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At TPS, Learning Happens Everywhere

At the Philadelphia School, we believe that learning happens EVERYWHERE – in the city, in the country, and in the classroom.

We make sure we get out there and explore learning opportunities at every turn. When lessons are integrated across the curriculum and connected to the real world, children’s motivation, understanding, and retention deepens. Every day, science meets art and robotics meets history. Yesterday’s headline becomes today’s lesson. Outdoor education connects the natural world with our place in it. Our classroom is the city that is our namesake; its neighborhoods, institutions, green spaces, and citizens help us grow and learn. Whether it’s a science lesson at the Wissahickon, a march for social justice at City Hall, or ceramics at The Philadelphia Museum of Art, our students are one with the city. We embrace all it has to offer and look outside of it for new perspectives. It all amounts to understanding our place in the world and how we can positively impact it. When you learn everywhere, you can go anywhere. 

We think outside the books and the classroom. We think outside.

Tenets Of Our Outdoor Learning Program

Students develop a meaningful connection to the natural world. 

Outdoor sites are an extension of the classroom.

Partnerships help ensure program sustainability and authentic stewardship.

We know that from children’s first moments, the world around them is the most powerful and motivating teacher. We give students the chance to sit, hike, listen, and explore with a sense of freedom and solitude. This intimate and personal connection to nature not only encourages our children to become involved and knowledgeable environmental stewards, but also helps them to better understand concepts they learn in the classroom. 

Our outdoor education program incorporates science, math, exploration, discovery, art, and writing, among other academic opportunities. Outdoor lessons often build on concepts begun in the classroom, and observations and data are likewise brought back to school for further reflection. Our students begin their scientific education by focusing on what is familiar – animals, plants, soil, and weather – in order to develop the confidence to grapple with increasingly more abstract and complex concepts. 

Each week in the spring and fall, all TPS students spend time in our “country classroom,” providing them the space to explore and learn from nature. Naturally at The Philadelphia School, we’re committed to using the city’s resources. We recently put more “Philly'' into our weekly outdoor education program and expanded our country classroom to include sites such as The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, Wissahickon Creek, Awbury Arboretum, and Bartram's Garden, among others. 

Our Outdoor education curriculum has earned the President’s Environmental Youth Award and the National Science Teachers Association Award for Excellence in Science Education.

"Country" Classroom

Our name isn’t The Philadelphia School by accident.

"City" Classroom

As the founders of The Philadelphia School intended, Philadelphia is more than our location; it is an extension of our classrooms, a topic of study, and an inspiration for civic engagement. 

In the early grades, our students take walking tours of the neighborhood, sharpening language skills by interviewing the local florist, applying math skills at the neighborhood grocer, and learning about simple machines at the bicycle shop around the corner. As our older children consider such complex ideas as fairness, sustainability, and the role of the arts in society, they meet city officials, social workers, scientists, journalists, architects, artists, actors, and musicians—all working in the city of Philadelphia. These experiences are authentic connections to academic work in math, language arts, science and history, as well as preparation for our students to take active roles in their communities and in our global society.

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