Seven Teaching and Learning Principles

EHAS has identified seven teaching and learning principles our holistic curriculum is based on, principles that we feel are essential to a holistic approach in a classroom each week.

1. Narrative-based

Oral storytelling is a way of life at EHAS. Stories that are told orally (not read from a book) naturally capture children’s imaginations. An imaginative story brings concepts to life. New concepts are introduced through stories. Math, Science, Social Studies, Geography and almost all new units are presented through stories, which are also a way to connect children to their cultural heritages. Myths, legends, folktales, fairytales and histories from around the world are told throughout the grades. When students get older, they learn the art of storytelling, tell stories about their ancestors, and role-play or re-enact historical events.

2. Arts-based

The arts engage children in the learning process with their hands and hearts. Arts are central to the morning lesson, because arts help to integrate subjects. Examples include dramatization of a story, painting plants for science, clapping rhythms to learn math, and learning about fractions through quilt patterns. The arts are also taught on their own, as subjects; teachers show students how to paint and draw throughout the grades. We follow the Toronto District School Board music curriculum, as it offers an excellent music education. Drama is integrated throughout the curriculum, and, in grades 5 and 7, students are involved in specialized drama education and the production of a class play.

3. Experience-based

Children learn through experience and exploration. In the primary years, a lot of the Science and Math curricula are taught outside, which lends itself to hands-on, experiential learning. For example, data management is taught by collecting data about plant species or insect populations. In the higher grades, students learn abstract concepts through real-life, learning activities — grade 5 students form a mini-parliament in class for instance.

4. Inquiry-based

Much of this is covered in “Intuition and Inquiry Connections” section of The Holistic Curriculum. At EHAS, other techniques to develop intuition are visualization and metaphor. Visualization can facilitate cohesiveness in the classroom, motivate student interest, and support creative writing. Using metaphors encourages students to make connections between ideas and subject matter; they encourage students to see patterns, provoke inquiry and stimulate the creative process.

5. Cooperative-based Learning

The inquiry and problem-based model lends itself to children working collaboratively on problems and in groups. Students work in small groups on tasks that are either initiated by the students or assigned by the teacher. The kindergarten exploration program helps to lay a foundation for the students to work cooperatively.

6. Teacher-led Learning

EHAS aims to strike a balance between student-led and teacher-led activities. Throughout the curriculum when students are learning new concepts and techniques in Math, Science, Language, Drawing, Music and French it is important for teachers to lead activities.

7. Project-based Learning

Small-scale, project-based learning begins in kindergarten. For example, students explore math and science by documenting how a sprinkler system works through an artistic medium. By grade 3 class projects are on a larger scale, for example students design and build a sustainable dwelling. Projects help to bring together a number of concepts and skills into an authentic learning activity.