Our faculty understands that it is critical to intervene as early as possible when children have reading, writing, and math challenges. It is critical to identify the individual needs of each student and provide diagnostic and prescriptive lessons that ensure success. Providing proper instruction when a child is young reshapes learning pathways during a period of powerful brain “neuroplasticity,” when significant changes in brain structure are much easier to attain. Providing a strong foundation of learning necessary is critical when we are building a path for academic success in middle and high school. Dyslexia is a language-based learning disorder that is characterized by a difficulty learning both written and oral language. This will certainly affect a child’s progress in reading and written expression, but it may also affect learning in other content areas. Often, students who have dyslexia have difficulties with executive functioning, ADHD and have other challenges such as dyscalculia or dysgraphia. They may experience problems with auditory processing, working memory and general processing speed. These challenges can affect all aspects of a child’s school experience. The Laurel School of Princeton offers an integrative, engaging curriculum that enables our students to develop the confidence to learn and excel.
Reading Class– Our reading instruction is provided by certified teachers using specialized programs, such as Wilson Reading System® or Orton Gillingham, designed to support reading success for students with language based learning disabilities. This approach includes direct, explicit, sequential, and multi-sensory instruction for teaching literacy skills.
Reading Class is provided in homogeneous groups of no more than five students for one hour daily. Students are instructed in building decoding, reading fluency, vocabulary, reading comprehension, spelling, and proofreading skills. Instruction is data-driven and assessment is frequent to ensure that students can achieve progress as quickly as they are able. Progress monitoring is embedded in our curriculum. Class groupings are fluid throughout the school year based on student mastery.
Language Arts Class- Laurel School’s language arts class is grouped by homeroom class. Our intensive curriculum incorporates reading comprehension, written expression, vocabulary, and study skills. We use a research-based, multisensory, direct-instruction approach to teaching language arts. Teachers focus on student’s strengths, while remediate areas of personal challenge.
In Language Arts class, curricular content unfolds in logical ways that facilitates student learning and progress. Reading comprehension and vocabulary instruction are taught explicitly while fostering creative expression and a love of books. Teachers provide direct instruction using literature that is age-appropriate despite the fact that some students may not be able to independently decode the text to ensure students are challenged to their intellectual ability. Students begin learning the structure of text, specifically narrative and expository text structures by exploring advanced literature and nonfiction text. Laurel incorporates well-respected specialized programs, such as Lindamood-Bell® Visualizing, and Verbalizing®, Project Read® Story Form® and Report Form®, Project Read, and Developing Metacognitive Skills® to support individual needs. We explicitly teach active reading strategies to facilitate greater comprehension, such as understanding text structures, determining importance, drawing Inferences, monitoring comprehension and meaning, and creating mental images.
Writing goals are differentiated by grade level standards and a student’s current level of ability. Students develop the skills needed to write clear, linguistically-complex sentences, and well-organized paragraphs and compositions as part of their Language Arts curriculum. They progress from sentence structure mastery to more complex paragraph structure and longer writing pieces, learning to use text evidence and more detail as they advance. The writing strategies learned during structured writing time are integrated into the written expression instruction across all content areas.
Math in Focus- Our students receive small grouped, direct instruction for one hour daily. Laurel school focuses on developing students’ conceptual understanding of mathematics, problem-solving, mathematical language, and procedures with language-based learning disabilities in mind.
Trained under math specialist Marilyn Zecher, our approach applies Orton-Gillingham multisensory instructional strategies to mathematics. Students are guided through concrete, pictorial, and abstract understanding of mathematical concepts to accommodate all levels of understanding. New concepts are introduced with increasing depth and complexity and are consistently reviewed and practiced. Lessons make connections between instruction and real-life applications of math. Teachers implement a multi-sensory curriculum; manipulatives, kinesthetics, mnemonics, and other visual supports are integrated into daily instruction to promote student engagement and retention of math concepts.
