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The Watershed School’s Philosophy of Child Development

The Watershed School is structured with straight grade classrooms. Our educators are very aware of developmental similarities and differences of same age children. Children are all individuals and at the Watershed School will be treated as such. Growing up is a complicated process, and our teachers will match curriculum and classroom structures with developmentally appropriate pedagogy.
Over the past century, consensus has developed among scholars that there are some fairly consistent patterns of child development. Chip Wood, in his book Children in the Classroom, (p. 12-13, 2007) noted that though children progress along a basic developmental continuum, there are some variations that help guide our understanding of this process:
  • Children’s physical maturation, language acquisition, social and emotional behavior, cognition, and ways of approaching their environment follow reasonably predictable patterns.
  • Children generally go through predictable stages in the same order, but they will not all go through them at the same rate. Although children’s developmental patterns do seem broadly similar the world over, important details in their development are deeply influenced by culture, personality, environment, and place. All children are different as all their families. These differences along with particularities of local cultures and local landscapes have marked affects on children’s development.
  • The various developmental components do not proceed at the same rate in each child. A child who develops slowly compared to peers in cognitive areas may advance behind his/her peers in music or physical abilities. Another child might cognitively be a year a head of peers in reading, but may lag behind in the ability to make sense of social situations. The struggling math student might excel at empathy towards the wild creatures of our boreal forest.
  • Growth is uneven. Like the tides of our seas, children seem to surge in growth and then ebb. This dance goes on in adults as well. We know that some days, some weeks, some months, things come easily for us while at other periods we seem to be treading water. Understanding this principal in children is as important as understanding our own life rhythms. Children are not computers. They do not process data the same from one month to the next.