At Princeton Junior School, special subjects are aligned with transdisciplinary units of inquiry and core subject areas including math, literature, social studies, science and the arts whenever possible.
Learning through Landscapes
Learning Through Landscapes (LTL) at Princeton Junior School is an experiential, “place based” program that taps into children’s natural interest in the world around them and enables them to form meaningful connections from their specific community and natural environment to all areas of learning. The LTL Program shows students that we live in a world of interconnected parts and that by exploring these relationships through work and play, we can understand how the world functions. When students look at our local landscape from a “systems” perspective, their understanding of the relationship between place and process becomes more apparent as they observe the changes in seasons, cycles and relationships from the view of our outdoor classroom. When they experience our campus as a context for inquiry and action, our students deepen their understanding of sustainability and environmental stewardship.
Like the IB PYP, Learning Through Landscapes fosters the development of skills (inquiry, exploration, observation, self awareness, self management) and habits of mind (appreciation, caring, compassion, cooperation, empathy, responsibility). The six transdisciplinary themes (Who we are, Where we are in place and time, How we express ourselves, How the world works, How we organize ourselves, and Sharing the planet) naturally integrate the larger concepts and principles of sustainability into the PJS Program of Inquiry, the heart of our curriculum, and virtually all of the central ideas can be examined through a lens of sustainability. In collaboration with classroom teachers and specialists, LTL reinforces and extends learning across disciplines and engages students in contributing to the sustainability of their communities by:
nurturing a sense of wonder, creativity and compassion for nature and community and developing empathy for all forms of life
deepening knowledge of the human and natural communities in which we live
developing an understanding that the world is interconnected, and we all depend on each other
illustrating that individuals have the ability to make a difference and inspiring action
participating in environmental projects that use the school grounds as a lab and connecting with experts to make a lasting impact on the community
developing a perspective of Nature as Teacher
Windows to the World (Library and Technology Integration)
In our library, Windows to the World, PJS students explore what it means to be internationally minded through a lens of multicultural children’s literature. The books in our growing collection provide both windows and mirrors for children, allowing them to reflect on their own cultural experiences but also imagine global experiences beyond their own. By venturing into story worlds, our students gain insights into multiple ways of thinking, living, and being as well as an increased awareness and appreciation of their own cultural identities and the cultural identities of others. The Windows to the World Library Collection:
- helps students to define what it means to be an internationally minded person
- promotes a deep understanding of the IB Learner Profile and Attitudes through children's literature
- introduces students to a variety of genres
- supports exploration of classroom units of inquiry
- promotes love and appreciation of language and stories
- encourages action to create a better and more just world
Feel free to visit the Windows to the World website for your "window" into what PJS students are reading and what is happening in our PJS library.
The Technology Integrationist collaborates with teachers to support inquiry and enhance student learning with technology and empowers teachers to teach with technology that is integrated into the curriculum. Technology integration encompasses a wide range of digital tools and media for teaching, learning and assessing. As students use technology in the context of the Units of Inquiry, they develop a deeper understanding of its relevance and significance in our everyday lives. This collaborative model enhances student learning while providing meaningful opportunities for professional development within the classroom environment. By learning how to navigate and use a set of innovative web tools and iPad applications, technology supports and amplifies the learning of teachers and students, connecting learners, providing an additional "voice" to students in their learning and supporting reflective practice.
Language learning, multilingualism and the development of critical literacy are considered important factors in promoting intercultural awareness and international-mindedness, which are integral to the missions of both the International Baccalaureate Organization and Princeton Junior School. All PJS students have the opportunity to study Spanish.
At PJS we embrace the diversity of languages, cultures and perspectives that our students and their families bring to our learning community, and we believe that exposing students to Spanish and in a positive and supportive learning environment will:
- provide students with basic interpersonal communicative skills
- provide a foundation that will lead to lifelong language learning
- promote an increased awareness of the world and intercultural perspectives
- nurture empathy toward other cultures
- strengthen students’ confidence and willingness to take risks
- increase students’ appreciation and understanding of their native languages
In language classes, the focus is on communication as opposed to how to say or write something in isolation without a meaningful context. By connecting language classes to the school’s program of inquiry when possible and communicating through real life situations that require collaboration with others, language instruction becomes more meaningful and more integrated into the school day. Students not only learn the language, but also content and culture.
Learning through the arts is an organic process at Princeton Junior School, and our academic curriculum is seamlessly integrated into the art, drama, and music programs. Whether through singing, drawing, acting, or studying the history and theory of art, PJS fosters and sustains the innate creativity of each student, while developing an appreciation of the arts from many cultures. Students’ self-awareness, self-expression, and confidence grow tremendously through their participation in the arts at PJS.
The Toddler and Preschool music classes at PJS use the internationally-recognized Music Together Program. This program encourages our youngest students to experience music in a fun and lively way. Creative movement, comprehension of rhythm and beat and an awareness of musical instruments are all cultivated.
Kindergarten-Grade 3 students focus on the development of healthy singing voices and habits by exploring pitch, beat, rhythm and tempo. Various instruments are used to advance existing skills as well as create new ones. Through imaginative play, improvisation, storytelling and literature-based explorations, students enhance their listening skills and creativity. Grades 4-5 students investigate a diverse selection of music styles. Students learn to read music through recorder lessons. Drama and performance opportunities are explored throughout the school year across all grade levels. Each class presents at least one all-school performance during the school year.
The Art Program at PJS is an integral part of our student's education. Through hands-on creativity and experimentation, students develop a personal aesthetic while artistic skills are shaped and strengthened. Through various mediums, students ideas and feelings are expressed, creating an environment for self-reflection and discovery.
PJS students also have the opportunity to experience the arts beyond our campus through community involvement, exhibitions, and museum visits. Field trips to the Metropolitan Musem of Art, the Princeton University Art Museum and participation in Princeton University's "Art from Trash" competition are just a few examples of the off-campus opportunities our students enjoy.
Personal, Social, and Physical Education (PSPE)
Physical Education at Princeton Junior School emphasizes the benefits and joy of being physically active, the development of age appropriate movement skills as well as sportsmanlike conduct. The children learn to approach a variety of cooperative games and skill building exercises with energy, resilience and mutual respect. Coaches work with the students to blend their varying styles and abilities into a cohesive group with common goals.