Why The Earth School?
A School Grounded in the Values of Montessori Philosophy and the Principles of International Education.
The Earth School provides a child-centered education in a carefully prepared environment, following a whole-child focus that supports cognitive, physical, social and emotional development. Our Montessori curriculum is designed to help students acquire life skills and foster independent learning by supporting natural development. Each child is presented with subjects and skills in a sequence that follows their own pace.
Following the Earth School philosophy, our facilities are tailored to offer many experiential learning opportunities, both indoor and outdoors.
At The Earth School, children:
Develop a sense of wonder and possibility.
Learn in a peaceful, respectful, and nurturing environment.
Develop confidence, independence, and a sense of order.
Develop habits of initiative and persistence.
Cultivate concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning.
A Lab for the Imagination
Montessori classrooms are very different from traditional classrooms where students sit in rows facing a teacher, who is the focal point of the learning process. Instead, they resemble laboratories where children move about interacting with specially designed equipment tailored to their age and developmental stage. Students work alone or in groups, moving from workstation to workstation and defining themselves the pace and structure of their learning.
The activities provide opportunities to discover and strengthen new skills that have practical, real-life applications. Once students master the skill the equipment focuses on, they can start playing the role of mentors to other children in their mixed-age group. Teachers are close by to provide guidance as needed, but the lead of the learning process is the student.
Made for Exploration
Natural Learning Environments
While our classrooms and their specially designed equipment play an important role at the Earth School, the built environment is just a part of their learning experience. The natural grounds of and around the Earth School also respond to our approach as seeing learning opportunities everywhere.
Rather than just the usual swing set, where play structure is pre-determined by designers, our grounds retain a natural environment where carefully placed features and loose objects allow children to add their imagination and construct scenarios where their creativity can flourish. Thus, our grounds become forests, meadows, hills, steps, gardens, labyrinths, farms, camping spots, stages, quiet reading areas, spaces for group gatherings, etc. There are spaces to play soccer, play sand, hide and seek, gather to hear a story, rehearse and present a play or a dance, or simply hang out with friends.
The make-believe, imaginative, symbolic nature of play in a safe, yet challenging natural environment are learning tools that help children transition from the concrete to the symbolic, and from the primitive thought to the elaborate and creative imagination that is needed to apprehend the complexity of our world.
Living Stewardship and Sustainability at Rwanda's Greenest School
For the Good of the Planet
In the natural spaces of the Earth School children become aware and interact with the other beings with which we share this planet: birds, small mammals, trees, plants, insects, etc. They can participate in stewardship and conservation exercises, such as planting, cultivating, watering and weeding plants, observing and understanding animal lifecycles, and caring for their immediate natural environment at the School. All these are activities that build positive attitudes and useful skills while creating fond memories and happy students.
In keeping with its stewardship values, The Earth School community is transforming its urban campus into the greenest school in Rwanda, incorporating both traditional and high-tech approaches to care for the soil, water, air, biodiversity, and reduce our carbon footprint:
Solar power generation and energy-efficient LED lights
Rainwater is used for plant watering
Composting of organic waste
Small square-foot gardens for growing edible plants in an urban setting
Small animal husbandry
Arts and Sports for a Well Rounded Education
Although small and intimate by choice, The Earth School provides students with many opportunities and spaces to practice sports and arts for a well-rounded education.
Physical Education, Health and Nutrition
Children can start their day with exercise in the gym or outdoors in the garden. This helps them burn energy and get ready for long spans of concentrated work in the Montessori classrooms. As part of the PE program, children also learn good living habits including the benefits of a balanced and healthy nutrition.
Besides free play in the school's natural areas, children can, under the guidance of the PE instructor, learn to float or perfect their strokes at the swimming pool, shoot hoops in the driveway basketball court, learn to play badminton, volleyball, soccer, and table tennis in a safe environment that primes fair play and sportspersonship.
