Frequently Asked Questions

What is Pluralism?

A key founding value of PS1 Pluralistic School, pluralism is the belief that a community is enriched when individual differences are respected and welcomed. Following our educational vision to ‘Celebrate the Many; Build One,’ we believe that elementary school is the ideal time to learn about people and points of view different from ourselves. Our community is consciously and actively inclusive, honoring different religions, cultures, ethnicity, and economic levels. Combining intellectual and emotional intelligence is paramount to success as a human being and central to our unique pluralistic philosophy. At PS1, pluralism is an integral part of our commitment to diversity and interconnectedness in both our community and our curriculum. Fitting in is about being yourself!

Learn more about Pluralism in action at PS1.

Why is a K-6 experience important?

At PS1 Pluralistic School, we are experts in elementary education. As our students grow as individuals, we offer them many different experiences to help them build better understanding of their strengths, motivations, and areas of interest. Building on the foundation of pluralism with the Three C’s (our Core Values) of Competence, Connection, and Confidence, PS1’s curricular values are designed to provide the focus for a child’s elementary journey as one seven-year experience, not seven one-year experiences.

Learn more about the values and intentional structure of PS1’s pluralistic elementary curriculum.

Importantly, we believe that you cannot know what kind of learner your child will be when they are five years old. We also know there is no way of knowing what kind of twelve-year-old learner you will have. So our program has a built-in mechanism for reevaluating, at the 6th grade equivalent, what the next best learning environment is for your child. Our students are eager to actively participate in the search and ultimately attend a wide variety of middle schools that will best support their individual talents and needs as they continue to grow. Accordingly, we encourage families to make their school choices one step, one level at a time. We have found our families greatly appreciate this opportunity and understand its importance in uncovering the genius that exists within each and every child.

How does the Cluster System work?

Students are grouped in a two grade-level-equivalent range within a classroom (K-1, 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, and 5-6). We group students both in a classroom and in a Cluster (2 or 3 classrooms with students of the same age range). The Clusters and their grade level equivalent ranges are as follows: Youngers (K-1); Bridge (1-2 and 2-3); Middles (3-4); and Olders (5-6). Interacting with groups large and small allows each student to know every teacher and every other student in the school. Our students feel a sense of belonging – to a classroom and to a Cluster. With this level of support, PS1 students become self-assured individuals and confident leaders.

Each child develops at her or his own rate. Every year, we consider our Core Values—competence, confidence and connection—when deciding on class placement, and we take great care to make informed placements throughout the Clusters. When making a placement, we gather information from students, parents and teachers in order to consider the following: academic and social-emotional factors; leadership/citizenship as the younger or older in a classroom; and teacher/peer relationships. A child’s academic strengths are given equal weight with social-emotional strengths when considering placement. Changing a child’s peer group from year to year provides each child with opportunities to be both an older and a younger student within the class at different times through his or her school experience. This structure encourages adaptability and creating connection, lifelong skills that help students thrive in many different kinds of environments.

Learn more about the Cluster System at PS1.

What is a typical day like in Youngers?

Students in Youngers start their day with a Morning Meeting to settle in and learn about what’s to come in the day ahead. Each day, students spend time working together as a whole group, in small groups, one on one with teachers, and working independently. Click Here to see a sample schedule to learn more about their day.

What is the transition like to Middle School?

PS1 students attend a wide range of middle schools, from the most progressive to the most traditional. That is because PS1 students understand who they are as learners and they are able to find the best fit for their next stage of schooling. That is also why they make the transition so seamlessly. PS1 students are sought after in the middle school admissions process for their academic strengths matched by their joy of learning, their confidence in tackling new concepts, and their ease in social situations. Our alumni often attribute their success in middle school to the strong foundation provided to them at PS1.

Curious to know where PS1 students matriculate?

How does PS1 prepare students for further academic and personal growth?

At PS1, we seek to uncover information through a wide range of activities and intellectual challenges, generating both academic and social/emotional growth at an important time in each student’s overall development. Project-Based Learning (PBL) and other methods are used across the curriculum in true pluralistic fashion, providing students with many stimulating opportunities to actively explore real-world issues or problems in a relatable context and generate possible solutions. Through working together with each other and their teachers during this ongoing elementary school journey, our students not only build their mastery of academic concepts, but also come to understand the ways in which they learn best as individuals. This approach, built upon our founding curricular values, helps students acquire deeper knowledge while both honing their curiosity and sense of resilience. By progressively learning how to learn during their years at PS1, students also become best equipped for future success in the classroom and in their lives, growing personally while understanding how to be self-driven problem solvers. This preparation during the elementary years lays a foundation that our alumni draw upon throughout life, refining skills that will be critical to understanding the 21st century world and for solving the challenges of tomorrow.

