What we do at the RAD school

Language Arts 

In the RAD room, reading, writing and spelling are integrated into the whole school day. 

To best serve our multi-age room, we split into smaller groups so that individual needs can be met.  Emerging readers hone their decoding and phonics skills, progressing readers work on spelling patterns and parts of speech, while our most developed readers have book-group discussions.  RADsters also have time to free write each week and explore different genres including fiction, fantasy and poetry.


The RAD math program is a mixture of group work, hands-on activities, paper and pencil work and concept-building games.  We draw upon a variety of resources, including teacher-made games and activities, manipulatives and textbook activities.  The aim is for math to be part of daily classroom happenings and to show how necessary it is in everyday life. How big do we need to cut that cardboard to fit the table?  How much money do we need to make our fruit salad for the party?  How many minutes left do we have for snack?

Social Studies and Science

These subjects form the centerpieces of our longer, more in-depth studies. This year we are exploring our neighborhood, transportation in the city and outer space.

 While the teacher has a basic outline of what some studies may be for the year,  a close ear is kept on the children to discover where their interests lie. 

These studies can take us anywhere. For our neighborhood study this year, we built a scale replica of a city block, complete with lit-up shops, garbage cans and bus stops. 

Performance and the dramatic arts are also central to the RAD experience.  This year, we created a musical play telling the story of how and why the city subway system was built. The children wrote much of the material, including a song.

Field Trips

Getting out into the world is an essential part of life at RAD. Each week, the class takes a trip -- it could be a museum, a garden, a historic place, an artist’s studio, an animal sanctuary.

Sometimes the trips relate to what we’re studying -- we went to the Transit Museum while studying the subway. Other trips are scheduled to simply take advantage of all that New York City has to offer. Some use their trip journals to record personal impressions and illustrations of what they see.


Each week, for an hour, the children work with a trained music teacher, learning folk songs, practicing rounds and even writing their own lyrics. Recorders are introduced mid-year, giving the children the opportunity to become familiar with an instrument and to read basic music.

“Specialty” Classes

 The parents and teachers choose classes with guest teachers, based on what people want and the year’s budget. This year, we did a four-week unit at Construction Kids, which offers supervised shop classes to children in a beautiful space near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. A science teacher is coming to teach a series of workshops on astronomy.


Each week the children walk to the local public library to explore the stacks and check out books of their choosing. Some of the books are relevant to classroom work. Others are just ones the kids are interested in.

Outdoor Play/Movement 

RADsters spend an hour each day at one of two neighboring playgrounds.  Other physical activities and outside classes are chosen by the parent coop and teacher. This year, the kids took a 10-week African dance workshop. We may take other classes.

Rest/Read Aloud 

Every day, after lunch, the children are read to by the teacher while they listen and sketch freely in their "rest books."  This is a great way to share literature.  All children, regardless of their age and reading level can participate and engage in these books.  By year's end the group will have listened to approximately 20 titles together!

Room Work 

Children get time each week to select their own activities. Some choose arts and crafts, others play games (chess, checkers, playing cards) or work with building materials like Legos or blocks.  Occasionally, if children have been spending the majority of their time in one area, teachers will encourage the kids to get out of their comfort zone and explore a new material or area of the room.

Community Building 

 RAD celebrates its mixed-age room by doing the difficult but necessary work of discussing social issues that arise.  A community contract is created in the first months and community meetings are also scheduled each week.  We work hard to listen and learn from everyone's unique experience and create a room of respect and inclusiveness. 

Serving the larger community is also part of our mission.  Hosting an arts and crafts fair to raise money for UNICEF, visiting a senior center and taking on a weekly shift to care for the chickens at the community garden up the street are all ways that the RAD kids learn the benefits of giving to others.