The Laurel School’s math curriculum follows the progression of skills and concepts developed by the NCTM (National Council for Teachers of Mathematics) standards. The Laurel School focuses on the individual student, not a specific program. We use materials that best suit an individual child. The teachers draw on many established programs, including Jump Math, Math-U-See, Woodin Math, Steve Wyborney, Ronit Bird and various other leaders in the field of mathematics instruction.
Social Studies- Social Studies are organized around chosen topics or themes outlined by the National Councial for Social Studies and New Jersey standards. Our approach uses expository texts, literature, technology, and project-based learning in a language arts learning environment. The content provides the background through which information processing deficits are remediated and critical thinking abilities are developed so students are prepared to participate competently as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.
Science- Our Science program exists to celebrate and grow the strengths, creative interests, and potential of our students. These classes and cross-curricular activities are designed to leverage many of the inherent abilities of our students. Our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Lab provides our students with the opportunity to pursue project-based learning, while developing curiosity and a scientific mindset. Students become systematic problem solvers as they use the scientific method in their work in the lab, maker space and even the outdoors in our campus garden. All Science classes prepare for the Science Expo, an annual school-wide celebration of science and discovery.
NoticeAbility- This course is provided weekly, this STEAM/PBL Block (the acronym STEAM/PBL stands for Science Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics/ Project Based Learning) This course explores the fundamental tenets of entrepreneurship, architecture and the arts through a project-based, experiential lens. The ten-module course highlights the cognitive skills associated with dyslexia and provides students with practical exercises that help them recognize these attributes in themselves. Furthermore, students are provided scaffolding to enhance their social- emotional learning and executive functioning skills which serve as a framework for academic and personal empowerment.
Music is provided weekly and is an academic-based program which is integrated with other studies. Students in all grades receive instruction in general music depending on grade level. Through the years, students will learn basic note reading and counting. Singing and playing instruments such as recorders, boomwhackers and the ukulele are also studied. Classes will also focus on listening and the historical context of music, genres and important composers.
Theater is provided weekly and gives students the opportunity for musical and theatrical expression and performance throughout the year. We seek to help our students reach their artistic potential with hands-on learning. Performances are given throughout the year, such as full Holiday performance and a performance at graduation. Each Spring, the entire school participates in a full musical. Every student is assigned a stage role or stage crew.
Health is provided weekly, the goal is to develop health literate individuals who have the knowledge, skills and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of good health. It is our goal that our students will know the benefits of making positive health choices, especially in response to outside influences from their peers and the media. The goal is to encourage each student to take responsibility for their own health.
Physical Education is offered weekly and is critical to the development and maintenance of good health. The goal of Physical Education is to develop physically educated individuals who have the knowledge, skills, and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity. It is our goal that our students will know the benefits of their choice to be involved in physical activity and have a mindset that values physical activity and its benefits in sustaining healthy lifestyles.
Technology is provided twice a week, our students have access to Apple computers, Chromebooks, iPads, and other appropriate technologies. Each student has a laptop in order to take full advantage of assistive technology programs used in the classroom. The use of assistive technology programs, which are continually updated, allows students to have access to information that is cognitively appropriate but may not be easily decode. The students also have access to 3D printing.
Digital Citizenship- Learning to make sense of knowledge in the 21st century means that students must be able to use and evaluate appropriate digital tools and resources. Laurel recognizes that healthy, productive use of communication tools and digital devices must be taught and supported. We engage in thoughtful discussions and utilize the Commonsense Media curriculum, so students learn what it means to be responsible online, and how to develop a positive image of themselves throughout the internet.
Photography- This course introduces students to the basics of photography, including camera functions, photo composition and the history of photography. Students will learn what it takes to create a good photograph and how to improve photographs. Students will create a portfolio each semester of their work.
We are simply AMAZED at the level of improvement we have seen in our child this year at Laurel School. For the first time, our child is using the strategies being taught to decode and spell words. He is beginning to see that he CAN learn to spell and sound out new words, and this has increased his level of confidence and his willingness to learn. We love that he isn’t getting pulled out of another class to receive OG instruction…every student gets one hour of OG based instruction every day here!