Creating Oneself As An Individual:
Extracurriculars as Personal Choice and Enrichment
Extracurricular activities at LePort play a key role in our goal of helping children develop a strong sense of personal identity – of creating themselves as individuals.
We view a strong core curriculum as a prerequisite for optional extracurricular programs: Just as in language arts, every student learns the same foundational writing and grammar, but what each student goes on to write over his life will be radically different depending on his own choices, so too with the LePort education in general.
Our core curriculum makes the true enjoyment and achievement of personal values possible. Just like a writer needs basic writing skills so that he can write whatever he wants, we believe our students need essential knowledge so that they can learn whatever they want.
At LePort, our curriculum itself facilitates our students’ individualization: in Montessori, the child chooses what to work on; we don’t have school uniforms; we offer plentiful choices in academic assignments and tailor our curriculum.
Our enrichment and extracurricular program continue this individualization process. They have three broad purposes:
- Experience rewards and relaxation made possible through their school day work: Our extracurriculars – from our many field trips to the LePort Spirit days, from after-school arts classes to boot camp – are fun ways to relax and celebrate their achievements, and to introduce our students to a broader range of the pleasures the world offers.
- Provide an opportunity to pursue a chosen activity: something that calls to a student in particular, given their own unique interests. At LePort, we don’t believe a child’s whole development happens at school: we enthusiastically support our students who are passionate athletes, musicians or artists and pursue those interests outside of school. We do think that individual, chosen activities are critical to a child’s growth – and therefore offer a range of interesting extracurricular activities.
- Support social interaction and bonding between peers and between teachers and students. A big part of our personal development program happens outside the core classroom: our extracurricular and enrichment activities enable social interactions and relationship building among students, and enable teachers to build bonds with each child.
Our extracurricular activities take many forms.
- Recess as personal development time. In contrast to many schools, where recess is an unstructured free-for-all, and where bullying and harassment can make children dread school, we view recess as a time for personal development. We structure the environment, and ensure teacher participation – so children can develop socially in joint games and during lunch table conversations.
- Special Events and Spirit Days. From Grandparent’s Day, to School Color Day; from Halloween to St. Patrick’s Day, from the Spring Recital to World Math day: at LePort, our monthly special events and Spirit Days enable us to be creative, to engage with each other, and to experience the spice of life brought by holidays and cultural celebrations.
- Field trips. Our preschoolers take at least one field trip each year, and our elementary and junior high students take a wide range of field trips and explore the many exciting and educational experiences that Orange County offers. From The Huntington Library, to the OC Register, from the Pacific Marine Mammal Center to the South Coast Repertory: we take our children out in the world to keep them excited about learning.
- Yearbook Program. Our 8th graders produce a school yearbook every year. They write the articles, take photos, and work under our guidance to develop a layout and manage the production. This project gives them a chance to put many skills into practice, from writing to project management – and gives all of us a wonderful keepsake every June.
- After-School Activities. Our different campuses offer a wide range of optional after-school programs. These programs enable students to further explore an area of interest – and conveniently integrate into our extended care hours. Programs offered range from athletic “boot camp” to creative art, from music classes for toddlers, to chess and debate for junior high students.
- At the same time, we recognize that many of our students have intense personal interests that they pursue outside of school – from competitive tennis to professional voice instruction for an opera career. We wholeheartedly support these interests. We, for example, make homework manageable, both by limiting it to reasonable amounts, and by offering our supervised homework period to enable children to get a head start.