You Should Expect More Than a Well-Constructed Writing Assignment from Your Kindergartner

By Stephie Meadows, Kindergarten Teacher at The Langley School

Writer’s Workshop publishing parties are among the most exciting milestones for our kindergartners. Our classrooms buzz with excitement as students eagerly await their turn to wiggle onto the share stool and proudly present their published book to the class. The writing they share has been carefully selected after weeks of brainstorming, peer editing, re-reading, and “fancying up” for this anticipated event. Our kindergartners are guided through the true writing process and learn to successfully plan, edit, and prepare an original piece of work that is then bound into their very own book.

I’m always struck by the growth I see from one publishing celebration to the next. Students begin the year sharing a simple story with scarce letters on a page and transform within just a few short months into confident, capable authors. Our end-of-the-year party reveals five- and six-page “how-to” manuals that students have thoughtfully constructed to serve as a teaching guide for their friends. Students listen carefully as their classmates’ books teach topics such as how to make a pizza or how to be a sneaky little brother. These stories elicit many oohs, ahhs, and laughs from teachers and peers alike. Continue reading

The Colors of Me and My Friendships

by Paige Dunn, Art Teacher at The Langley School

As anyone with a Langley Primary Schooler knows, our youngest students take part in a month-long spiral unit each winter which features a theme that’s integrated into every subject area, including art. This year’s theme – the literature of Leo Lionni – provided a great opportunity for me to help our kindergarten art students discover themselves and their friendships through color.

After reading Mr. Lionni’s book, “Little Blue and Little Yellow” – which illustrates the relationship between blue and yellow and how their friendship creates a new color, green – we explored color theory and how the colors of the color wheel are organized. Students were asked essential questions such as: Why do artists use the color wheel? Why is color important?

The Langley School

Each student was given one color, which represented him or her. The class explored and experimented with various brushstrokes as they filled their papers, creating their own identity. Next, students paired with a friend and mixed their two colors to create their own unique friendship color.

Through this process, students learned how color has a deeper meaning than just what it looks like on paper – how it can represent your character and your relationship with others. As we discussed how colors create certain moods and feelings when we see them in art, the students identified their own moods and feelings when creating their identity colors.

Our kindergarten artists also learned how to work respectfully with one another as they explored blending their colors to create their friendship colors. Students beautifully worked through challenges that arose during the process as well. For example, when two students created a brown tone when mixing their identity colors, they were surprised because it was not a color on the color wheel. Their surprise quickly transformed into pure joy, however, as they created what they soon realized was an original color symbolizing their original friendship!

Students truly enjoyed illuminating their friendships with their classmates by exploring color. At the end of each class, the group had the opportunity to reflect. Students shared their colors by identifying them on the color wheel. Some colors that were made were not on the color wheel which provided the opportunity to discuss the process of color mixing on a deeper level.

The colors of our kindergarten artists and their friendships will be on display as a fish mosaic, one of Mr. Lionni’s characters, during their Spiral Unit Celebration performance on Friday, February 19.

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‘Tis the Season… To be Inquiring

By Mary Worthington, Director of Admission

December is one of my favorite times of the year. Langley’s campus is covered in garlands, the students are bursting with joy, holiday cheer fills our halls and the admission season is well underway. My days are filled with meeting new families, introducing them to our community and guiding them in finding the right educational environment for their child.

In my 8th year in Admissions at Langley, I continue to relish each admission season. It is a true pleasure meeting families with a deep commitment to their children. Welcoming curious student visitors to our classrooms is a highlight for not only our office, but also our student hosts as they share their school.

Our students are truly Langley’s best ambassadors. I want to share these wise words from one of our 8th graders – Jackson Sands – who joined Langley in kindergarten. Enjoy Jackson’s reflection on his experience in the video below.


In addition to our traditional admission events, we held three webinars throughout the fall providing families with important research and trend-based information regarding Langley’s dynamic program.

  • Introduction to Langley
  • Why Invest in a Private School Education?
  • Starting Young: What the Research Says About Choosing the Right Learning Environment

Langley Webinars

The demand for these types of events is exciting and we look forward to hosting more.

Langley’s application deadline is around the corner! For families interested in exploring Langley, I encourage you to take advantage of some of the material in this blog. Please also know that my door is always open as you think about the right school for your child. I wish all of you a happy, healthy and relaxing holiday season.

 

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You Don’t Have to Choose: Why True Success Depends on Academic Achievement and Social and Emotional Competence

By Dr. Elinor Scully, Head of School

The summer months usually afford educators an opportunity to catch up on their reading, both for pleasure and professionally. This summer was no exception for me, and one of the most gratifying aspects of my summer reading was to see the proliferation of more research supporting some of the major goals and objectives of Langley’s next strategic plan. Educators have long known about the benefits of social and emotional learning for students of all ages, but particularly young children. However, the research supporting the long-term interpersonal and academic outcomes for students who develop these vital capacities is becoming clearer.

