How is a typical day structured?
School hours are 8:45 AM to 3:15 PM. The day is structured around classes. The homeroom teachers plan the day for their homeroom. They decide when to schedule each class, how long it is going to last and how to group the children in each class. Each homeroom also has Art, Music, and Spanish once a week with the Art, Music, and Spanish teachers. There is a break time in the morning when children may have a snack and play. Lunch is about 12 noon and includes time for play.
How are the groups and classes organized?
We have four multi-age homeroom groups. Each group has a 2 – 3 year age span. There is overlap age-wise and academically between the groups so children can be placed appropriately academically, socially and emotionally. Each homeroom group has about 22 – 24 children and 2 teachers who work with them. The younger age groups also have assistant teachers. The homeroom group is divided into smaller groups for classes so there are usually 8 – 12 children in a class group. Some activities, such as science, social studies, etc., have all of the children and both teachers working together. This arrangement enables us to have small academic classes but still gives the children a large enough social group to foster social development.
What is your curriculum?
We have a customized, child-centered, activity-based curriculum. While keeping in mind the skills and concepts that are appropriate for the age group, we plan activities based on the level and ability of the group. We also use the children’s interests and natural play activities to teach skills and concepts. We have lots of books and resource materials, but we do not use textbooks. See How Children Learn.
How do you evaluate the children?
We believe that if a child is working hard and doing her best, she should feel successful regardless of what other children her age are doing. When there are only 8 -12 children in a class the teacher knows what every child is doing all of the time. We constantly monitor, guide, and challenge or assist the children in every subject every day. Each step is mastered before going on to the next. We don’t have to give them a test every few weeks to find out where they are. See Assessment.
How do the parents know what their children are doing and how well they are doing?
We schedule at least 2 conferences each year, more if either the teachers or parents think it necessary. The teachers fill out a brief evaluation sheet that is given to the parents at this time. We also do a comprehensive end-of-the-year written report which details what was done in the various subject areas in general and how your child did in each area. This gives you a lot more information than would be communicated by a simple grade.
Do you have art, music, computers, etc.?
Yes. There are computers in all of the homerooms. Art, music, and drama are incorporated on a regular basis as part of our integrated curriculum. We also have an art teacher who teaches art history as well as skills and techniques with a variety of media. Opportunities for performing are offered and every child is included who wishes to be included. We have a middle school chorus, two concerts per year, and a winter and spring play. We also do things such as cooking, woodworking and arts and crafts. We take field trips and invite people from the community to speak to and work with the children. We have gym classes, but we do not have a competitive sports program. The older children go on overnight camping trips and the 7th and 8th grade homeroom spends a week at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center each fall.
Where do your graduates go to high school? Can they get into other private schools without a history of grades?
NCCL was founded in 1971 so the high schools in the area are familiar with our children and how well prepared they are. When a child applies to a high school, we provide the school with copies of the child’s end-of-the-year reports. Most of the private schools have questionnaires that we fill out as well. Although we don’t use standardized tests, we give the older children practice taking them so that they will feel comfortable taking admissions or placement tests. See Graduation Anxiety, But Are They Working Hard Enough? and What about High School?
Some of the high schools our graduates have attended:
A.I. DuPont High School, Appoquinimink High School, Archmere Academy, Avon Grove Charter School, Avon Grove High School, Bohemia Manor High School, Cab Calloway School of the Arts, Campus Community School, Charter School of Wilmington, Conrad Schools of Science, Delaware Military Academy, Delaware Academy for Public Safety and Security, Del Castle Vo-Tech High School,Delaware Design Lab, Glasgow High School, Hodgson Vo-Tech High School, Kennett High School, Centreville Layton Preparatory School, Middletown High School, MOT Charter School, Newark High School, Newark High School Cambridge Program, North East High School, Padua Academy, Rising Sun High School, Salesianum School, St. Andrew’s Academy, St. Elizabeth High School, St. Mark’s High School, Sanford High School, The Stone School, Tatnall High School, The Tome School, West Nottingham Academy, Wilmington Charter School, Wilmington Christian School, Wilmington Friends School, and William Penn High School.
How do your graduates adjust to a traditional school?
It depends on the child. Some children will find the adjustment harder to make than others. But, the older a child is when he or she has to make the adjustment to the traditional system the easier that adjustment is. We are very aware that we are preparing the children for high school. We teach them all of the skills that they will need, such as taking notes, writing reports, taking classroom tests and standardized tests, etc. Classroom tests are not graded but they are corrected so that the children can see how they did and what they need to work on. Graduates do a research report in which the present their information in three different genres.
What are your teachers’ qualifications?
Please see our teacher profiles.
Is there a book fee?
Are there other expenses?
Students may be required to purchase certain supplies, but most school supplies such as pencils, paper, markers, glue, scissors, etc., are provided by the school. There may occasionally be a small fee for materials for special classes or activities and field trips. There is a Trip Fund available for those who need financial assistance to pay for trips.
Are uniforms required?
No. Sturdy play clothes are recommended.
Do you provide lunch?
No. Everyone brings his or her own food for snack and lunch.
Do you provide bus service?
No. We have a small number of families spread over a wide geographic area, so a bus is not practical. We do provide a list of families and addresses to facilitate carpool arrangements. If you are a Pennsylvania resident, you have a free bussing option available to you through your home district.
Do you have an extended care program?
Yes. It runs from 7 AM to 8:30 AM and 3:15 PM to 6 PM. A snack is provided at 3:15. Extended care is available on a contracted basis or a “drop-in” basis for those who only need it occasionally. Half-day Friday care is included for contracted children.
Care is not available on snow days or inservice days. Claire Marshall is the director of the program and can be reached at Claire@ncclschool.org.