The goal of Ricks Center in the Primary years is to empower children to become life-long learners. Ricks teachers want to excite, encourage and strengthen each child's power for and love of learning.
The Primary level consists of six multi-age classrooms: three 1st and 2nd grade multi-age classes and three 3rd and 4th grade multi-age classrooms. The classrooms are created in a manner that reflects the firm belief that each and every child has a right to an appropriate and developmentally exciting learning environment that addresses the specific needs of gifted children.
The multi-age classrooms are filled with diverse ages, talents and abilities and allow children to recognize their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as recognize and accept other children's gifts. The children have many opportunities to work in small groups that are tailored to match the needs and abilities of each child. This atmosphere provides children with a safe haven to experiment and take risks and continue to grow and change as they assume a variety of leadership roles. The classrooms allow children to interact with one another based on interests, talents and maturity level rather than the single criterion of age.
Integrated units come to life in the Primary classrooms, as each room focuses on three
different, extensive units for the year. Classrooms spend up to 16 weeks delving into
one topic, exploring the unit through language arts, science, social studies, math,
and the community. Authentic learning is a critical component of the Ricks model.
Students are architects, scientists, explorers, reporters, and much more as they journey
each day through learning opportunities.
Within each of the units of study, teachers incorporate the building blocks of learning. As teachers read through student journals and written work, he/she identifies areas of spelling and grammar that need to be addressed, which are then tackled individually, in small groups, or in whole class lessons. Students spend a portion of each week learning writing and math skills that are not incorporated into the integrated unit.
Specialist teachers in the fields of art, drama, Latin, Spanish, music, technology and physical education provide the children with a rich and diverse scope of learning that enhances the work done in their daily classrooms.
Upper Primary Specials
In 3rd and 4th grade, students' Specials classes are organized in a Matrix Model that allows for Specials to be chosen by the student. Students continue to have focused time with the art and mythology specialist; however, matrix classes allow students to take focused classes in French, Spanish, Latin, music, art, science, math exploration, journalism, and science.
The Matrix Model allows for more individualized levels of interest, ability and experience in all special areas, as well as greater opportunities for the development of school community as students interact across ages and classrooms. Students are encouraged to pursue their areas of passion and to take risks by exploring new content and skills. In order to help guide students in selecting a diverse class list of Matrix, teachers use a list of requirements to remind students of the classes they may still need to take while providing an opportunity to try something new.
Requirements for each year in Upper Primary include:
- 1 year of a spoken language (either Spanish or English and can switch for the next year)
- 1 fine arts
- 1 music
- 1 technology (typing class for younger students)
- 1 science