In the first few weeks of school, each student will be placed in a community group and will participate in their first Community Group meeting for the year. Community Groups are groups that include about 15 children spanning all grade levels (TK-4) who periodically meet with a designated group leader/teacher that may be different than their general classroom teacher.
The purpose of Community Groups is for children to participate and feel a sense of belonging in a consistent mixed-age grouping, in which older students are given opportunities to develop leadership, compassion, and nurturing behaviors, while younger children find role models, peer support in social and academic activities, and all children experience a sense of family and friendship beyond their regular grade level group. Community Groups help provide every child a new group of “family and friends” in their school community and help them to branch out and meet new people, including new adults/teachers. Once the community groups are established, children will always sit with their Community Group during School Sing so as to have another touch point with their newfound friends.
Expected Schoolwide Learning Results/
Every Student Learns and Respects
ESLRs represent the most essential things that students should know and be able to do by the time they graduate. ESLRS represent not only what students should know, but how they will approach their learning, and how they will relate that knowledge to the world around them. ESLRS are embedded in the curriculum and culture here at Larchmont Fairfax, and provide a focus and continuity for the students' learning experience. To help make the understanding of the ESLRs more concrete for elementary-aged students, we have chosen to have ESLR stand for “Every Student Learns and Respects.”
ESLRs help the students to:
by writing clearly,
by listening and hearing others,
by expressing oneself honestly and
through many artistic frameworks.
Seek to understand:
by formulating questions,
by pursuing answers,
by reading critically and thoughtfully,
as a reflective learner,
the perspectives of a world community of culture.
for other students,
for school materials,
for the school site,
for one’s family and community,
about the environment, living beings, and the earth’s limited resources.
for one’s actions,
for one’s words,
for one’s learning,
for one another,
for one’s healthy body and mind.
when problems cannot be solved readily,
when faced with criticism and disappointment,
to work through struggles and setbacks,
by attempting trials: examining errors, trying harder, differently, and then trying again.
One of the missions of the school is to develop positive, school-wide plans for maximizing student potential. Larchmont Fairfax school culture epitomizes the belief that encouraging positive qualities is paramount in developing students with good character, who make appropriate choices, and are effective leaders and excellent students. In order to help us support and promote positive behaviors, the Larchmont Fairfax will officially kick off the ESLR Campaign at the beginning of every school year during School Sing.
During the first School Sing of each month, Student Council will help introduce an ESLR trait. Using read-alouds, skits, role-playing, and a variety of other delivery methods, our school leaders in second and third grade will help to illuminate the meaning behind each ESLR.
Each week, various students from a designated grade level will come to the stage to explain how their class had demonstrated one of the ESLRs that month.
This may include stories about how their entire class has strived to exhibit ESLR behavior, or it may be about a particular student who has gone above and beyond.
In order to visibly recognize classrooms for their exceptional work towards the ESLRs, we will have an ESLR Award board near the front office where classes can be recognized and rewarded for outstanding achievement and effort towards learning the ESLRs.
All classrooms will also have the ESLRs visibly on display to highlight for students the importance of our character education program.
What has "risk takers" performing on stage, teachers reading and singing to the entire school, and students still talking about events from elementary school years later? It's Larchmont Charter School’s "Morning Sing," a weekly event that brings together the entire school community for music, recognition, character campaigns, and friendship. Our school gathers as an entire community of 242 students (and many parents) every Friday for this unique school tradition – Friday Sing!
School Sing allows us to gather as a community and share many wonderful experiences. Led by our amazing music teacher, everyone will sing along to the songs students are learning about in our music program. Other teachers and the fourth grade students act as the emcee, and more students come up on stage to showcase our ESLR character education program. You’ll hear famous Larchmont songs, including the “Birthday Song” and “It’s Not Cool to be Cruel.” Students and staff who celebrate birthdays during the week stand while the group sings to them. The Sing Along and ESLR awards and departure song help to top it all off!
School Sing has helped developed great school community, spirit, and cooperation among grades and it’s enabled all teachers and children to participate and shine! The experience has encouraged many a student to blossom into people who are willing to try new things and succeed.
Don’t miss it this special moment in Larchmont’s life each week!
