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The Thriveway – Good habits. Strong Character.

Your child will thrive as they nurture good habits and cultivate character.

Life is tough.  Your child will need plenty of grit and a strong character to accomplish their goals and thrive in life.  At Skye College we champion good habits.  Habits weave their way through our curriculum, stories, activities and play.  Why?  Because good habits are the vital reservoir of a resilient life that can withstand pressure and bounce back after hardship.  Habits help us manage stress, stay connected, build relationships, learn, grow and succeed…  Good habits develop grit and, over time, build strong character.  Habits set us up to thrive without us even knowing it.

In fact, there are few gifts we can impart to children as valuable as those habits that will lead to long term health, successful relationships and a strong character.

Habits for health

At Skye College we serve healthy home-made meals, enjoyed in a social community setting.  Children learn to enjoy, appreciate and prepare healthy food as a major part of our practical life curriculum. 

Long periods of child-led physical play in natural surroundings are an important part of each day.  Children also benefit from our weekly physical literacy program, including an “unplugged play vocabulary” component – teaching kids those good old-fashioned games they no longer know. 

A variety of extracurricular sport options are available. 

Habits of the mind and soul

At Skye Collage we foster habits of the mind and soul that will lay down the rails for an exceptional, grounded and meaningful life.  Attentiveness, observation, gratitude, orderliness, trust, patience, inquisitiveness, generosity, responsibility, courage, loyalty and wisdom… Good habits today.  Strong character tomorrow.

Relational habits

Our strong focus on developing social- and communication skills lead to positive relational habits, such as reflective listening, suspending judgement and expressing one’s feelings and needs clearly.

These habits, taken together, unlock a lifetime of successful relationships in all spheres of life.

The Thriveway – Connect.

Build strong relationships and foster deep connections

The research is unambiguous… the health of our relationships has a profound effect on our financial wellbeing, health, happiness and success in life.  The ability to form meaningful connections with others, to feel connected to ourselves and to the natural world – these are foundational.

It starts at school.  A positive relationship between student and teacher impacts class participation, self-efficacy, critical thinking and achievement at math and language.  It increases attendance, reduces negative behaviour and leads to better grades.[i]  Peer mentorship has the potential both to help children learn, and to improve their self-esteem.  Friendship impacts every part of life.

At Skye College your child will experience relationship-driven learning in a close-knit community, spend productive time alone and connect with nature.

Connect to others

  • At Skye College children learn both in same-age cohorts and mixed-grade classrooms. Mixed-grade classrooms create opportunities for children to experience mentorship, be mentors and embrace the powerful impact of peer learning.
  • Intentional grace and courtesy curriculum provides children with real-world social skills practice and a peaceful sense of community.
  • An approach to discipline which empowers teachers and students to resolve conflicts and minimize disruptions while restoring relationships and focusing on making amends (restorative justice).
  • Communication skills (based on the famous Non-Violent Communication technique) are intentionally taught to teachers and children.
  • Evidence-based techniques for effective classroom management creates an atmosphere of freedom and peace.

Connect to self

  • An intentional focus on optimising socio-emotional wellness of teachers and children.
  • Innovative classroom design allows children to move freely between collaborative and individual workspaces.
  • Curriculum that balances project-based collaboration and experiential learning with self-paced work.
  • Time, at school, to pursue personal passion, begin to discover individual purpose and hone special talents.

Connect to nature

  • Long, uninterrupted daily time for play and relaxation in spacious and beautiful surroundings.
  • Opportunities to experience and connect with nature… at our “bug hotel” children experience life cycles first-hand.  Our butterfly sanctuary provides a glimpse into the wonder of pollination.  Our birding “forest” provides a chance to identify and study birds.
  • Our teachers co-design lessons with the intention to leave children in awe of nature and her creator. Whether it’s the first glimpse at a feather through a microscope, experiencing the scale of the universe through a video-simulation, marvelling at the design of the cell’s molecular machines or the microcosmos in a drop of sea water – our learning experiences are filled with wonder and awe.
  • Environmental stewardship weaves its way like a golden thread through school practices, lessons and projects.

