Lower School Homebase

Every child participates in the Homebase program, which is a defining element of a VMS education. Homebase is a daily meeting between students and an advising teacher which serves as a time to reflect, plan, prioritize and support each other in a family environment. In addition, the Homebase class provides a venue for “dinner table conversations” which teach ethics and build character through discussions of real-life challenges. As a social, emotional and physical hub to daily life, the term Homebase is used interchangeably to refer to the actual meetings, a group of students within a grade, and the physical space that they call their own. In addition, Homebase advisors are advocates for students who are in touch with all aspects of student’s lives and who facilitate communication between students, teachers, coaches, and parents ensuring a true learning partnership.

In the lower school, we believe children learn best when they belong to a caring, kind, and safe community. We also believe that academic and social-emotional learning are inextricably linked. In support of these tenets, lower school utilizes the Responsive Classroom approach for its Homebase program, which places great emphasis on the dynamic interaction between the spheres of academic, emotional, and social growth. At the core of the Responsive Classroom methodology are the following essential structures and ideas:
  • Morning Meeting—gather as a whole class each morning to greet one another, share news, announcements, and schedule of the day, and build community with a group activity.
  • Afternoon closing meeting—provide students an opportunity for reflection, dialog, and fun at the end of each school day.
  • Rule Creation—help students create classroom rules that allow all class members to meet their learning goals.
  • Interactive Modeling—teaches children to notice and internalize expected behaviors through a unique modeling technique.
  • Positive Teacher Language—use words and tone to promote children’s active learning and self-discipline.
  • Logical Consequences—respond to misbehavior in a way that allows children to fix and learn from their mistakes while preserving their dignity.
  • Guided Discovery—introduce materials and supplies using a format that encourages creativity and responsibility.      
  • Academic Choice—increase student motivation by differentiating instruction and allowing students teacher-structured choices in their work.     
  • Classroom Organization—set up and maintain the physical room in ways that encourage independence, cooperation, and productivity.
  • Working with Families—hear families’ insights and help them understand the school’s mission, philosophy, and teaching approaches.
  • Collaborative Problem Solving—use conferencing, role-playing, and other strategies to engage students in problem solving.