The development of the learning program at Tru is based on decades of well researched understanding of child development at different age levels and established principles of meaningful and integrated learning. We follow high standards of teaching practice and skill achievement that prepare children not only to perform well on typical measures, but to demonstrate the skills of critical thinking, problem solving, application of knowledge, and creativity that ultimately have much more significance in one’s education and career. 


Early (K-1)

  • Phonetic language instruction, vocabulary development, letter formation, elements of story
  • Number awareness, counting, beginning place value, addition and subtraction, money
  • Scientific observation skills, group experiments,
  • Family traditions and memories, household functions

The early childhood learner engages with the world through the senses, physical movement, social interaction, and role play. Far more can be understood and remembered through activity and manipulation of materials than through abstract lecture or rote memorization. Our curriculum applies this principle as much in mathematics as in art. Children learn to visualize the relationships between numbers. They practice the difference between an artistic drawing and a scientific diagram. They progress from the sounds of different letters and letter combinations to the recognition of meaning in a text. 

Example: In Writer’s Studio, an activity that continues throughout the elementary years, students learn the elements that make a story by creating their own stories, first with illustrations and dictated words, and then through their own developing writing. The process is filled with individual achievement as they gradually build their spoken and written vocabulary, but also social connection as they share their work with the class and gain inspiration from the ideas of others. They “publish" books with the same status as the printed books that line their classroom shelves. They learn to view themselves as writers, always developing ideas and refining their craft. 


Primary (2-3)

  • Advanced phonetics and spelling, paragraph writing, literary discussion, multiple genre writing
  • Advanced place value, multiplication and division, time, beginning fractions
  • Original scientific experiments, scientific concepts,
  • Social studies through neighborhood and culture

The primary learner extends knowledge to a wider social context, beginning to apply rules systematically and reason more carefully. Materials and models remain important, but the relationships become more complex. What is the difference between adding and multiplying? How do we identify the letter-sound combinations in more advanced words? What kinds of questions can be tested by an experiment? At this level children become more efficacious and goal oriented. They measure their progress and achievement against those of others. Our program challenges these students to find the leading edge of their learning. A sentence becomes a paragraph; a paragraph becomes pages. They follow their interests further afield, gaining information from books as well as visits to neighborhood resources.

They develop more speed and accuracy in math. They design their own scientific experiments.

Example: In Number Mysteries, our original concept-based mathematics program, students at this level learn to create “arrays” — arrangements of rows of numerically designed blocks to show how multiplication creates a two-dimensional area.  They generate random questions using dice and build the array using Cuisenaire rods and Base 10 blocks. They record their work using both diagrams and conventional notation. At increasing levels of complexity, the arrays reveal the different components of multiplying ones, tens, and hundreds. This activity prepares students for a later understanding of multiplying algebraic expressions. 


Upper (4-6)

  • Advanced vocabulary, literary analysis, research skills, typing proficiency, independent reading
  • Advanced fractions and operations, decimals and percents, factors and multiples
  • Scientific analysis and interpretation
  • History, government organization, and current events

The upper elementary student reaches a new level of competence and reasoning ability. Social understanding becomes more subtle and nuanced. Pattern, proportion, and hierarchical ideas become easier to understand. This growth allows the student to encounter tasks requiring much more analysis and organization. Our curriculum reflects these new possibilities with deeper questions about literature, the study of history and social institutions that are more removed from direct experience, and the challenge of interpreting scientific data. These students become researchers, able to use primary and secondary resources to write papers of several pages, demonstrating their broadening understanding of the world.


Example: As part of the school’s study of Beginnings, the older class undertakes a study of the genetic patterns that lead to inherited traits. Using paper cutout faces and features, they bring two parents together to determine the probabilities that the children will have dominant or recessive traits. They examine photos of themselves and their own parents to draw similar conclusions. They discuss and write the implications for how frequently different traits appear in a population, as well as the mathematical relationships at work