Way of Council
At Larchmont Fairfax, one strategy for promoting academic, social, emotional, and organizational growth is the Way of Council. Council is an age-old practice that encourages deep and honest communication among and between students and adults. We weave Council into all aspects of our curriculum and use it organizationally as a tool for co-visioning, community building, and making decisions in a group context.
Participants agree to speak one-at-a-time, sharing their personal stories and experiences, rather than opinions, and listening non-judgmentally while others do the same. Sharing and listening to universal stories about love, loss, fear, triumph, challenge, hope and other experiences enables participants to recognize that, despite our many differences, we have much in common. By sitting in circles in our classrooms and passing a “talking piece” while speaking in response to a prompt from a facilitator, we hone our intentions to listen non-judgmentally and without reaction; to speak spontaneously and not plan while others are speaking; and to get to the heart of the matter so everyone has time with the talking piece. In this way, we work towards a more peaceful and empathic way of relating to others.
Our classroom community is exponentially enhanced through the practice of Council. Council builds positive relationships between participants and neutralizes hierarchical dynamics formed by the inequality of status, race, or other social factors. It supports a deep sense of community and fosters recognition of a shared humanity and interconnectedness.
The Larchmont Charter School at Fairfax Student Council represents the voice of our students! Our elementary student council presents a unique opportunity for young students to learn organization, leadership and teamwork skills and prepares them for later student government positions. It provides an opportunity to directly participate in decisions that affect our school.
The Student Council is comprised of 6 fourth graders (3 from each class) and 4 third graders (2 from each class). Student Council members are elected twice per year.
- Community service: Student Council has helped organize our yearly Thanksgiving Food Drive amongst other service activities.
- School Sing: Student Council, in conjunction with the fourth grade classes, helps to organize, design, and facilitate our weekly Friday Sing events.
- ESLRs: Student council helps to promote our character education campaign each month.
- School Spirit: Designing Spirit Week activities.
- School Legacy Projects: Student councils have the ability to leave lasting impressions on their schools through legacy projects.
The curriculum and instruction at Larchmont Charter School is based on the theory of constructivism. This approach 1) acknowledges that children’s minds process information in different ways, and 2) recognizes that true learning occurs when children connect new learning to previous understanding to construct their own personal way of knowing. Integrated, action-based learning is one of the primary approaches to offering a constructivist learning environment. Taking children out of the classroom to explore their environment assists in delivering curriculum through diverse means and providing opportunities for children to make meaningful and personal connections to the content. Field trips are a critical element of our curriculum in that they allow students to explore the world around them, learn in unique environments, encounter new ideas and concepts, and engage in the greater Los Angeles Community.
At each grade level, teachers have identified field trips that enhance the curriculum in academic areas that specifically support the CA State Standards and the NGSS standards across science and social studies. These academic areas are integral to our project based approach and support skills development in the areas of English Language Arts and math, as well as the specific standards in the subject areas.
In past years, our school has visited: The CA Science Center, Tree People, the Aquarium of the Pacific, Ecostation, Discovery Cube, Russian Cultural Center, Torrance Courthouse, San Gabriel Mission, and the Zimmer Museum.
4th Grade Buddies
Who among us doesn't remember a feeling of joy when, as young children, we became friends with one of the older children at our school? Those feelings of maturity, acceptance, and belonging were priceless. It was experiences just like that that helped us feel a great sense of safety and inclusion in our school surroundings. According to Leah Davies, M.Ed., good school-wide buddy systems promote more than just those warm feelings; these programs enhance positive behaviors in both the older and the younger buddies.
Our fourth graders meet with their buddies once per month to do a special activity together. We’ve experienced first hand that the older students have a deep sense of responsibility toward the younger students and take their buddy jobs very seriously. While this is a great benefit to our younger students, our fourth graders are able to hone their own skills of cooperation and collaboration with a younger child who can learn those same skills by interacting with the older students. Sharing knowledge, taking turns, helping one another, and completing tasks with the help of someone more experienced than they are…what better experience than that.
Ask any Larchmont kindergartener and fourth grader and you’ll learn that buddies form a lasting bond that carries on throughout the TK-12th continuum. A tradition for many years at Larchmont, the K-4 connection is something that the older children look forward to throughout their years here and it’s hard to miss the glee amongst our kindergarteners when they know they’ll be meeting with their buddies soon.