The Sand Hill Approach

At Sand Hill School, kids experience Sand Hill’s special approach to teaching.

Because Sand Hill kids have unique learning styles, we use a specially-crafted approach to working with them so they become successful and resilient. Many connected elements go into what we do and all together, we call it The Sand Hill Approach. Elements include academics, social emotional learning, executive functioning and physical development. At Sand Hill School, kids get a leg up on learning with this approach. Download the Sand Hill Approach elements (PDF) or view them below.



The What

1. Evidence-based Curriculum

Teachers use evidence-based programs across all curriculum areas to ensure that learners with language-based learning differences have the greatest opportunity to succeed.

  • Reading instruction: Fundations® and Wilson Reading System®
  • Mathematics: Eureka Math, Making Math Real, and Spatial-Temporal Math
  • Writing: Step Up to Writing® (Sopris West®)
  • Executive Functioning: Smart (RESEARCHILD), Executive Functions Curriculum (School Specialty)
  • Social Emotional Learning: PATHS® (Channing-Bete)

The What

2. Academic Learning

Includes reading/language arts, writing, math, science, history/social studies, visual and performing arts and P.E. Additionally, Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Executive Functioning (EF) are embedded across all subject areas. Because Sand Hill students will transition to more typical classrooms where they will be required to meet standards, the approach supports academic and content standards but is not driven by them. The approach uses developmentally appropriate practices, encouraging children to develop at their own pace, fill in gaps when necessary and learn specific strategies to address challenges. With a solid foundation, students become more able to approach grade level tasks with greater confidence.

The What

3. Executive Functioning Skills

Instruction in Executive Functioning (EF) is an important part of the Sand Hill Approach. We directly and explicitly teach our students EF skills as tools for learning. These include: planning, organization, memory, time management and flexible thinking. We also teach things like how to organize a binder, how to set goals, learning how to learn, and how to reflect on learning.

The What

4. Social Emotional Skills

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is a powerful component of the Sand Hill Approach. We directly and explicitly teach our students SEL strategies such as self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills, and tools for responsible decision-making, and we help our students apply those strategies throughout the school day.

The How

5. Expert staff

Our empathetic teachers and specialists are the heart of the school. With years of experience and specific training in working with language-based learning differences, such as such as dyslexia, our teachers use state of the art teaching practices with a compassionate touch tailored to each individual child.

The How

6. Best Practices

Teaching practices at Sand Hill School are based on research and evidence balanced with years of professional experience. A component of every student’s program is project based learning. Small group instruction includes personalization that is structured but flexible, developmentally appropriate, and multisensory. A longer school year gives students more time to absorb learning.

The How

7. Technology Support and Family Partnership

We use technology both to support student learning and as a strategy/tool for learning. Each student in in 3rd grade and above has a laptop and iPad loaded with software and apps that become tools for learning. Family commitment and partnership are essential to the Sand Hill Edge. Activities include parent education, PTO, involvement in school activities and fundraising.

The Result

Kids learn to love school again. They feel more confident, they make friends and they develop valuable strategies for learning. Parents learn to breathe again because their child is excited to go to school and because they know their child’s teacher is invested in their child.