PS1 has a history of sending well-rounded, successful students into the world. As our graduates move into secondary school they often find themselves ahead of their peers. The ability to ask questions, express ideas, think critically and maintain passion for learning distinguishes PS1 students.
Our graduates have a high acceptance rate at prominent independent schools. Upon graduation, our students attend the schools of their choice including Archer, Brentwood, Crossroads, Harvard-Westlake, Marlborough, New Roads, Wildwood and Windward, among many others.
Young students begin elementary school with a range of reading and pre-reading abilities and we accommodate all levels. Our teachers use a combination of phonics and whole language approaches to ensure development of solid reading and critical thinking skills. We place an equal emphasis on the joy of reading. PS1 students are surrounded by books, and reading for pleasure is scheduled into the classroom routine and encouraged as a daily at-home activity.
At PS1, every student is an author. For the youngest students, dictation and transitional spelling help them express their ideas in writing right from the start. That way, learning grammar and spelling is part of the process rather than a stumbling block to self-expression. Throughout our program, students keep journals, participate in our Writers Workshop and become expressive poets.
Even our most shy and quiet students develop into confident and articulate public speakers. Speaking in front of an audience and becoming comfortable expressing thought and opinions are integral parts of our language arts curriculum. This important life skill is developed in a safe and fun environment. Students also learn about active listening and supportive critical feedback. Group discussions, oral book reports, biographical enactments, costumed historical portrayals and all-school Circle Time presentations are just some of the many opportunities that promote these skills.
In addition to teaching basic Math skills, we want our students to become life-long mathematical thinkers and strategic problem solvers. We take an investigative approach to Math. We find everyday mathematical situations that take Math off the page and make it part of real life. For example, our younger students learn about attributes and logic by sorting their shoes and then communicating their findings in a Venn diagram. Older students experiment with statistics and probability by looking at the stock market.
Concepts are better understood after repeated exposures, so our students revisit topics throughout their seven years at PS1 to investigate them with increasing complexity.
Our Social Studies program is often at the core of our integrated units of study. Social Studies themes inform our choices of activities, literature, projects and enrichment opportunities. This program is structured in a series of concentric circles. Younger students learn about things close to them, like families, birth stories and heritage. As they get older, the circles expand to the Los Angeles community, then California history, American history and ancient civilizations. What the students study mirrors their widening awareness of themselves in relation to the rest of the world.
PS1 students not only learn about Science, but act as scientists. The whole school focuses on the same scientific theme every year, and the themes rotate on a two-year cycle between Physical and Earth Science and Life Science. During a Life Science year, our youngest students might investigate the structure of birds and their adaptation to different environments, while students at the next age group study life cycles by observing the hatching of fertile chicken eggs. The oldest group examines human physiology and cellular structure. All students learn to form hypotheses, collect data, look for patterns, and explain the logic behind their conclusions.
Service learning provides PS1 students the opportunity to experience first-hand how they can make a difference in the lives of others. Projects that benefit the community are a great way for students to learn about social responsibility and contribution. PS1 has a long history of supporting many worthy groups in our area. Past service learning projects included organizations like Step up On Second, The Ocean Park Community Center, SOVA Food Pantry, Boys and Girls Club, Sunshine Retirement Home, and Access Books.