Teaching Methods

Teaching students to succeed
in the classroom of life


Over the years we’ve fine-tuned our approach, identifying the aspects that lead to individual success for a wide variety of students from all ages and levels of competency. Our methods are designed to help students learn at their own pace and in the way that is best for them. They are also created to present students with appropriate challenges and intentional practices that help them build their skills and understanding not just academically, but emotionally and socially as well.

An individualized Approach

Every student receives an individualized academic plan of core competencies and goals developed by our teachers, in collaboration with the student, parent, and local education agency (LEA). That academic plan serves as the guide for each student’s experience at Charterhouse and assures personal support and academic progress throughout their time here.

A Challenging Curriculum

Charterhouse School’s curriculum aligns with the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL), and required SOL testing is coordinated with the LEA.

Engaging the Whole Brain

We use a variety of methods to enhance learning, from the scientific method to art appreciation and personal exploration. Movement in many forms – physical education, music, and drama—is used to develop all parts of the brain. We strive to develop the whole student by focusing on developmentally appropriate personal and interpersonal skills, as well as academics. Self-directed learning, social skills and service learning are also incorporated into the curriculum.

Students Learn by Doing

We give our students the opportunity to actively participate in the learning process. This may involve performing the parts of Romeo and Juliet, growing plants in our greenhouse, building contraptions to learn about gravity or taking field trips to learn about the Civil War or the Holocaust.

Stable, Consistent Classes

Charterhouse employs a cohort concept where a group of 7-10 students – or “cohort” – and an instructional specialist stay together throughout most of the school day. The instructional specialist accompanies the cohort to all academic courses in order to role model appropriate relationship building and assist with behavior management and individualized instruction.

Peers Teach Others and Learn from One Another

We establish multi-age groups to encourage students to learn from each other. We believe that this approach has many advantages:

  • Allows students to work at their own level and pace
  • Increases opportunities for peer teaching and learning
  • Provides a comfortable environment for both the students who work best with older peers and the students who work best with younger peers
  • Promotes personalization of curriculum, reducing the feelings of competitiveness
Students Learn Social Skills and Independent Living

We use various means outside of class to teach kids proper and effective ways to communicate with others. Charterhouse regularly schedules field trips, school-wide events such as field day, plays, coffeehouses and winter parties to get kids out of their environment and socialize. Occasions like these encourage them to work on conversation skills, forming relationships with peers, interacting cooperatively, handling conflict, practicing self-regulation and developing greater awareness and understanding of perspectives different from their own.

We Encourage Students to Serve Others

Service learning is a powerful component of our teaching method. Twice a month, our students participate in Generosity projects.  These projects have included volunteering at Meals on Wheels and Habitat for Humanity, working at local community gardens, cleaning local parks, providing salon services to senior citizens, and assisting at local animal shelters. When tied to classroom curriculum, service learning integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection. Service enriches our students’ experience by teaching civic responsibility, encouraging lifelong social engagement and strengthening communities for the common good.