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Whole Child Education focuses on three main ideas, the development of the social, emotional and cognitive needs of the child.  As such, Bridges Charter School strives to meet the needs of our children through various instructional ideas, social skill development strategies and relationship building between children and adults on campus.  The following theories are just some of the researchers that our foundational philosophies are based upon;


  • Fostering positive interpersonal relationships is essential to developing independence and confidence. To this end, “emotional intelligence” (EQ) is a stronger indicator of human success and confidence than IQ. The development of character qualities that develop one’s emotional intelligence is paramount to Whole Child education. Emotionally intelligent children are better able to learn academically (Goleman, 1995).
  • The ability to communicate compassionately and empathetically with others is fundamental in building respectful, long-lasting relationships and is fundamental to successful integration into society at large. The daily practice of conflict resolution is a necessary skill and is integral element of our BRIDGES Charter School. We teach and practice conflict resolution skills throughout the day and in Circle, our forum for conflict resolution and mediated communication. As teachers, we model these skills for our students; parents further develop their conflict resolution ability through ongoing parent education (Rosenberg, 2003)
  • The student must learn interactively and is not a vessel to be filled with facts. Children need opportunities to explore, manipulate, experiment, question, and seek answers, and the teacher must have confidence in the child’s ability to do so. In constructivist learning, intelligence grows through the twin processes of assimilation and accommodation, whereby children build upon their experiential understanding of events, materials, and subject matter. Therefore, we will build upon what children already know, and provide many opportunities for children to actively engage in their learning (Piaget, 1929, 1951).
  • Social interactions make up our culture, and our culture shapes our cognition. Within the socio-cultural perspective is the idea of scaffolding, whereby the learner is provided clues and hints in order to solve problems and that, given appropriate help, the child can perform challenging tasks. Guided discovery in the classroom involves the teacher posing intriguing questions, offering feedback, and providing opportunities for students to learn and master the necessary tools they need to be successful (Vygotsky, 1978).
  • Art, music, invention and play are necessary components to education. The brain must be fully stimulated through the mastery of six “high-concept, high-touch” abilities essential to professional success and personal fulfillment: design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning. We will honor and promote the attention to a child’s ability and desire to be creative and exploratory, and provide environments most conducive for optimal brain development (Pink, 2005).
  • Diverse learners must be provided with diverging pathways that lead to their success. Thus our curriculum will maintain rigorous standards while permitting innovation and creativity in curriculum choices, and will maintain the flexibility to allow highly specialized minds to prepare for a productive adulthood. In addition, our assessments will take into consideration the premise that different minds can show what they know in different ways. We reject the traditional paradigms that focus on exposing and fixing a student’s deficits, while neglecting the student’s latent or blatant talents (Levine, 2002).
  • Differentiation within clusters can provide the extra scaffolding needed for optimal understanding of a subject, via the support of peers and adults. We will focus on a differentiated model rather than on an individualized model when preparing for the needs of our students. Differentiation in our classrooms will facilitate the understanding of ideas and the application of skills so that students develop frameworks of meaning, which allow them to retain and transfer what they study. We will find “zones” in which students cluster, so that on any particular day, we may offer several routes to a goal- instead of 30routes, as an “individualized” model would suggest (an individualized model being one in which it is expected that every child has his or her specific needs met) (Tomlin, 2002).
  • The avoidance of humiliation and public embarrassment will be of paramount importance. Thus, in order to fulfill our school’s vision of positive, respectful and peaceful collaboration, discipline practices will focus on proactive resolutions and the understanding of natural consequences (Levine, 2002).
  • Collaboration and cooperation promote higher achievement and lead to greater results and fulfillment than competition. It is a waste of one’s energy to prevent another from winning, thereby lowering individual and group productivity. We seek to change the competitive nature of society by fostering a sense of true community in our classrooms (Kohn, 2006).
  • Most human behavior is chosen. According to Choice Theory (a book by William Glasser), the present psychology of most people in the world is that we can only get what we want through external control, when in actuality external control is destructive to relationships. Therefore, we will teach, model, and practice necessary skills in communication and building of our community in order to address our commitment to connect to one another and the world around us (Glasser, 1999).
  • Students think and learn differently, and express their intelligence in a multitude of ways. Thus, we will consider a student’s intellectual and affective learning style in order to maximize his or her learning. The Multiple Intelligence Theory defines eight separate intellectual domains: verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical, spatial, musical, body/kinesthetic, intrapersonal, interpersonal and naturalist (Gardner, 1993).
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