Research related to The Fast Track Project, administered in schools in North Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, and Pennsylvania, reveals that the development of specific social and emotional skills can be tied to success in later life. (Brown, The Washington Post) Particularly, skills related to problem solving, successful peer relationships, empathy, cooperation, collaboration, listening skills, assertiveness, and kindness are linked with positive school affiliation, achievement, resisting negative social behaviors, and ultimately finding stable full-time employment in young adulthood.

“These findings add to a growing body of evidence—including long-term studies drawn from data in New Zealand and Britain—that have profound implications for educators. These studies suggest that if we want many more children to lead fulfilling and productive lives, it’s not enough for schools to focus exclusively on academics. Indeed, one of the most powerful and cost-effective interventions is to help children develop core social and emotional strengths like self-management, self-awareness and social awareness—strengths that are necessary for students to fully benefit from their education, and succeed in many other areas of life.” (Bornstein, The New York Times)

The Langley School has long been committed to developing these capacities in our students. Our new strategic plan, however, seeks to take our expertise in this area further and to develop a more comprehensive program to target these well-researched skills. I am often surprised when these skills are referred to as “soft skills” or “non-cognitive,” suggesting that they are somehow less important and even easily achieved. In point of fact, being able to regulate negative emotions, to deeply appreciate the perspective of others, and to simultaneously balance the ability to assert oneself and work collaboratively and effectively with others are not simple, “non-cognitive” tasks. They are essential, and most successful adults I know continuously work at perfecting the art of these so-called “soft skills.”

We are in the fortunate position at Langley to start building these skills with our youngest students on day one. Research supports that this is when to do it, by kindergarten for sure. We have a mission that sees the mutually reinforcing and equally essential dependence of academic and social and emotional skills. And we have parents who share in a commitment to raise academically sophisticated students, who act with heart and mind in equal measure. Schools should not privilege academic achievement over social/emotional competence and moral goodness. My summer reading, whether from The Huffington Post or The Washington Post, The New York Times or Kim Marshall’s excellent Educational Digest, reinforced once again that that is a false choice. And this new research reminded me that our mission at Langley to raise students who can lead lives of self-defined meaning and purpose requires we attend to these skills deliberately and comprehensively as soon as students arrive on our campus.

The Best Day of the Week: Big Buddy Time

By Melissa Legg, Kindergarten Teacher

The weather is getting cooler, the leaves are turning brilliant colors, and we are entering Little Buddyinto a very exhilarating time of year. As a kindergarten teacher, I get to see the uninhibited excitement of 18 5- and 6-year-olds as the holiday season is well under way. However, I must say that even the excitement of Halloween costumes, Thanksgiving dinner, and hoping for the first snowfall doesn’t hold a candle to what happens on Friday afternoons in the kindergarten classrooms.

Let me set the stage for you. It’s Friday afternoon, lunch is over, and the hubbub of excitement is at its highest level of the week. In about 10 minutes there will be several celebrities visiting the kindergarten classrooms. That’s right. We have celebrities attending The Langley School! These celebrities are sports stars, artists, actors and actresses, musicians, and wonderful role models.

Now, it is one minute until the 1:45 p.m. bell will ring and there is so much anticipation in the kindergarten classrooms that the students can barely sit still. They are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their Big Buddies. As the bell rings and the Big Buddies (our Langley celebrities) come into the classroom, the best time of the week is finally here!

The Big Buddy/Little Buddy program is a wonderful part of our year here at The Langley School. Each kindergarten student is paired with an eighth-grade student for the entire year. Every Friday, the Big Buddies come to the kindergarten classrooms to spend time with their Little Buddies. During this time, the buddies work together on art projects, play outside, draw pictures, read books, play board games, and get to know each other.

As teachers, we get to observe a very special bond forming between the younger and older students. This program allows the Big Buddies the chance to expand their leadership roles within the school and build their confidence. It can be a challenging, yet extremely rewarding experience that stretches many comfort zones. We have seen Big Buddies do everything from (patiently) teach a 5-year-old how to play chess, to (happily) act like writhing pythons in the grass during an imaginative game outside.

From the perspective of the Little Buddies, it allows them to see what lies beyond their classroom. Kindergarten is a time when students are just beginning to broaden their world beyond themselves. Spending time with a Big Buddy is not only the greatest 50 minutes of the week; it is also extremely instrumental in their personal growth and development. Kindergartners not only idolize their Big Buddies; they learn from them as well.

So, each Friday as you are counting down the minutes to the weekend, know that there is something very exciting happening at The Langley School in the kindergarten classrooms.