• Even more important in the fast-paced society of the 21st century is the adherence to the phases for cognitive, physical, and language, development. Today, children are flooded with media and objects in their environment that seem to falsely “advance” a child’s maturity. Mariposa's academic program strives to connect teaching practices with the time-tested developmental stages of children. As reflected in our program goals, we do not expect children to meet every grade level standard in every grade. Like walking, reading occurs only after certain prerequisites have been mastered and at different times for different children. As a standards-based program, however, it can be expected that most children will be meeting grade-level reading standards by the end of third grade (age 9). Around 2nd grade (age 7), children’s cognitive abilities move from concrete or literal thinking to abstract thinking in which academic skills can be more readily applied in a broader context. Consequently, students are expected to be more independent learners and though structure is still required by the teacher, opportunities to expand knowledge to more self-directed project-based learning are added. In the upper grades (pre-adolescence), children are beginning to form more independent identities from the adults around them and conformity with peers is a highly motivating factor in the school experience. At Mariposa we strive to use this desire for “trend-setting” and peer relationships by allowing students to “drive” the topics of their writing and projects and, in-turn, sustain an intrinsic motivation for learning.