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At The Orchard Academy at Camp Harmony, our students’ education does not simply stop at academic readiness – we prepare children to enter the greater world armed also with those intangible skills that are finding themselves, unfortunately, more and more marginalized throughout mainstream education.  With an ever-growing emphasis on preparedness for a standardized testing and strict academics, never before have the Arts played such an important role in our students’ early childhood experiences.  Creativity, self-exploration, fine motor development, problem solving – all essential skills that, without question, arise from an education that places an unwavering emphasis on the Arts.

At the ages of our early learners, there can be no compromise as to the importance of these lifelong skills.  To allow for this, The Orchard Academy wraps our Arts program into the daily schedules of our students, providing a true integration of these areas into the daily curriculum and educational experiences of our children.  Classroom teachers work side-by-side with specialized Arts educators to ensure that our long term four to six week Studies are being reinforced throughout the entire day.  (To learn more about our curriculum, including Studies, click here.)


Not Enrichment, A Part of Our Curriculum

The Arts program at TOA isn’t simply enrichment – it’s a part of our curriculum.  Through our team of outstanding Arts educators, lessons are developed using the same standards as our academic programs including differentiation for appropriate ages and developmental abilities.  Just as our classroom teachers approach literacy and mathematics, Arts educators constantly observe their students to ensure skill development and growth.


Specialized Areas, Specialized Experiences

It’s simple – we love our campus! With over 25 acres and state-of-the-art educational space, The Orchard Academy is able to give our children the kind of specialized experience that an Arts program deserves. Instead of sharing in-classroom space or rolling a cart from room-to-room, each Arts area has its own space dedicated to and created for that specific program. Yoga and Dance each have their own studios inside our Gymnasium building which also houses our separate Gymnastics room for Movement complete with wall-to-wall padding and elements for all ages. What better place to create music than our own Music Room which is filled with instruments, floor space, and a 5 foot grand piano! And students will learn to create masterpieces in our Art Room filled with tons of creative space and every art implement, from crayons to markers to paint.


Save Time, Energy and Schedules

With weekly periods of Yoga, Movement, Music, Dance and more already weaved throughout your children’s daily schedules, we also seek to save parents from needlessly shuttling around during afternoons and evenings for similar programs.  Allow The Orchard Academy at Camp Harmony to be your dance studio, gymnastics center or music lessons – all wrapped into one.  Our program gives your children a little taste of everything and allows you, the parents, to focus your extracurricular energies on those areas that peak interests.

We invite you to explore this page further to learn about our different Arts areas. In addition, be sure to visit our Education & Arts Staff page to learn about the professionals who bring so much to our students.


Yoga

The benefits of yoga for children are endless. Postures create stronger body and spatial awareness, while improving flexibility, strength and coordination. Breathing techniques help relieve stress and promote relaxation and self-regulation. Yoga also helps to improve a child’s interpersonal skills, self-esteem and emotional balance. And, like The Orchard Academy, yoga encourages community and harmony within our children and in the world around us.

To Learn more about our Yoga educator, click here.


Art

Art is an integral part of the early years.  For the youngest children it is a way for them to explore, be creative, get messy, express themselves, be inspired, develop small and large muscles, learn new vocabulary, and so much more.  Over time they learn to use those materials and tools for purposeful discovery.  Art can be one of the many languages children have to represent what they are interested in, what they want to know more about, or what they have learned.  They take risks, observe, evaluate, use problem-solving and critical thinking skills, make decisions, find solutions and hopefully never lose their sense of awe and wonder with world. 

The Orchard Academy curriculum integrates learning throughout all areas. The art program is one of many vehicles for exploring and learning about a topic of study.  Children’s learning will be both wide and deep, and they will find their unique way of making meaning.  And they will have fun!

“Learning in the arts is of unique educational value… learning about the arts is learning about the rich world of sensation, emotion, and personal expression surrounding us each day… learning through the arts has the potential to enhance one’s general motivation to learn and to develop one’s respect for a disciplined approach to learning.” (American Council for the Arts in Education)

To Learn more about our Art educator, click here.


Dance

Dance should be a joyful learning experience for all ages. “It is one of the most innate and primal relationships that an individual can have to the universe. For children, dance serves as a pre-verbal skill that is achieved before words can even be formed” (National Dance Education Organization). It is a powerful ally for developing many of the attributes of a growing child. This natural method for learning and basic form of cultural expression, not only possesses physical benefits, but emotional, social, and cognitive learning experiences.

The Orchard Academy will provide students with a positive and unique learning experience while fostering their love for movement and dance. Students will be exposed to locomotive movements and activities that will aid in achieving better posture, alignment, balance and coordination while encouraging them to become more comfortable and confident in their own skin. Through the use of creative movement in a structured outlet, students will experience the beauty and euphoria that dance provides while achieving a greater and stronger sense of self.

To Learn more about our Dance educator, click here.


Music

Music is a rich part of the human existence, to which all people can relate. Exposure to music at an early age is a wonderful way to foster creativity, confidence and overall physical and mental development. Making music in an inspiring and nurturing environment allows children to express themselves and release energy in a positive way.

Music at the Orchard Academy will provide the students a space to grow through singing, listening, playing and movement.

To Learn more about our Music educator, click here.


Movement & Play

In his 2007 book, The Power of Play, David Elkind find that over the last 20 years, children have lost 12 hours of free time per week with 8 of those lost hours once dedicated to unstructured play and physical activity. At the same time, the number of minutes children devote as a passive spectator have increased five-fold from 30 minutes per week to over 3 hours. The results are simple: children don’t know how to play! They suffer from atrophy in their creativity, ability to be spontaneous, to exercise their imaginations and a drop-off in their predisposition for fantasy.

The Orchard Academy at Camp Harmony sees this deficiency and seeks to correct this downward trend! Play is stressed, both structured and unstructured, throughout the day – not just in a quick recess period.

Peg Smith, CEO of the American Camp Association, comments, “While we might view free, unstructured play as frivolous, researchers know it’s anything but! Important socialization and maturation processes take place during unstructured play, when kids are able to cooperate, make mistakes, reflect, and explore. Not to mention — getting off the couch and moving around during play helps children reach their recommended sixty minutes of activity time per day.”

Movement & Play is taught as a structured Play period, modeling a sort of “intro to Physical Education”. Students explore our 500 sq. ft. Gym, Gymnastics Room and other spaces around the campus to learn more about their bodies, personal space and how to interact with one another.

To Learn more about our Movement & Play educator, click here.


Cooking

“Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy”, once remarked Craig Claiborne. Building a love for cooking at a young age sets our children up for a lifetime of healthy eating habits and a love for sustainable, homemade foods.

Hands-on cooking activities help children develop pride and confidence in their skills and abilities. The act of following a recipe can encourage self-direction and independence, while also teaching children to follow directions and use thinking skills to problem solve. Fine motor development is reinforced through things like chopping, squeezing, spreading, and mixing.

Cooking inspires children’s curiosity, thinking, and problem solving, offering new opportunities to make predictions and observations. Additionally, cooking offers authentic opportunities for students to understand and apply their knowledge of measuring, one-to-one correspondence, numbers, and counting. As they follow a recipe, children organize ingredients, follow a sequence, and carry out multiple directions. With its own vocabulary, cooking is a great opportunity for language development.

World Language & Culture

¡Hola Mundo! Hello World! Welcome! ¡Bienvenido! to the Spanish World Language Program at The Orchard Academy.

Our ¡Hola Mundo! is a semi-immersion Spanish Language Arts program for some of our older students in our Cedars (4s) and Redwoods (Kindergarten) classes. Our goal is for the children to have fun while learning songs, everyday greetings, rhymes, numbers, and colors in Spanish. To accomplish this, the children will engage in movement & dance, music, art projects, technology and games to enhance their learning experience.

The ¡Hola Mundo! Spanish Language Program will also complement ongoing TOA Study Units. The children will learn about the same topics in Spanish. To promote the immersion process, the children will be encouraged to actively use their new Spanish vocabulary while at school and at home with their families!

Of overarching importance for early childhood learners is less focus on language comprehension and syntax and more about the concept of language in general – that different people from different cultures all communicate in different ways!  To fulfill the cultural component of our program, the children will participate in a once-a-month ‘Let’s Travel’ – ‘Viajemos’ segment to learn about and explore a Spanish speaking country. This will offer the children an opportunity to expand their cultural understanding of our friends and neighbors in Spain, Mexico, South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. We will read stories about each country we explore. We will also learn about its people, its food, its map and flag. The children will make souvenirs for each country they visit; and track their ‘travels’ – ‘viajes’ in their own TOA issued Passports.

To Learn more about our World Language educator, click here.


Ecology

Young children wonder about the world around them. They think to themselves: "What will happen if I push this button?", "What does the bunny feels like?", "Why did my plant die?", "How I can make a bigger bubble?" Ecology is a place to find the answers to questions like these. It is a place to spark children's curiosity by offering interesting materials and a connection to the greater outside world. In Ecology, children use their senses to touch, feel, taste, smell, and see. They act on objects and observe what happens and respond by investigating and exploring.

Based in “Flo’s Garden”, our 300 sq. ft. outdoor living garden and our indoor Ecology “laboratory”, our children are encouraged to get their hands dirty! Our students learn to work together as they explore, make discoveries, and solve problems. They take care of living things and see the entire life cycle – from planting a seed to nurturing it into a living thing to harvesting the fruits, vegetables and herbs which then to right to our kitchen for lunch or Cooking!

Equally as important, when children make discoveries, they are eager to share their excitement with others. They want to talk about their investigations, ask questions, and share experiences. They use new words to describe how things look, touch, taste, smell, and sound. They watch plants and animals with great curiosity and make predictions about how they change, move, and react to different conditions. Children organize information by classifying, comparing, measuring, and counting objects.

Most of all, Ecology takes advantage of our full 25 acre campus for everything from nature hikes to scavenger hunts. The connection to the greater world around them lets our students grow up in an environment where they know they’re a part of something bigger than themselves!

To Learn more about our Ecology educator, click here.


Drama & Imagination

Dramatic play is central to children's healthy development and learning during the preschool years. Creativity is imbued in everything we do – from shows to classroom dress-up – and our halls are filled with staff who encourage students to exercise their most important muscle to build imagination, their brain.

Children explore their experiences by pretending to be someone or something different from themselves. They make up situations and actions that go along with the roles they choose. When children engage in dramatic play, they deepen their understanding of the world and develop skills that will serve them throughout their lives.

To engage in organized dramatic play with others, children have to negotiate roles, agree on a topic, and cooperate to portray different situations. They recreate life experiences and try to cope with their emotions by acting out roles and situations that interest them. Research shows that children who engage in dramatic play tend to demonstrate more empathy toward others because they have tried out being someone else for a while. They have the skills to cooperate with peers, control impulses, and are less aggressive than children who do not engage in this type of play.

The physical aspects are endless, from fine motor development of things like buttoning and snapping costumes to the eye-hand coordination when they use props and materials. But most important is the imagination muscle. When they pretend, children create pictures in their minds about past experiences and the situations they imagine. These images are a form of abstract thinking. They learn from one another as they share ideas and solve problems together and in the end, know they can be whoever they want to be!

To Learn more about our Drama & Imagination educator, click here.