Our Approach » Progressive Education

Progressive Education

Virginia Chance School Students

About Us

Chance School is the only fully dedicated early childhood education program in Louisville, offering education from Preschool to 5th grade. Our evidenced-based Progressive Education curriculum is recognized for its innovative, best-in-class implicit instruction focused on inquiry-based learning.
Virginia Chance School offers rigor in a collaborative environment designed to build self-motivation, a growth mindset, and critical thinking skills with immersive nature-based learning for all students. 
Inside our bright, busy classrooms and outside on our magical wooded campus, students learn through hands-on discovery and group project work. It’s an ideal place for children to develop a lifelong love of learning and connections.
A captivating childhood education awaits...
Progressive Education at Virginia Chance School
Because we offer a progressive education, we:
Focus on the whole child
  • EVERY area of development, cognitive, social, emotional, moral, and physical, are important, and we are intentional to grow them.
  • Each child has the right to be healthy, safe, supported, engaged, and challenged while learning at school.
Create a caring, learning community:
  • Each child is nurtured to be part of a loving and nurturing community.
  • Classrooms are like families that help one another, meet together, work out problems together and care for one another.
  • Our sense of community extends into the home as we value a partnership with parents and offer parenting classes that complement our program and philosophy.
Encourage learning using intrinsic instead of extrinsic motivators
  • Children have a voice in their own learning and get to make choices.
  • We help children learn to process what they think and feel about their own work rather than focus on what outsiders think and feel.
  • Learning is its own reward, and we want children to love to learn; therefore, we don’t cheapen that with stickers and gold stars or grades.
Provide active, hands-on, experiential learning opportunities
  • Children play an active role in discovering, exploring, creating, and thinking as a necessary part of their learning instead of passive learners who listen to the teacher's lecture and “pour in” facts and information.
  • Teachers serve as facilitators, guides, listeners, questioners, observers, supporters, challengers, and encouragers of the child.
  • An original motto that is still a part of our Mission/Philosophy Statements says it this way:

I hear, and I forget.
I see, and I remember.
I do, and I understand.

  • Learning centers and stations, theme study, experiments, authentic learning experiences, project-based learning projects are abundant.
Develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and higher-order thinking skills
  • Instead of rote memorization and skill and drill methods that only require children to remember, children are provided opportunities to understand and explain, apply and use information in new ways, analyze and differentiate, evaluate and question, and create and construct.
  • Children create their own questions and solve their own problems.
  • Teachers ask questions that lead to discovery and thinking rather than factual, closed questions.
  • These 21st-century learning skills are incorporated daily.
Focus on collaboration and cooperation
  • Students work together with other students, designing projects and solving problems together.
  • Children learn to work with others instead of only do individual work.
  • Teachers model this by collaborating with other teachers and with students.
  • Cooperation, collaboration, and open exchange of ideas are prevalent.
  • These 21st-century learning skills are integrated through cross-curricular learning experiences.
Treat each child with dignity and respect.
  • Children are treated with respect in how teachers address them, talk to them and guide them.
  • Stephen Glenn’s Developing Capable Young Children and Jane Nelsen’s Positive Discipline serve as guidelines for treating children with dignity and respect.
  • Children participate in making the class rules, and self-discipline is valued.
Focus on process over product
  • We think it is more important to teach children how to learn and how to think critically rather than simply what to learn and what to think.
  • Learning is messy, and we welcome that.
  • Creativity is valued over products that look alike and made from a teacher’s model or directions.
Provide developmentally appropriate learning experiences
  • Each child is met where he/she is developmentally, and then teachers make sure the learning goals and experiences are suited to that level and challenge them to grow.
  • Teachers know each child well and know how children best learn and develop; this knowledge is combined to create learning experiences in the classroom.
  • Learning is differentiated so that each child works to his/her own potential.
Give children a voice.
  • Children are valued, and their interests, ideas, and thoughts matter.
  • The curriculum and classroom environment reflects the students’ interests, input, and decisions.
  • Children are provided with authentic leadership opportunities from an early age.
Provide compassion, social justice, and anti-racism learning
  • Children participate in authentic opportunities to help others, our earth, and animals.
  • As a school of compassion, community service and service-learning projects are incorporated into the curriculum.
  • We commit to celebrating our diversity by teaching inclusiveness and anti-racism.
  • Children grow beyond themselves when learning how to embrace and include others.
Have an integrated curriculum
  • Inquiry-based learning is included in all curriculum areas and provides the framework for integrated, related, and meaningful study.
  • Rather than teach in isolated and unrelated subjects, teachers design a curriculum that is authentic and collaborative.
  • Rather than relying on a single textbook, multiple resources, including field trips, are utilized to develop a curriculum.
  • Inquiry-Based Learning is broad enough to dig deeper and provide in-depth investigations rather than surface or more shallow learning.
Provide authentic assessment
  • Children are observed, listened to, and assessed using authentic evaluations that are age-appropriate.
  • Children’s assessments are on-going, formal, and informal and provide information on children’s learning and, therefore, set goals, guide instruction, and develop curriculum.
Value outside play and nature-based learning
  • Each child plays outside every day, except during heavy rain and thunder.
  • We have 26 acres available to children, including woods, fields, ponds, and Goose Creek.
  • Children experience environmental education through daily natural connections in our woods, gardens, orchard, and chicken coop.
  • We have a program director dedicated to maintaining high levels of nature-based learning and integrating it into the curriculum; our nature-based learning is best practice integration and not just a log-based outdoor play area as with other schools using the same terms.
Virginia Chance School is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

The Foundations of Progressive Education- Parent Education Session:

Sue Musson, Lisa Howie, and Dr. Betsy Fitch discuss below what progressive is and what it is not and share the progressive education tenets mentioned above in action across our different classes.

Post-Sessions Questions about the program resulted in these links being shared. Happy viewing and reading!

https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C18&q=carol+dweck+&btnG= (older research)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN34FNbOKXc (ted talk)

https://www.amazon.com/Mindset-Psychology-Carol-S-Dweck/dp/0345472322 (the book that made her research famous)

Bonus Material just for fun: Visible Learning by John Hattie


How We Teach

Learning cannot be separated from experience. Chance students learn by doing and collaborating. Core curriculum serves as the foundation, and your child’s interests and natural curiosity enhance the classroom experience and help us propel them to their next highest level.

From animals to seasons to other cultures … Chance students select and study themes that build on real-life experiences, which is a core tenet of deep learning and retention. Their studies crisscross from social studies and science into math and art. You won’t find desks in rows at Chance, but you will find children actively engaged as they collaborate on group projects or select learning centers for hands-on exploration. We provide experiences that promote:
  • pride in one’s accomplishments
  • the desire to be an active participant
  • the belief that one is capable
  • the discipline to try and try again
  • the confidence to take risks as a learner
  • the attitude that learning is an exciting journey
  • practice to making choices in their best interest while also considering others
  • a growth mindset
Students’ abilities, interests, thoughts and curiosity feed the curriculum in unique and meaningful ways. They have routine, goals with expectations, and a lot of accountability – and they have choices along the way.

At Virginia Chance School, we believe the goals of education are broad. We want to help children become literate, self-disciplined and socially responsible individuals who are resilient and healthy in body, mind and spirit; therefore, teaching to the whole child – cognitively, socially, emotionally, morally and physically – is our goal.