Teaching & Learning Blog

Learn more about PS1's academic program, philosophy, and curriculum through the lens of Nancy Harding, our Assistant Head for Teaching & Learning. The Teaching & Learning Blog features posts published several times throughout the year. See the latest posts below, or click the link to read past posts from 2016-2017.



Problem-solving as adults relates to the imaginings of our childhood. Imagination is not typically highlighted as part of the executive function skills, yet we know that the ability to examine various outcomes and possibilities is essential to creating the lives we want as adults. Make-believe or imaginative play requires a considerable amount of intellectual flexibility in the child, and flexibility is a key ingredient in both planning and creative problem-solving.

Theoretically, one term for this is decentration. Decentration explains the link between fantasy play and divergent thinking (Rubin, Fein, & Vandenberg, 1983). Decentration involves the ability to attend simultaneously to many features of one's environment, to transform objects and situations while at the same time understanding their original identities and states, to imagine at the same time things as they are and also as they were. For example, the child engaged in make-believe knows that the object he is sitting in is a cardboard box, but he pretends it is a car; in a sense, it is both a box and a car at once, and perhaps it was a submarine ten minutes earlier. Make-believe play, therefore, provides evidence of a considerable amount of intellectual flexibility in the child, and flexibility is a key ingredient in the creative process.

At PS1, imagination is recognized as an important aspect of children’s development as a way for them to express themselves and follow their unique interests. Classrooms and indoor/outdoor play spaces are intentionally organized with innovative materials to support joy in discovery and engage each learner. From the ground up, PS1 encourages this exploration and imagination.



Learning Expeditions

Field trips at PS1 are an integral part of the learning experience. Our teachers use the rich opportunities afforded us by being an urban school, as well as our access to ocean and mountains and the diverse ecology that exists so close at hand.

Our field trips are actually Learning Expeditions.

The purpose of these trips is to provide students with real-world connections to the curriculum content. From La Plaza de Cultural y Artes to the California Oil Museum to the all-school camping trip, our students are out in the world acquiring and processing information. New research on the power of learning expeditions indicates that enrichment field trips increase critical thinking, motivation to learn, and address multiple learning modes (Neville, 2011). Teachers and students return from these trips rich with anecdotes about connections that the students have made and the thinking that was generated and teachers build on these insights back in the classroom. PS1 Learning Expeditions enrich the curriculum and student learning.


Additional Posts:

PS1 and Thematic Curriculum:


Structure in a Progressive Classroom: