Our School » How We Learn

How We Learn


Our Vision

The San Carlos School District shall provide an innovative and engaging learning experience that fosters the development of the whole child to ensure all students are well prepared for success in the 21st Century, as evidenced by:

  • Reaching their highest academic, social, emotional, intellectual, and physical potential
  • Becoming problem solvers, critical thinkers, risk-takers, designers, collaborators, and innovators
  • Developing into contributing, empathic citizens and leaders who are responsible stewards of their world and care about equity and justice, both locally and worldwide.

Our preschool through third grade schools nurture primary-age learners by providing a range of hands-on experiences and opportunities for exploration. At this stage, children are growing by leaps and bounds across all areas of development: social, emotional, physical and cognitive. Our instructional program is designed to help children thrive!

Academic Excellence and the 8Cs/Habits of Mind

Students master foundational skills in reading, writing, mathematics, science and social studies, applying skills in meaningful ways to create and share new ideas. Students learn individually, in small groups, in whole class lessons, and in collaborative partnerships across classrooms and grade levels. In addition to academic skills, students gain essential competencies across the 8Cs/Habits of Mind, the building blocks for learning and leadership. These skills include taking ownership for learning, collaborating, thinking critically, communicating, creative problem-solving, curiosity, showing compassion and composure, and actively contributing to our community as a citizen and steward.

Project-Based Learning and Personalized Learning

Children are deeply curious, full of questions about the world around them. We harness this zest for learning by devoting significant time to student-driven projects where children develop a driving question, research, and share high-quality work with a public audience.


Young learners naturally develop along their own unique time tables. Teachers expertly watch for moments when children are ready to take their next steps. Teachers honor each child by celebrating progress, guiding students to set and self-assess learning goals, and partnering with parents to identify learning opportunities both inside and outside of school.


We are dedicated to increasing student ownership, rigor, and engagement. We want our students to embrace new challenges with confidence, and we are eager to help each child take their next "just right" learning steps. Learn more about what we have done to implement Personalized Goal Setting at White Oaks.


Active, Playful Learning and Tinkering

Primary learners are full of creative confidence! Across the curriculum, learning experiences are designed to help children see themselves as capable problem solvers, makers, and innovators. During project- based learning, in our Makerspace, and during classroom lessons, students learn through hands-on experiences and play.

Young children are naturally drawn to the outdoor world. Teachers in our preschool-3rd grade schools foster environmental stewardship and a connection to nature through science lessons, project-based learning and gardening. At every grade level, students learn what it means to be part of our world community, and develop a point of view for how they can make a positive impact.

A Focus on the Whole Child

Each week, students experience music, art, social-emotional learning, physical education, story time in the library, and special events. Engaging assemblies, our fall Book Fair, the school play, Heritage Festival, and neighborhood flower delivery on May Day are some of the ways students experience enriched and joyful learning throughout their P-3 years.

As children become second and third graders, they can join a variety of clubs such as Acorn Press News – a student run news station, Environmental Green Team, and more! In addition, after school enrichment classes and on-site child care are available for students of all ages.

A Caring and Supportive Learning Community

Socially and emotionally, children are learning how to communicate needs and express opinions. They solve problems, resolve conflicts, and help teammates while considering the perspectives of others. Students learn skills in weekly classes with our school counselor, in small groups by referral, as well as in classroom lessons using Books of the Month and other tools to teach a Mindset for Learning. Opportunities to develop self-efficacy by making choices and navigating conflict during play are an essential part of the school day. With the support of our highly professional, experienced and loving staff as well as our generous community partners, parents, and volunteers, our students soar!