The Sand Hill Approach

Because Sand Hill students learn differently, we teach differently.

Many interdependent elements go into what we call The Sand Hill Approach. Leading with student strengths, the expert teaching staff uses evidence-based curriculum paired with instructional practices that are based on the latest neuroscience to deliver intensive academics tailored to each student’s level. We enrich the program with regular opportunities for students to explore visual and performing arts. We also offer experiences with science that include engineering, technology and architecture and having an entrepreneurial mindset. Students are supported by our speech and language and occupational therapists who work seamlessly with the teachers to further each student’s personalized program. Daily direct instruction in social emotional learning, strategies for executive functioning, and access to assistive technology shape confident and resilient learners who are successful in school, at home and in life.

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The What

1. Evidence-based Curriculum

Teachers use evidence-based programs across all curriculum areas to ensure that learners with language-based learning differences have the greatest opportunity to succeed.

  • Reading instruction: Fundations® and Wilson Reading System®
  • Mathematics: Eureka Math, Making Math Real, and Spatial-Temporal Math
  • Writing: Step Up to Writing® (Sopris West®)
  • Executive Functioning: Smart (RESEARCHILD), Executive Functions Curriculum (School Specialty)
  • Social Emotional Learning: PATHS® (Channing-Bete)

The What

2. Academic Learning That Begins with Strengths

At Sand Hill, we begin with your child’s strengths and interests and go from there. The academic program, delivered in a way that respects your child’s unique learning style, includes reading/language arts, writing, math, science, history/social studies, visual and performing arts and P.E. Additionally, Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Executive Functioning (EF) are embedded across all subject areas. Because Sand Hill students will transition to more typical classrooms where they will be required to meet standards, the approach supports academic and content standards but is not driven by them. The approach uses developmentally appropriate practices, encouraging children to develop at their own pace, fill in gaps when necessary and learn specific strategies to address challenges. With a solid foundation, students become more able to approach grade level tasks with greater confidence.

The What

3. Executive Functioning Skills

Instruction in Executive Functioning (EF) is an important part of the Sand Hill Approach. We directly and explicitly teach our students EF skills as tools for learning. These include: planning, organization, memory, time management and flexible thinking. We also teach things like how to organize a binder, how to set goals, learning how to learn, and how to reflect on learning.

The What

4. Social Emotional Skills

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is a powerful component of the Sand Hill Approach. We directly and explicitly teach our students SEL strategies such as self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills, and tools for responsible decision-making, and we help our students apply those strategies throughout the school day.

The How

5. Expert Staff of Teachers and Child Development Specialists

Our empathetic teachers and specialists are the heart of the school. With years of experience and specific training in working with language-based learning differences, such as such as dyslexia, our teachers use state of the art teaching practices with a compassionate touch tailored to each individual child. Occupational Speech Therapists and Speech and Language Therapists push in to the classrooms on a regular basis and co-teach with the teaching staff.

The How

6. Best Practices

Teaching practices at Sand Hill School are based on research and evidence balanced with years of professional experience. A component of every student’s program is project-based learning. Small group instruction includes personalization that is structured but flexible, developmentally appropriate, and multi-sensory. A longer school year gives students more time to absorb learning.

The How

7. Technology Support and Family Partnership

We use technology both to support student learning and as a strategy/tool for learning. Each student in in 3rd grade and above has a laptop and iPad loaded with software and apps that become tools for learning. Family commitment and partnership are essential to the Sand Hill Edge. Activities include parent education, PTO, involvement in school activities and fundraising.

The Result

Kids learn to love school again. They feel more confident, they make friends and they develop valuable strategies for learning. Parents learn to breathe again because their child is excited to go to school and because they know their child’s teacher is invested in their child.