment, as in all things, we seek balance. We also measure students’ success against grade level standards and developmental benchmarks, so that parents have a realistic idea of their child’s progress.


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