Connect to the world

  • The globe is more connected than ever, and it is vital that children learn to understand and love the diverse and complex world of their future.
  • We foster a global perspective by exposing children to the stories, peoples and natural wonders of our fascinating planet from a young age. Your child will journey to Antarctica on Shackleton’s fated 1914 voyage, take a walk on the tundra with their Inuit guide and experiencing Beijing through the eyes of a local child – all without leaving the safety and comfort of their beautiful school. 
  • We believe in real world connection. Field trips and school visits are a frequent part of our learning experience. 
  • We connect to the world by contributing to it. Our learners use their knowledge and skills to contribute towards one (or more) of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.  In the process, they learn valuable skills and a global mindset for a future world.
  • Technology fosters global connection and facilitates global citizenship, but is never at the expense of relationship. Because friends are more important than screens.

[i] Cornelius-White, 2008; Roodha, Koomen, Split and Oort, 2001 in Visible Learning Guide to Student Achievement (Hatti, 2020).

The Thriveway – To the summit.

At Skye College your child will thrive as they develop their full potential

People who thrive taste the sweet reward of using their gifts and becoming good at what they do.  They know what they want from life and intentionally set and pursue the goals that will take them, step by step, toward their personal summit.   

Self-paced learning paths and mastery

The one-size-fits-all education offered by most schools do not allow children to learn at their own pace or pursue their own passions.  Such schools stunt a child’s academic development and eventual success. 

When learners move through the curriculum according to an inflexible plan at the average speed of the class, some students develop learning gaps – moving on before they are ready.  Others are “held back” unnecessarily – bored and disengaged. 

At Skye College children progress at their own pace through a Montessori-inspired math and English curriculum.  This self-paced curriculum sets your child up for success at high school math and English by allowing the time and focus needed to develop deep mastery of each step in their learning journey.  

Does that mean children progress more slowly in our classrooms?  On the contrary…  When children are given the tools for independent practice and immediate feedback, along with the freedom to spend the time they need to develop deep mastery and move on when they are ready, they tend to progress more quickly.

Guiding a child towards the development of their full potential is about more than just self-paced learning and mastery, however. 

Growth mindset and high expectations

Good teaching holds high expectations of every child and nurtures a growth mindset.  People with a growth mindset believe (accurately so) that abilities can be developed through hard work and dedication.  Talents and brains are just a starting point. 

It shouldn’t be surprising that the beliefs we hold about learning impact what we do in the classroom.  When teachers hold high expectations, and believe that learning takes time and that all students can learn when provided with the right support, they choose better strategies and persist with struggling students.  When teachers have high expectations and a growth mindset, students are more likely to achieve at high levels.  The same is true for kids.  When a child believes that the effort of doing math is building their brain, regardless of whether they got the answer right this time, they are more likely to persist and master the content. 

When it comes to underlying attitudes and mindsets of teachers and children, it is clear that all are not equally accurate or helpful.  That’s why our Professional Development pays attention to developing the mindsets and attitudes that will equip your child to thrive.  Oh, and by the way, a growth mindset is also promoted by the kind of mastery-based instructional practices you’ll find in our classrooms.[i]

Internal motivation, autonomy and interest

Good teaching further equips your child to develop their full potential by unlocking the power of internal motivation.  External motivation and coercion won’t take your child to their summit …  Learning is optimised when internal motivation is unlocked through appropriate autonomy and by making room for the child’s own interests and talents. 

Children experience a sense of autonomy when they engage in tasks that reflect their personal values and a sense of themselves.  Children do not experience autonomy when they participate in tasks because “the teacher said so.” 

Research links such autonomy to gains in comprehension and higher order learning.  When students are overly controlled, on the other hand, they lose initiative and learn less well, especially when learning is complex and requires conceptual creative processing.[ii] 

At Skye College our teachers provide autonomy supportive instruction and practices (such as helping children figure out how to solve a problem in their own way) and emphasizes self-direction and the pursuit of interests, rather than rewards, punishments or coercion.   

Such an approach is made possible by Skye College’s flexible Cambridge-based curriculum and our innovative approach to Professional Development.  At Skye College, teachers participate in regular professional development sessions.  This learning exposes them to evidence-based strategies for teaching and learning.  Equipped with this information, teachers co-create flexible lessons that are designed to work towards Cambridge curriculum outcomes, develop skills that will equip your child to thrive, and optimize motivation and autonomy by being responsive to the needs and interests of the class.  This is vastly different from traditional cookie-cutter education systems where these vital keys to unlocking potential are largely ignored.

