Programs and Curriculum


To see our curriculum in action, and day to day activities, check out DGS Facebook page!

 Mission Statementleaf

Davidson Green School’s mission is to create a more sustainable future through education. Through hands on and experiential curriculum, students learn how to put the social, economical, and environmental aspects of sustainability into action, creating a more compassionate and regenerative world.


For ages 3 years old through kindergarten

Enrollment for the Primary class is open!

Please go HERE for the application.

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The structure and curriculum for the primary class is where Montessori, Play-based Learning, and Forest Kindergarten come together. To learn more about each of these components, please follow the links below.


Play-based Learning

Forest Kindergarten


Davidson Green School’s primary class will focus on the development of the whole child. In keeping with our overall philosophy of the school, children in the primary class will be enriched with the science, engineering, and sustainability focus of the school in a developmentally appropriate way. The primary class will also spend as much time outside as possible in the beautiful three acres surrounding the school in downtown Davidson.

The primary class consists of two options.

Primary Half is a half-day program 5 days per week. This program is for students who turn 3 or 4 on or before August 31st, and runs from 9:00 to 1:00 each day.

Primary K is kindergarten and runs for a full day, 5 days per week. This program is for students who turn 5 on or before August 31st, and runs from 9:00 to 3:00 each day.

Students must be fully potty trained before entering into the Primary classroom. (Look here for our Potty Trained Definition and Policy.) All students in the primary class eat lunch at DGS. All lunches and snacks are packed from home and must be peanut-free.

Need something for your Primary Half student to do from 1:00 to 3:00? Go HERE to read about Woodland Discovery!

Enrollment for the primary class is open!

Please go HERE for the application.

For approximately 6-9 year olds (1st through 3rd grades)

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Enrollment for the Lower Elementary class is open!

Please go HERE for the application.

The elementary curriculum was developed as an integrated whole to serve the developmental needs of children from ages 6 to 11. The continuity from lower elementary to upper elementary allows the individual child to move through the various subject areas at the pace that is best for them, building confidence and genuine self-esteem. The division of the elementary into two stages, 6-9 year olds and 9-11 year olds is based on the students’ developmental needs as they move towards adolescents, and into our Middle School program. The work in the lower elementary is done with extensive Montessori materials allowing the children not only to experienced the depth and breadth of the curriculum, but also to become comfortable with their own learning styles. The upper elementary students, ages 9-11, transition to more abstract thinking relying more heavily on books and other resource material as they strengthen the work begun in the lower elementary. The overall goal of the Lower Elementary is to provide a prepared environment that meets the needs and tendencies of the child at this stage of their development

Characteristics of children ages 6 – 9:2014-08-29 12.50.20

  1. The reasoning mind is very important.
  2. For every answer the children have a question, “Why?”
  3. Be the time they reach this age, the children achieve a certain degree of independence and will continue to strive for
    more independence.
  4. Exploration is another characteristic of this age level and often the child wants to go beyond the usual expectation for their age level.
  5. The child often turns outward to the broader society and the world beyond herself.
  6. 2014-09-05 11.09.29Friends become increasingly important to children at this age.
  7. The children sometimes create secret languages.
  8. The child often becomes more adventurous and daring.
  9. Some children become “untidy” with personal belongings.
  10. During this stage of development, the children’s conscious becomes “keener”; they develop better ideas of right and wrong, and they often seem to have a better understanding of rules and regulations.
  11. They can have enormous potential of intellect and power of imagination in this stage.

Enrollment for the Lower Elementary class is open!

Please go HERE for the application.


For approximately 9 – 11 year olds (4th and 5th grades)

Enrollment for the Upper Elementary class is open!

Please go HERE for the application.

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The Upper Elementary Program is a Community of Learners and Leaders. The mission of this program is dedicated to providing a holistic education to all the students. This vision is accomplished through an integrated curriculum and daily, practical experiences sensitive to the developmental levels within the age range.

The Upper Elementary curriculum is a bridge to abstract learning. The students are guided to mastery of fundamental skills and basic core knowledge through personal development and self-discovery. Students are actively engaged in the planning and design of their individual goals and are empowered to follow personal interest and inspiration. Students are also afforded time to create individualized units of study and engage in individual or collaborative research. Related topics are studied together and connections are emphasized. There is a particular emphasis on science, sustainability, engineering, entrepreneurism, and environmental studies.2014-10-17 12.07.44


The program promotes independent thinking and creativity. Students are supported in visual and performing arts. Other valuable life lessons such as how to work and communicate with others, solve conflicts peacefully, teach and lead others, community service, and social and personal responsibility are supported creating a strong and well rounded learning environment for all.


The Upper Elementary Program 2015-01-09 09.25.10enjoys getting into the community often and using local resources. These students take class walking trips to the Davidson Public Library, to Davidson College, and to downtown Davidson. These students are also able to take many field trips to support areas of study, such as to the local news station, to theaters, to local farms, and periodically on over-night trips.

Enrollment for the Upper Elementary class is open!

Please go HERE for the application.

DGS Middle School

For approximately 11 – 14 year olds (We will have 6th and 7th grades for the 2017-2018 school year and add 8th grade the following fall.)


The Leaders of…  today!

Enrollment for 6th and 7th grade is open!

Please go HERE for the application.


Davidson Green School’s middle school curriculum revolves around integrated exploratory intensives immersed in community and current events with emphasis on both a social and historical perspective. Middle schoolers delve deep into society – now and then – not only in order to understand the world in which we live, but also to understand themselves, contemplating their own values and assumptions in the context of the world around us.

