Helios School’s rich and complex curriculum fosters not only the development of the intellect, but the social and emotional life of our students, as well.
Gifted children have little need for rote learning; they need to be actively solving problems, making connections and using their imaginations. Helios offers a rich, interconnected curriculum that provokes deep thinking, provides a real-world context, and produces meaning. We teach in mixed-grade classrooms and regularly organize students into small ability groups to ensure that students are appropriately challenged.
We develop our curriculum around “Expeditions”, themes that students investigate for a full semester. Examples of recent Expeditions are the Italian Renaissance, Biomimicry and Mission to Mars. Every semester, Expeditions begin with a special event that introduces the theme and piques our students’ interest. For the Mission to Mars Expedition, students toured the NASA Ames Research Center with a Helios Parent who works there as a Rocket Scientist specializing in Mars research.
Once hooked on the topic, students explore it from many angles, and in the process learn new skills in language arts, science, humanities, reading, and writing. They apply these new skills and their new-found knowledge in a variety of projects to demonstrate what they’ve learned. At the end of a semester of discovery and skill-building, they share what they have learned with family and friends in a Celebration of Learning. To wrap up our Renaissance Expedition, for example, students hosted a Renaissance Fair complete with performances, demonstrations and handicrafts. Children’s sense of pride and ownership of their learning is obvious as they explain their artifacts during the Celebrations of Learning.
In addition to their Expedition work, students participate in math class daily, where they are grouped according to ability rather than grade. Students also have the choice of Art or a World Language (i.e., Spanish, Mandarin Chinese), and beginning in third grade, an extra elective. We provide physical education and time in our maker’s space, Imagine Lab, each week. Helios takes learning beyond the classroom with regular fieldwork and camping trips. Finally, woven throughout all of these experiences is a customized social-emotional curriculum that helps gifted students manage their intense natures and better understand themselves and others.
Whether on campus or away from school, our students engage deeply in learning, expressing passion and eagerness to advance their knowledge about themselves and the world around them.
"Perhaps the best testament to the impact Helios has had on our kids is seeing their joy and enthusiasm to go to school every morning and how, during school breaks, all they can talk about is getting back to school and their friends. We feel very fortunate to have found Helios."
- Helios Parent