Self-paced learning leads to deep mastery and optimises engagement 

Children work towards mastery (rather than completion) which eliminates learning gaps.  At the same time, they can progress as soon as mastery is achieved – no superficial limit is placed on learning… the classroom and teacher are prepared for anything.  Working at one’s own pace means children work at a “just right” level of difficulty.  Things are neither too easy (boredom) nor too hard (frustration) – they are just right (engagement).

Internal motivation is maximised through personalised learning and appropriate classroom autonomy 

At Skye college children enjoy freedom and support to pursue their interests and develop their unique talents at school.  Internal motivation is maximised through appropriate classroom autonomy.   The interested, motivated child working at an engaging level of difficulty.

Growth mindset 

A growth mindset refers to the belief, supported by insights from neuroscience, that intelligence is not fixed, but can be developed.  When children have a growth mindset they do not view failure as fatal (I’m just stupid), but see it as a step in the learning process (I can’t do that yet, but I’m sure I could).  At Skye College our teacher culture and practices encourage the development of growth mindsets in students.  After all, the road to the summit is steep.  To reach his full potential your child will have to become practiced at getting up and dusting himself off.  Because the right attitude to failure predicts success. 

[1]  Yeager and Dweck, 2012; Blackwell et al, 2007; Yeager, Schneider, Brien and Flint, 2016 in Visible Learning Guide to Student Achievement (Hatti, 2020).

[11] Ryan and Deci (2000). 

Thrive today. Thrive tomorrow.

The Skye College Thriveway is a journey of learning opportunities and interactions that will prepare your child with the competencies, knowledge and habits needed to thrive – today and in the future.

Research driven education to thrive in life

Innovation for the sake of innovation?  Never.  At Skye College we don’t do fads.  We follow real research with a deep commitment to do what works best.  That’s why we comfortably combine hands-on, wooden Montessori Math materials developed in the 50s with computer programmes that determine math-gaps and help kids catch up.  They both work.  They work even better together. 

Our research-based methodology allows us to move beyond commitment to a single approach, or a certain methodology, curriculum or textbook.  Because we have a deep understanding of what works in pedagogy as well as a firm grasp on what it means to thrive, we can craft an education that truly serves the needs of kids today and sets them up for success – not just at a job, but at real life.

When you start with what is proven to work, and you redefine curriculum objectives to no less than success at life, school looks very different. 

Knowledge and competencies that set your child up to thrive

At Skye College, we will equip your child to reach their full potential.  We focus on the knowledge and competencies needed to thrive in the 21st century.  Life and career; information, media and technology literacy; financial and entrepreneurial literacy; creative intelligence; critical thinking – all built on a solid foundation of numeracy and literacy. 

Responsive teaching of co-created curriculum

At Skye College, teachers are guided by, and work towards the outcomes of the *Cambridge curriculum and its exams.  However, curriculum guidance is balanced with flexibility.  Our teachers are actively engaged in co-creating curriculum that is responsive to the needs of the class and are free to incorporate learners’ interests and contexts. 

Teachers also intentionally apply evidence-based strategies that help children learn as they are naturally wired to learn.  In other words, our teachers don’t have just one way of teaching.  Through ongoing professional development, our teachers are equipped to facilitate direct instruction, relationship-driven peer learning, enquiry-based learning, project-based learning, expeditionary learning and more.  Because teachers are equipped with multiple evidence-based strategies, their teaching can be responsive to the needs of the content, task and the class.

*Skye College is in the process of registering as a Cambridge Associate School through our partnership with the GenEx Institute. We are currently awaiting our final site visit. For more information, please visit Cambridge | GenEx Institute.

Concrete, sensorially-rich learning experiences and movement

The research is clear – young children learn best through concrete, sensorially-rich experiences and movement – yet schools continue to fight to keep kids in their seats.

At Skye College Preparatory School level our children learn through hands-on manipulation of expertly designed Montessori manipulatives.  These materials make the abstract world of math and language concrete and easy to understand and master – setting the child up for success by “giving to the hands” what you would “give to the mind” (Maria Montessori).   Practical hands-on projects and experiential learning takes learning off the page – placing it squarely in the real world and firmly in the mind.

Movement is used to unlock learning.  Sometimes movement is quiet and orderly as children respectfully move around, collect and retrieve equipment and quietly collaborate with others.  At other times, movement is more exuberant as we dance, chant and march our way through our work. 

