FAQ




  • What programs do you offer at WCS?
  • How are academics addressed at WCS?
  • What is the WCS curriculum?
  • Do you really believe that children will learn to read and write and add and subtract if they aren't forced to practice at school and with homework?
  • Why do you not have homework?
  • Do you ever give tests, quizzes or report cards?  How do you assess where the child stands?
  • If I decide to take my child out of WCS and place her in a more traditional school setting how will I know she will be able to handle it?
  • How can children transfer to a more traditional school if they don't have grades or report cards?
  • Are children given enough structure during the day at WCS?
  • Why are there multi-age classes and not grades at WCS?
  • Why do children have the same teacher for several years in a row?
  • How will my child develop socially in such a small environment?
  • How do you deal with food allergies?
  • From what geographic areas do WCS students come?
  • What is the tuition?
  • How do I apply?



What programs do you offer at WCS?


Nursery
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 9:00-12:30 


Ages: 3s and 4s

Our program revolves around imaginative play, outdoor exploration, self-care and learning to be individuals within a community. This time focuses on using our senses, hands, voices, and imaginations to interact with and learn from our environment. Children are guided gently through experiences of socialization and introduced to win/win conflict resolution practices.
Primary I (5s), Monday and Tuesday, 9:00-2:30, Wednesday and Thursday, 9:00-12:30
Primary II (6s), Monday - Thursday, 9:00-2:30

Through nature-oriented projects, observation, reflection, song, movement and ritual, children experience their abilities and are encouraged to grow and discover across the spectrum of multiple intelligences. Facilitators’ introduction and children’s natural curiosities give way to explorations in language, math and science.
Elementary (1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Grades) , Monday - Friday, 9:00-2:30

Facilitators and students co-create multi-dimensional studies of varying length and magnitude. Using the real world as part of our classroom, students develop their aptitudes and skills organically. In order to engage a child across multiple intelligences, we use a rich variety of methods to learn about traditional academic subject matter. Every day, we encourage problem solving, critical and creative thinking, care for the environment and community building.

We rely upon regular observation and narrative description to witness and support a child’s growth. We do not use tests or grades as measures of success.

We regard the ability to assess each child’s readiness for academic concepts and skills as central to our philosophy and meet with the child and parents to best determine the placement of each child into an appropriate program.

Wellspring Community School accepts all students on a provisional basis and if at any time the faculty and staff find that the school’s collective resources do not sufficiently serve the child’s emotional and educational needs, we reserve the right to advise the family to seek more appropriate educational opportunities for their child.



How are academics addressed at WCS?
In a world where information is readily available and advances in knowledge are made at such a rapid pace, we believe that children are better served by knowing how to learn than by learning facts and figures by rote.
We address all major academic subjects - reading, math, social studies, science - through an integrated approach.  Our facilitators keep an eye on the state standards in each of these areas while designing experiences that address learning objectives in a way that is meaningful and inspiring to students.  In this way, children’s motivation is high and they readily learn the information they need to know while also developing creativity and critical thinking skills, the ability to work as a member of a team, and familiarity with different problem-solving strategies. 

What is the WCS curriculum?
Our facilitators have an intimate knowledge of state academic standards and have curriculum resources to support them in their planning.  However, our classroom work is emergent, meaning that the children and the facilitators work together to create meaningful and inspiring learning opportunities.  As “teachable moments” arise, they are seized and nurtured rather than being glossed over in an effort to achieve a certain teaching objective.
Instead of using worksheets and repetition to reinforce concepts that are developed during classroom work, facilitators are constantly seeking real-life ways to practice academic skills.  For example, after learning about short and long vowel sounds, our Elementary 1 class took a walk around the neighborhood and identified such sounds on signs and fliers posted around town.  

Do you really believe that children will learn to read and write and add and subtract if they aren't forced to practice at school and with homework?
Without a doubt. Just as children learn such complicated tasks as walking and talking without being forced, children learn other daily tasks such as reading, writing and arithmetic by learning from adults, modeling their peers, and practicing at their own pace.

