Programs & Philosophy
What makes Terra Nova unique?
Junior Kindergarten - 8th Grade
Education at The Terra Nova School is an atmosphere, a discipline and a life. We focus on educating the whole child, mind and soul. We immerse them in scripture and biblical truth in and through all subjects all throughout their day. We train them in virtuous living for their good, for the love of others, and for the glory of God. We focus on mastery of foundational skills to develop a lifelong love of learning in the child.
In using classical methods such as narration, copywork, song, chants, movement, and stories, as well as biblical integration all throughout the day, our goal is to point students to truth, goodness, and beauty in all subjects and lessons.
THREE-DAY CORE PROGRAM:
Students attend school 8:30am-3:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and are home-based on Mondays and Fridays.
Core Coursework includes mathematics, science, humanities, music and art.
All math classes are offered at a simultaneous time which enables students to be in the appropriate class that matches their particular learning objectives.
Humanities incorporates reading, writing, poetry, grammar, spelling, history, language and Bible. Memorization is practiced through songs, chants, skits and games. Our fluent readers take Latin in the grammar school.
Family time, work opportunities, and unique experiences are also integral to development and knowing more about God’s world, and our three-day core programs affords important time for that.
Example Schedule of the Day:
8:30 am Morning Chapel
9:00 - 10:00 am Mathematics
10:00-11:00 am Science
11:00-11:45 am Grammar/Latin
11:45 am -12:15 pm Lunch Break
12:20 pm - 2: 00 pm Humanities
2:00 pm - 2:30 pm Music
2:30 pm - 3:00 pm Art
We take a one-room schoolhouse approach within age-integrated classes. Low student-to-teacher ratios are what make the one-room approach achievable. The integrated classroom encourages students socially, spiritually, and cognitively. Leadership is increased, development is stimulated, and academic and social skills are improved. In all classes other than math, students are grouped by their reading level, with maturity, age, goals and struggles taken into account.
Our curriculum supports The Terra Nova School’s Christ-centered, classical approach to education. Our goal is to cultivate wisdom, virtue, and eternal influence. We aim to see our students find joy and humility in being life-long learners, well-equipped thinkers, and influential communicators. Ultimately, we pray that all of this is accomplished to better glorify God and in turn, for our students to know and enjoy Him more.
Rather than focusing on a specific curriculum, we have made informed decisions on our philosophical approach and choose various tools to support our pedagogy. Our curriculum comes in the form of our teachers, who embody our philosophy of education. The various curricula chosen and used are simply tools in the hands of a master.
Math is an essential element of any well-rounded education and is, therefore, a critical subject in classical, Christian education. It is like a language, and languages train our brains in thinking skills. Math is a logical, precise language and subsequently builds our capacity for skills in higher-level thinking.
Math builds upon itself, and therefore, mastery is key. If a child misses a skill, they will struggle to understand this important, symbolic representation of the way in which God ordered the world. Instruction will be offered in a way that fosters deep understanding, instills logic, develops critical thinking skills, and always aims towards truth.
Our Grammar School math program uses Singapore Math. Singapore Math is a highly effective teaching approach based on research of math mastery in Singapore. The curriculum was introduced to the US in 1998 and has since been adopted in various forms around the world. Singapore Math uses a specific pedagogy that moves from the concrete to modeling to an abstract representation. Because of this, it aligns particularly well with the classical approach of education. The Singapore Math method is focused on mastery and on learning to think mathematically, which helps students be better problem solvers, gain more confidence and resourcefulness, and prepares them to excel in advanced mathematics.
Our Logic School Math (6th-8th levels) program uses a combination of integrated methods to build important skills, ensure comprehension and master problem-solving. We aim to see students think creatively to solve problems and conclude truth. We focus on preparing them for concepts in Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry and Calculus.
“Scientia” is the Latin word for knowledge and knowledge discovers what already exists in God’s creation—it is understanding what is. God made the world in an ordered way, and science discovers this order through investigation, exploration and experimentation—it is an active process that should cultivate wonder. These skills, when well developed, promote discovery of truth; and this prepares students for more formal studies. The ultimate result of scientific discovery is fulfillment of the creation mandate in Genesis, and this informs how we engage with ethics, morality, and politics.
The Terra Nova School science program aims to cultivate wonder and appreciation for God’s creation, and provide exploration of His world through hands-on activities that we pray instills in them a desire to know more!
Our integrated humanities is the study of the image of God through literature, history, writing, Scripture, public speaking, music, and art. The tools of this study are grammar and logic. which are developed throughout our program. Our humanities program partners with parents to develop a biblical worldview, and to equip students to engage in, what is sadly moving towards, a post-Christian culture. This study strives to result in students who write, speak, and think critically. The Terra Nova School works to equip students to express themselves with clarity and persuasiveness that is aimed towards truth. Therefore, in the early grammar years, we begin to foster and cultivate a love of story and the skills to read, write, and speak well. We believe that humanities instruction should result in conscious dependence upon God and His sovereign reign over all things, gratitude for the redemptive work of Christ in the world, and an emphasis on the cultivation of Christian virtue.
Language and Latin:
God has given us language and each language is rich with culture and history. Language embellishes the other disciplines. Studying another language is to study people and to study Latin is to study the origin of words we use in medicine, law, science, and in our daily lives. We teach Latin as a foundational second language because of the rich history that accompanies it for Christians. This is the language that surrounded our founding Church fathers and a language that has clarity in its words. Latin lends itself to logical skills and reinforces grammatical concepts in reading, writing and analyzing literature. Latin is foundational to the Romantic languages and cultures, and with a large Spanish speaking population in Southern California, Latin sets our students up to learn Spanish readily. It is also beneficial to future learning in computer programming or future learning in the medical field.
We want our students to recognize the true, the good, and the beautiful—not just things that are utilitarian. We create because we were created in the Image of God. As Francis Schaeffer says, “A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God, not just as tracts, mind you, but as things of beauty to the praise of God.” We want well-rounded students, students who are not just academic, but students who recognize and can create beauty. The study of art gives us a lens into other times and cultures while also educating us in the history of the image-bearers of God.
The Terra Nova School intentionally integrates music, visual art and drama into our core coursework but offers a more intensive approach during specific music and art classes during the week.
Subjects are interwoven in a way that relates all subjects to a whole, with scriptural truth at the center. Through theme-based units and through the use of story, we create an environment that cultivates a love for learning as students find continuity between what they are learning. The peace of knowing Christ’s truth as it integrates with His world provides a powerful shield against the hostile questions posed later in life.
Catechism comes from the Greek word catechesis, which means to instruct by mouth. Many modern Christians are only familiar with catechisms because of their association with the Roman Catholic Church, but catechisms are actually at the heart of the Protestant faith. For generation after generation, our forefathers in the faith would instruct their children by means of this valuable tool using repetitions of question and answer. At the heart, catechisms give language to the Christian faith.
Q: Why did God make you and all things? A: For His own glory.
Q: How do you glorify God? A: By loving Him and obeying His commandments.
Q: Where do you learn to love and obey God? A: From the Bible alone.
God’s law provides basic guidelines that cover the whole of life. Catechism serves as a guide to better understanding God’s law and apply it to every domain of human existence. Therefore, The Terra Nova School utilizes catechisms as an important tool for instructing our students. Students memorize them throughout the school year while learning where each question and answer is supported by scripture.