Virginia Chance School is a Progressive Preschool-Elementary in a historic stone schoolhouse on 26 magical acres. A challenging, progressive program that engages students in a hands-on, collaborative environment using outdoor integration, focused on building self-motivation, growth mindset, decision making, community building, and critical thinking skills.
The Chance elementary program – serving kindergartners through fifth-graders — is a community of learners. Our integrated approach develops the whole child – encompassing academics and social, emotional, moral, and physical development. We guide children to optimize their potential during this critical developmental stage of childhood. Upon completing the entire program, a child develops the foundation upon which a lifetime of learning will rest. Each student is becoming a thinker, doer, and self-directed learner. The elementary program is specially designed for busy hands and busy minds, preparing your child to excel in school and life.
Children are placed according to their ages as of Oct. 1 of the school year. Elementary classes meet from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Extended program options are available.
In elementary classrooms, Chance students develop and practice essential life skills under the guidance of two lead teachers. Both teachers are trained to lead, plan curriculum and assess. The classroom meets the needs of children with teaching methods and curriculum components based on a child’s developmental abilities.
A typical elementary day includes:
- Soft Start
- Morning Meeting (greeting, share, activity, letter); SEL work
- Outdoor Time/Snack
- Literacy Block (reading, writing, word study)
- Read-Aloud (comprehension strategies)
- Small Group, One-On-One Centers
- Lunch and Rest
- Math Block (number sense, operations, measurement and data, geometry)
- Everyday Math-Spiral curriculum
- Unit Assessment
- Whole group Instruction (review and Introduce)
- Independent Practice/Centers
- Inquiry-Based Learning Process and Projects (theme-focused - science or social studies led)
- Closing Meeting (reflection)/Outdoor Time
- Specialists - monthly rotations
Elementary Classroom Configuration
- Multi-Age Classrooms:
- First/Second Grade
- Third/Fourth Grade
- Fifth Grade
Kindergarten and the primary 1 and 2 grades are when children are learning fundamental literacy and numeracy skills, and the intermediate grades of 3 and 4 are when children are reading and writing to learn and apply their knowledge. This configuration allows us to provide focused attention at kindergarten and grade 5, with unique development needs. Our multi-age pairings in First/Second and Third/Fourth grades align nicely with the social and academic needs of the children in those developmental stages and foster the learner-leader approach, which is a best-practice approach to education.
At Chance, students engage in reading, writing, listening, and speaking experiences to build their skills. Large and small group activities, center choices, and independent exploration are incorporated to encompass the world of literacy.
Journal writing supports the connection between spoken language and written language. Children explore the structure of the writing process and work on publishing stories to affirm their hard work and effort. More accomplished writers focus on a new genre and develop personal narratives. Our writing block includes independent writing and guided writing.
Our reading block includes independent reading and a daily read-aloud, which models fluency for emerging readers and introduces new vocabulary. Word study focuses on functional mechanics such as spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Literature groups meet regularly to read together and explore common interests as students strengthen their skills.
Click here to learn more about literacy in the early years of our elementary program.
The math program uses a spiral curriculum that revisits concepts and adds new components. Concepts may include numeration and order, patterns, functions and sequences, measurement, currency, time, geometry, and exploring data and probability. A group lesson is typically followed by guided and independent practice. Students use manipulatives as they move from concrete levels of learning to abstract. Enrichment activities and research extensions invite higher-level thinking and real-world applications, helping learners see how math is naturally incorporated into other areas of learning. Real-life math experiences, math-literature connections, and math games support and encourage exploration, investigation, and problem-solving.
Students explore real-life subjects in science and social studies by blending the interests of students with the standards of our rigorous program. We record what students already know, outline what they want to know, and organize their studies to increase understanding of our environment, families, communities, and ever-changing world. Such practice expands knowledge through questions and research and encourages meaningful, engaging projects.
While core requirements are outlined, students have choices within the project. For example, studying the human body, one student may choose to report on the circulatory system while another may present a study of the senses or nutrition. Each study concludes with a written report, a visual representation, and an oral presentation of what was learned. Methods of delivery may include using display boards or Google Slides or conducting taste tests and scientific experiments, to name a few. Often these projects have an aspect of stewardship that encourages students to learn how to care for their community in an authentic and relevant way.
Specialist classes are necessary ingredients of a comprehensive and progressive educational program, supporting the development of the whole child. Students as young as three years old benefit from our specialists in various types of instruction and experiences. Our Elementary students get to dive deep into each of these areas of learning to expand who they are and learn more about the world around them.
Art lets children explore their creative visions using various tools and media introduced each week. Preschool students are exposed to artistic exploration in preschool classes with their teachers, and Elementary students meet with the school’s art teacher during designated rotation times.
Our Science class brings the wonders of science to our preschool students with experiential learning and integrated outdoor discovery with the school’s science teacher. Elementary students develop the skills necessary to function productively as problem-solvers in a scientific and technological world. Each student is involved in first-hand exploration and investigation, and inquiry/process skills are nurtured and expanded with hands-on activities.
Chance students move to strengthen and exercise growing bodies. Elementary students meet with the school’s PE teacher and learn the value of being physically fit through organized games and activities in the Funroom or on the field.
Students gain an appreciation of music through singing and instrumentation. Preschool students explore the world of music in their classes. Elementary students meet with the school’s music teacher and sing a varied repertoire, perform with instruments, read and notate, and learn music’s role in history and culture.
Media, library, and digital citizen instruction, under the guidance of the school’s media specialist, exposes elementary students to various educational apps, coding, the use of the Internet with safe search and best practice querying for reliable sources, and practice with keyboarding. Computers, laptops, and iPads are incorporated appropriately into elementary classrooms to expand learning and enhance research skills.
With a visit to the library each week, preschool and elementary students experience rich literature, which promotes a love of books and reading. The school’s collection includes award-winning Caldecott and Newbery literature, theme study reference books, and parent resource books and is regularly updated, analyzed, and refreshed. Our literature also represents the diversity children will experience in the world, providing mirrors and windows to their own lived experiences.
World Language and Culture broaden students’ awareness of other cultures. All students have exposure through theme studies and the sharing of traditions by Chance families and teachers. Elementary students become engaged in experiences that foster cultural understanding and sensitivity along with using a second language under the guidance of the Spanish teacher. These elementary rotations also happen regularly.