Why do you not have homework?
We value the primary attachments of children and see afterschool time as time for family, rest, additional activity, imagination and friends. We do not assign homework for these reasons. However, if a child is particularly excited about a project the facilitator may make suggestions about what he could do at home.
Do you ever give tests, quizzes or report cards?  How do you assess where the child stands?
We do not use tests, grades, worksheets, homework or competitive/comparative evaluations as measures of success. Insofar as tests are geared towards measuring fact retention and are biased toward people who have strong linguistic intelligence, we do not think they are useful for measuring the type of learning we are interested in.
Instead, we utilize an in-depth narrative process to observe, describe and record all aspects of a student's life and work at the school. This method gives us a year-long narrative to assist staff, student and family in understanding and discussing ways to foster each child's growth and development at the school. Scheduled during the year are two Parent-Facilitator Conversations, which are times to update parents on their child's progress.

If I decide to take my child out of WCS and place her in a more traditional school setting how will I know she will be able to handle it?
Children who have been educated in schools like Wellspring tend to adapt well into any environment. They may not have the same knowledge base as children in a public school, for example, but they have the skills to quickly and efficiently  learn what they need to know in order to succeed.  Having had opportunities to explore problem solving, conflict resolution, critical thinking and leadership in a supportive, challenging environment, children have little trouble transitioning to a new setting.
For individual children, there may be some initial adjustment adjusting to the traditional school setting where they are expected to sit at a desk, do homework, and take tests, but then they tend not to have any problems learning along with their peers.
How can children transfer to a more traditional school if they don't have grades or report cards?
Given our narrative descriptive process, a child's new school is provided with more in-depth information about the child than grades or a typical report card could provide.

Are children given enough structure during the day at WCS?
We always maintain a spirit of flexibility so that if an opportunity arises for meaningful learning to occur, we are in a position to seize it.
The younger the child, the more freedom she has, and the more support she receives from the adults in the classroom in making choices.  As the children get older and they begin to do more serious and focused work, they have more structure to their days, and they are asked to work more independently as they develop their interests and learning styles.

Why are there multi-age classes and not grades at WCS?
Our experience supports the research, which clearly shows academic and social benefits to multi-age classes.  Children are empowered as learners as they share their knowledge with their younger friends as well as modeling the work their older friends are doing.  Without the expectation that all students in a particular class must achieve a certain degree of academic achievement by a certain date, there is a significant reduction in bullying behavior and cliques, while self-esteem and motivation are increased.
Why do children have the same teacher for several years in a row?
Again, research has found that when children have the same teacher for a number of years (“looping”), classroom interactions become more efficient because everyone knows what to expect from each other.  Additionally, it eliminates the need to spend time in September getting to know each other and establishing new classroom cultures, and in June while teachers rush to wrap things up in preparation for the students’ moves to a different class.  With looping, the facilitators get to know each student’s personality, work habits, individual strengths and opportunities for growth more than would be possible for a new teacher each year. The level of trust that develops enables everyone to learn from each other in profound ways.

How will my child develop socially in such a small environment?
At Wellspring, all children interact on a daily basis with every other child and every staff member in the school.  Additionally, we frequently welcome visiting artists, outside educators, parents and grandparents into the school, so our students have far more in-depth interactions with more, and more diverse, people each day than the average student in a larger school.
Additionally, the small and consistent environment allows our children to develop deep and meaningful relationships with each other.  We take the idea of “community” very seriously, and we encourage the children to interact with each other, learn together, play together, and find constructive ways to solve conflicts together.  Our facilitators and staff make it their top priority to maintain a healthy and positive school environment for our students.

How do you deal with food allergies?
All staff members are aware of all food issues, and they all receive training on any special procedures that may be required (i.e. Epi pen administration).  In the case of severe food allergies or anyphlaxis, children are placed at lunch time away from children with the offending food in their lunches while still remaining part of the group.  The nature of our community is such that parents usually make every effort to refrain from including dangerous foods in their children’s lunches.  For special occasions, most parents with food-allergic children provide their own snacks.  If you have any further concerns, we are happy to work with you and eager to make Wellspring a safe place for all our students.

From what geographic areas do WCS students come?
Students come to Wellspring from our own Somerset County, and others including Morris, Union, Hunterdon and Essex counties.
What is the tuition?
For the 2011 - 2012 school year, the tuition is as follows:
Nursery $5,500
Primary 1 $8,300
Primary 2 $9,700
Elementary $10,700
There are discounts available for families enrolling multiple students and early tuition payment.
How do I apply?
Families are required to arrange a school visit with their children during school hours prior to submitting an application.  There is a non-refundable application fee.  Please contact us at 908.470.0004 or info@thewellspringschool.org to arrange a visit or for more information.





(c) Wellspring Community School 2011