“Middle School with no Borders”


The curriculum is integrated in that subject areas are entwined and related to each other. Topics are not isolated, but rather explored in the context of all disciplines together. The curriculum is exploratory in that students are active learners in creating and finding information, ideas, and concepts. The students explore the community/world around them to build their understandings. For example, through frequent field trips, students may interview local experts, visit facilities, go to museums, and explore local opportunities in order gather information. The curriculum is intensive in that one topic is explored in great depth and breadth, and encompasses all disciplines, at one time. An intensive may last from 2 weeks to 6 weeks before students feel complete in their understanding of the topic/concept.


DGS middle school uses a Flipped Learning model. Flipped Learning is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the teacher guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter. In other words, rather than the typical classroom model where the teacher is the primary provider of information and students leave the classroom to practice, experiment, and do projects (think homework), we flip this model. Instead, students are information gatherers outside of the classroom (watching instructional videos, reading, researching, etc as guided by the teacher), and come back to the classroom to discuss, practice, explore, and experiment in a community of learners.

Throughout each middle school year, starting in 6th grade, students will enjoy keystone components of the middle school experience including:

The Extended Wilderness Experience
 This experience is a multi night adventure into the woods. In preparation for these trips, we provide instruction on backpacking, safety in the wilderness, strategic food and gear packing and “Leave No Trace” camping ethics. Out on the trails, students learn experientially about backcountry meal preparation, map reading, topography, tarp set-up, and knot tying. This trip is usually scheduled early in the school year with the added goal of group cohesiveness and bonding.


The Extended Learning Field Trip This is one of the most impactful experiences of the year. Students actively participate in decisions about where to go and what to do on the ELFT based on what they have been studying for the year. They help make the contacts, arrangements for lodging and meals, and learning goals. During field trips, students significantly expand their social and practical skills. They learn to meet and work with new people, adapt to new settings and step out of one’s comfort zone, respect others, on-the-road planning skills, and how to contribute positively to group dynamics. This trip is scheduled towards the end of the school year as a natural outcome and connection of the year’s learning.

Each middle school student will participate in one or more externship each year. These can vary from a few days long to a few weeks. The purpose of the externship can vary with the student’s interest or age, time of the year, or curriculum connections. The important piece of the externship is for the student to learn from an authentic experience and from an expert in the field.   (What is the difference between an externship and an internship?)

Service Learning
The service learning component provides an opportunity for the middle schoolers to give back to our community and to help those in need. The students work together to complete a community project, which is typically a week long. For example, students may help maintain greenways, conduct roadside cleanup, plant a garden, provide assistance to elders, and work with local nonprofit organizations.


Portfolio and End of Year Product Throughout the school year, the middle schoolers will compile a portfolio of their work and learning. This will show not only their best work from the year, but also the growth from throughout the year. In addition, by the end of the school year, each student will produce a finished product of some sort. This might be a published poem, an app, a robot, a play, an invention, a film, etc., which is presented and created for a wider audience than DGS or DGS parents.


Enrollment for 6th grade is open!

Please go HERE for the application.


Instructional Approach2015-01-21 12.03.38

Problem and Project-Based Instruction

Davidson Green School uses problem-based instruction to provide content and process objectives. Through the problems, students engage in “real” work; work that has a meaning beyond the test, and often beyond the school. For example, students might be asked “which would be better for the school– the acquisition of chickens or rabbits?” The students would first decide individually which they think would be best for the school. Perhaps this creates two groups (or three – a group with another idea). Each of these groups then researches their topics. Once they have adequate knowledge, they then prepare for a debate, using both the power of facts and persuasion. They also run a campaign to educate and persuade others to believe in their cause. The day of the debate, parents, siblings, friends and community members are invited. Students engage in a respectful debate about the benefits of their idea. At the end, everyone (students, teachers, administrators, family, and friends) vote.

From this unit of study, students learn skills across the curriculum, such as:

In the area of Language Arts:

  • reading and decoding
  • vocabulary development
  • expository writing
  • persuasive writing

In the area of Mathematics:

  • measurement
  • area
  • volume
  • money skills
  • fractions and decimals
  • problem solving
  • calculations

In the area of Science:

  • animal needs
  • environment
  • life cycle
  • climate
  • habitat

In the area of Social Studies:

  • geography
  • economics
  • democratic government
  • debate skills

Other areas

  • self-awareness
  • self-confidence
  • public speaking
  • social skills
  • collaboration and team work


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Montessori Instruction, Environment, and Materials

While we do not claim to be a Montessori school, it is the philosophy and approach that we most closely adhere to. We have Montessori certified teachers, Montessori materials, a Montessori prepared environment, Montessori 3-year multi-age classes, and a Montessori flow to our day. So why do we not claim to BE Montessori? Because we love other philosophies and approaches too! We take the very best not only from Montessori, but also from Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, Play-based learning, and Earnest Boyer (The Basic School). Just like we encourage our students to be flexible and to think out-side the box, we do the same in our approach to learning, instruction, and curriculum.

Spiral Curriculum

The spiral curriculum (Bruner, J. S., 1960) is the idea that a curriculum should repeatedly revisit basic ideas. With this method, schools do nothave to postpone the teaching of concepts to children because they are too difficult. “We begin with the hypothesis that any subject can be taught effectively in some intellectually honest form to any child at any stage of development” (ibid.: 33). As Bruner stresses, “A curriculum as it develops should revisit the basic ideas repeatedly, building upon them until the student has grasped the full formal apparatus that goes with them” (ibid.: 13).

Bruner, J (1960) The Process of Education, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.