How does PS1 use technology in the classroom?

Technology is one of many learning tools used in the classroom and is a part of the daily life of the classrooms. Specific software is chosen to enhance learning as another tool for teachers. Specific skills such as keyboarding, word processing, and use of the Internet for research are taught. Students create multimedia presentations using iPads or computers. Technology is an integral part of the design and engineering projects that students produce in The Studio. They will use software to design something that they build on the 3-D printer. It is our goal that students become adept and confident with technology as the tools to stimulate and heighten their sense of imagination, discovery, presentation, and exploration.

CLICK HERE to read more about how The Studio integrates technology into the curriculum.

How are incoming students and families welcomed to the PS1 community?

As they join our close-knit learning community, every incoming family is paired with a host family to help make the transition to a new school both easy and inviting. The New Family Dinner, held each May, provides an early opportunity for new families to meet and mingle along with PS1 staff. Additionally, our Child Development Specialist offers incoming parents an educational talk on transitions. Incoming families are invited to participate in summer playdates on and off campus. As the start of school arrives, there are many additional efforts to extend a welcoming hand to our newest community members. Approximately a week prior to the first day of school, one of the two lead teachers does a Home Visit in order to best connect the home and school worlds of a child’s PS1 experience. We have Make New Friends Day just before the first day of school, giving all new Youngers and their families an opportunity to practice the start-of-school routine with their teachers. On the first day of school itself, we hold a welcoming coffee for all parents and showcase the many volunteer opportunities available throughout the community. We then invite incoming parents up to New Parent Orientation as they await Noon dismissal.Finally, we start school on Wednesday and have ½ days for the remainder of that first week to ease into the school year. All this planning leads to a virtually seamless start to the school year for incoming families.

Why doesn’t PS1 give grades?

A non-graded system gives students the ability to develop a sense of intrinsic motivation—to know that they are doing their best work because it is important to them, and not because they are trying to earn a certain grade. We want students to own their learning! Research shows that letter grades diminish a student’s interest in the learning, and decrease the quality of a student’s thinking (Kohn, 2011). We do assess students’ learning on an ongoing basis, and this information is provided to parents through rubric and narrative report cards 3 times a year, and parent-teacher (and, beginning in Bridge, student included) conferences twice a year. Faculty engage in a year-long dialogue with parents, actively maintaining the necessary parent partnership, in order to better understand the learners in their classroom.

Does PS1 do any standardized testing?

Yes. PS1 students take the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) CTP test in the equivalent of their 4th and 5th grade years. Most students take the ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam) in the fall of their 6th grade equivalent year as part of their middle school admissions process. PS1 offers skill-based test preparation, more prominently in Olders, in order to go on to middle school with a solid understanding of and experience with standardized tests.

What is the homework policy?

PS1 believes that homework should be meaningful and developmentally appropriate. Teachers at all grade levels assign homework. In Youngers, it may involve reading and math as well as an activity that connects home and school. About 20 minutes per night is appropriate at this level. Students in Olders typically have an hour of homework each night, involving activities to reinforce learning from the school day as well as ongoing projects that help students learn time-management skills in preparation for middle school.

Does PS1 have sports teams?

No. PS1 is a non-competitive school and therefore we do not have a competitive sports team program. P.E. classes focus on: skill development, teamwork, learning how to play team sports, and sportsmanship. That being said, you can always find PS1 students engaged in soccer and basketball games during recess times, and many students compete on sports teams after school.

Does PS1 teach a foreign language?

No. We believe students in elementary school best learn a second language in an immersion environment. While we have no plans to be an immersion program, we place strong emphasis on grammar instruction in order to prepare students for foreign language study in middle school. Our alumni go on to successfully study Latin, Spanish, French, Mandarin, and many more languages after PS1, and they tell us how important grammar instruction was in building a foundation for learning a new language. We also provide opportunities for students to participate in language and cultural clubs after school.