We are proud to provide our students with the opportunity to learn alongside a diverse group of children and families who reflect the racial, cultural and socio-economic diversity of the community surrounding our school. Our standards-based program provides an academically challenging, creative and emotionally supportive environment for our students and is designed to continually expand students’ knowledge and understanding of concepts, ideas and information.
This educational philosophy, called constructivism, is the cornerstone of our instructional delivery at Larchmont Charter School. We offer our students materials and strategies for gathering information, a classroom climate of shared inquiry and hands-on experiences, making use of a variety of materials. Teachers design projects to promote collaboration between students, connect concepts between curricular areas, and anchor state standards in meaningful contexts similar to what students will experience in their lives beyond the classroom. Projects are shared with our community in performances, simulations, art shows, and displays as we celebrate together the continuing joy of lifelong learning.
Larchmont Charter School offers elementary-level instruction (grades TK - 4) at our Fairfax and Hollygrove campuses. Grades 5, 6 & 7 are located at our Selma campus. Students continue to upper-middle and secondary levels of instruction at our LaFayette Park campus (grades 8 - 12).
English Language Arts
Our English language arts program is keyed to the notion that reading and writing are components of one process and that each supports the growth of the other. Using the Columbia University Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop models, students spend extended periods of time reading and discussing literature, and have continuous, repeated exposure to the process of writing. In this manner we are building the skills and developing the interest and confidence needed to support lifelong readers and writers, as well as the skills and strategies to ensure success in middle school and beyond.
Our goal for mathematics instruction is to produce students who recognize and appreciate the mathematical components of their world and the important role that mathematics will play in their future. We strive to develop student fluency with numbers supported by a strong mathematical vocabulary and solid skill base. Challenging projects that implement skills and concepts support the development of mathematical reasoning and algebraic thinking building confident problem-solvers throughout the grades. Our early focus on the application of skills readies our students for increasingly challenging math curricula.
Our standards-based science curriculum is built on the belief that science is a hands-on inquiry–based collaborative endeavor. Hands-on scientific experiences, supported by content rich classroom libraries, Internet resources, speakers and field trips provide a context for discovery. Students test hypotheses, expand their knowledge base, and work with classmates to develop new insights. Projects include collaborative presentations as well as more formal written research. There are many opportunities to share the joy of scientific discovery with classmates, teachers and parents.
We consider our social studies curriculum to be an opportunity to promote a culturally sensitive historical perspective and to inspire civic-minded participation through community service. Our social studies curriculum is aligned with California State Standards, following core content expectations. Instructional delivery is focused on guiding questions and projects as we build student understanding of various historical perspectives, providing opportunities for students to explore, analyze and deepen their understanding of community, diversity and multiculturalism.
Currently, we expose students to the arts in two different ways: within the academic classroom setting, and in weekly subject-specific arts instruction in visual arts, theater and music. When students learn visual and performing arts from skilled specialists, they develop a deeper and more focused appreciation and skill set than they would from integrated arts alone. For example, children learn about color and elements of line in art, dramatic storytelling in theater and they learn rhythm, melody & harmony in music. Arts specialists showcase student work through performances in class and at assemblies, at an annual student art show, and during our weekly community tradition, Morning Sing.
Specialists also work with classroom teachers to enhance integration of the arts in the other subject areas. Students use the arts to deepen their understanding of a subject, or share what they have learned with others. Classroom lessons often include music from the period of study, or opportunities to select art as a way to demonstrate what has been learned.
Physical education & nutrition, as well as our healthy food policy, promote a connection to an active life-style as well as healthy eating habits. Our physical education program emphasizes the importance of activity, and physical education specialists use a variety of strategies to promote engagement and teambuilding as well as fitness. Dance and the use of music are both integral components of our program.
In September 2009, Larchmont Charter School launched the Edible Schoolyard (ESY) program as an affiliate of the Chez Panisse Foundation. Larchmont became one of only a handful of schools nationwide to have been handpicked by Alice Waters to help revolutionize the way children think about food, farming, community, and the environment.
Waters is a chef and activist who considers food a vehicle for social change. She believes that if Americans would choose seasonal, organic food grown sustainably, and eat together at a common table, we could, as a nation, begin to restore family values, rebuild our communities and take better care of our environment. She believes the place to begin this change is with children, in public schools.
The Edible Schoolyard program is a work in progress. No two schools interpret the philosophy in exactly the same way. We are part of a massive and exciting experiment that is being studied and watched across the country.
ESY at Larchmont Charter School
Eco-literacy, stemming from both the physical and social sciences, is a core philosophy of our charter at Larchmont. The Edible Schoolyard program promotes the tenets of eco-literacy by teaching children to garden, and illustrating for them actual biological systems and the inter-connectedness of our natural world. Children help to prepare, serve, and eat local seasonal food. In the process, they awaken their senses, learn about nutrition, help to build a community, and begin to take personal responsibility for the physical earth and the social community.
The lessons of the Edible Schoolyard are woven through every aspect of the curriculum. First, ESY creates a rich environmental and biological science program at the elementary and secondary level. Second, it allows for an integrated curriculum across many academic areas, including social studies and math. Third, ESY supports Larchmont’s constructivist project-based curriculum through integration across the academic curriculum and hands-on activities in the garden and kitchen. Finally, as a component of our ESY program, LCS provides a delicious and nutritious hot lunch program for all of our students at all four campuses.
The School Garden
All students, K-6, have garden or kitchen classes weekly. There, they learn about science and biology, as well as practical skills such as how to compost, collect soil samples, and grow and care for plants. In grades 7 to 12, students have elective class options in the areas of garden and kitchen.
Student Support Services
The vision of Larchmont Charter School’s special education program is to ensure life success and/or college success by providing quality instruction to all students with special needs in the least restrictive environment. Larchmont Charter implements a pull-out/push-in method in providing services for students with special needs. Although Larchmont Charter cannot implement a full co-teaching model, opportunities for co-teaching will be developed during push-in time. SPED and general education teachers are expected to collaborate in differentiation of instruction and modification of curriculum for students with special needs.
Larchmont Charter also provides speech, occupational therapy, counseling, adapted physical education, educational-related mental health services, recreational therapy, vision therapy, deaf/hard of hearing, and behavior intervention supports. Larchmont Charter also implements an intensive social skills program called BASES (Behavior Analysis and Social Education Services) for the elementary program and a transition program where we partner with various agencies including the Department of Rehabilitation for the We Can Work program. We also provide an alternative curriculum for our students who are on the Certificate of Completion track.
Our goal for our students with special needs is to master strategies and skills to compensate for their disability to enable them to demonstrate learning or proficiency/mastery of the common core standards with the end goal of being exited from the special education program prior to high school graduation.