Integrated learning across subjects

At Skye College children experience integrated learning across subjects, as in real life.  This allows children to develop a deep and comprehensive understanding of the world they live in. 

Self-paced individualised learning for deep mastery

At a typical school, the child progresses at the average speed of the class and must achieve very low levels of mastery to be “passed” to the next grade.  The fact that learning is not individualized means that many kids, even if they “pass”, will accumulate learning gaps while other kids will be bored and disengaged. 

At Skye College the emphasis is on truly mastering content, rather than on completing assignments or achieving a passing mark.  This sets the child up for success in high school math and language and helps them develop a love of these important subjects. 

Math and language are sequential subjects, and all children climb the steps of these subjects in order.  However, they do not all climb at the same speed, and they don’t spend the same amount of time on each step. 

Because each child moves through the learning steps at his own pace, no superficial limit to learning exists.  The child may progress as fast and far as he is able – often faster and further than grade level. 

Classes that maximise social and academic learning

 

In a typical school, children have a new teacher and new class each year and mix only with a narrow cohort of children their own age.  This does not prepare children for the complexity and diversity of real-world relationships and provides little opportunity for leadership, mentorship or peer learning – a powerful predictor of student achievement.

 

At Skye College learners are still placed in traditional grades.  However, for a part of the day they follow a self-paced learning journey, focused on math and English, in a mixed-grade classroom.  Mixed-grade classrooms create the perfect environment for children to experience mentorship, develop leadership skills and experience peer learning.  Children spend three years in this same mixed-grade morning classroom, allowing deep relationships to develop with friends and teachers. 

 

During the second part of the day, focused on science and other thrive goals, learning takes place in a same-age cohort.  Children also form part of a larger school community and take part in many activities with other classes, working with other teachers on shared projects.

 

Together, these classroom configurations maximise social and academic learning.

 

Nurturing family connection

 

In a typical school, homework places a significant strain on after school family time even though there is clear evidence that homework has a negligible impact on student achievement at primary school level, with very little impact at higher levels. 

 

At Skye College, homework is mostly unnecessary because class-time is highly efficient and effective.  We understand that after-school time is sacred for families, and so we include parents in their child’s learning journey in a way that enriches, rather than strains, this time.  Does curling up on the coach together with a good book sound nice?  We think so too.

 

Flexible real-world learning

 

In a typical school learning is mostly restricted to a set of square classrooms with few real-world and real-work links.  At Skye College we learn everywhere and anywhere.  Our facilities are flexible and expertly designed to accommodate multiple types of learning experiences.  Through fieldtrips, expeditions, class visits, service trips and workplace internships (high school) we create strong links between our learning experiences and the real world.

Contributing to learn

In a typical school, the child is viewed as a vessel to be filled…  The main focus is on providing learning experiences for the child, with little or no opportunity for the child to learn by contributing.  At Skye College we not only learn to contribute, but we contribute to learn:  Our learners know what it is to be good world citizens and use their knowledge and skills to contribute towards one (or more) of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.  In the process, they learn valuable skills and a vital global perspective for a future world.

Bringing learning to life

In a typical school, content is often presented stripped of the human context and sense of wonder that would make it relevant, interesting and valuable to the child as a human being (dry facts / textbook style instruction).  At Skye College we use multi-media and technology, hands-on experiences and living books to bring the wonders of our natural and human world to life.  From the microscopic to the macroscopic – we love to leave kids awed.

 

A focus on feedback for mastery, rather than assessment

At Skye College we understand the power of effective feedback.  Feedback from student to teacher keeps lessons appropriately challenging and helps the teacher to adjust her teaching now and improve her teaching over time.  Feedback from teacher to student, including assessments, are always focused on achieving deep mastery and application.  Tests and exams, as well as the Cambridge Curriculum exams, are still used within the context of mastery in order to benchmark results against international standards.  But in addition to these tests and exams, ongoing multi-method assessments adds value to the learning process by providing the kind of immediate “just now – just for me” feedback that kids need to learn optimally.

The Thriveway difference

Education is in crisis, and the statistics are disturbing. 

  • Only 36 % of teachers think that school prepares learners to make a positive impact on society (87% wishes it did). 
  • 66% of millennials believe that they don’t have the knowledge and competencies needed to thrive in the modern economy.
  • 66% of parents are worried that their child won’t find a job.
  • 46% of parents are worried that their child is unhappy. 

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