Great emphasis is placed on free expression through the visual arts. Our wonderful art rooms are equipped with endless opportunities for expression using techniques such as acrylic and watercolors, oil paint, modeling clay, mixed media, photography, and the all-time favorite, finger paint. Samples of students' work take place of pride at the school's walls, giving it the look and feel of a contemporary art gallery.
Music and Performing Arts
Singing and music are ever present at The Earth School. From classic children's songs to Rwandan drumming to contemporary dance, children enrich their learning experience and enjoy the gift of music.
Our studio is equipped for dance, floor gymnastics and toddler tumbling, drama, and martial arts, as well as a professional sound system for setting up talent shows and school plays.
Learning in Harmony in a Diverse International Community
The Montessori method is built strongly on foundations of peace and internationalism. Learning about the Earth as a whole system, and working daily in an environment of respect for self, for others, and for the environment, helps children understand and value the essential inter-relatedness of all humanity.
Our character-building program is based on universal human values. Our Self-Awakened Child Program builds on 15 character traits to help children grow into secure, confident, compassionate and tolerant human beings:
Acceptance Assertiveness Compassion
Courage Creativity Forgiveness
Honesty Kindness Loyalty
Peace Respect Responsibility
Self Discipline Trust
These values are lived daily by our learning community. The Earth School is a multi-cultural secular institution that welcomes children and families from all ethnic, racial, religious, or national backgrounds and diverse family structures.
Despite it's small size, between 25 and 30 nationalities from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas are usually present in campus every year, helping children befriend and learn from peers and adults from cultures other than their own. While classes are held in English and French, other languages are frequently heard in classrooms, playgrounds and parking lots. During International Week held once a year, parents and students bring to school samples of their home culture, which may include music, food, art, storytelling, and fashion.
Using Science and Technology to Develop Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills
The Montessori method is based on the natural curiosity and learning desire of children discovering the wonders of the world. The best grown-up scientists are those who have retained the innate curiosity of children!
The school offers many opportunities to link the curriculum with hands-on discovery and experimentation to foster inquisitive minds, and help children apply rigor and method to their inquiry in classroom, lab and field settings. Our science lab room is full of tools: magnifying glasses, microscopes and telescopes to enhace their ability to discover the world, sensors and gauges to measure physical and chemical properties, states, and changes, simple machines, solar-powered electric circuits, optics and light benches, real lab glassware to measure, mix, and separate safe chemicals, and all the protective equipment needed to ensure discovery and inquiry are safe and fun.
Besides empirical observation and experimentation, children at The Earth School learn to seek and discern the abundant information at our disposal from the human legacy of thousands of years of learning and discovery. Non-fiction reading, seeking information through web browsers, sifting and analyzing critically the sources available, all form basic foundations for their development into critically-thinking adults in an information overload age.
From the Mouth of our Students
Don't take our word for it, listen to the children!
I like to do art and the presentations the teachers do. I like having a contract because every time I finish a work, I don't have to go back to a teacher to ask what to do next. This is the best school I have ever had!
Roan ( age 6)
I like the Earth School because it is fun and my teachers are great. My favorite subjects are science, math and art.
Yemariam ( age 7)
I like that the teachers care about me and help me with the things I don't know. I get to choose what I work with and I am free to do things.
Maya ( age 8)
I meet new friends from over the world. I enjoy my free play and like that we do, lots of fun arts and craft activities. We work hard to keep our environment clean and neat. It helps us to concentrate on our work.
Derek ( age 8)
I think it is really fun because it is like a “funner” way to learn than in a normal school. That’s because in a normal school you always have to do the same as everyone else and you don’t get to sit together all the time. At the Earth School we get to choose what we want to do and we don’t always have to sit at one desk we can chose who we sit beside each day and I think that is better.
My favourite thing about it is the contracts, which we decide about each Monday and we finish it by Friday. I love the contract as it is always challenging as you think you might not finish it but often you end up finishing them even a day before Friday!
Marcia (age 8)
I enjoy school because we have choices in what we do. I like that we can work with other children of different grades and we can learn from each other.