We do not take education lightly. Especially with the knowledge that there are so many methods of teaching and so many attempts at teaching moral values in the educational system–public and private. We have considered home school, public school, and private school while knowing that home school was the only way we could actually control what they were being taught. As a result, we realize that our children might encounter a variety of settings for their education. Though we have chosen a variation of public schooling we are prepared for the reality that public education will not always reinforce what we are teaching at home. Learning the three R’s is important, but your standard education is not going to focus on character.
Currently, our children attend a language immersion school. This particular school is a public charter school, which means that it has the perks of being free, but the school has it’s own “government,” which is a board made up of parents, teachers, and citizens. They make decisions for the school and welcome parental input. They also select their curriculum. I found this school online right before we were to move to Minneapolis. I was gathering information on the availability of immersion schools in the metro area. This school stood out to me because many of their core principles and goals are character traits and values that we strive to teach and see developed in our children. Essentially, this school links learning and character (called the “Learner Profile”).
Additionally, my children are in a learning environment that does not attach human value (or self worth)to level of academic ability. Children are encouraged to do their best. Students are definitely evaluated, but the culture of the school (which scores in the 90% on standardized testing–even though the students are learning everything in a different language than the one in which the test is given) is not that grades=intelligence=self worth.
Conferences are student led, in that beforehand the student–in conjunction with the teacher–considers something specific the student could improve and what the student could add to challenge their strengths. The student, not the teacher, presents that to the family. Conferences also entail the student, parent and teacher developing realistic, obtainable goals that will help the student fulfill a particular Learner Profile. For example, last semester’s Learner Profile was risk-takers. “Risk-takers approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with courage and forethought. They explore new roles, ideas, and strategies” Moriah chose one area of weakness and one area of strength. Then she, we, and her teacher came up with separate goals on how she could or how we could help her be a risk-taker in Math and language.
Although it annoys me when I’m trying to make supper or after a long day, I like that the homework always requires some level of parental involvement. Likely, parental involvement is strongly encouraged and welcomed in most all facets of the school. I could look up stats, but I think we all know that any form of parental involvement in a child’s education makes a large difference in their learning and attitude toward school.
The school is small, the teachers there love their job. They love students and teaching. Having an educator that is there to give a quality education, work with parents, and engage with children on a personal level makes a world of difference for the students and parents alike. Another aspect of the school culture is that we are all in it together.
The school also teaches the students to have a global mindset. They are learning to not just ask how things affect themselves, but also their community, their country, other countries/cultures, and the world.
I do some extra teaching (what is also known as unschooling) at home to round out their education with things they will not learn in school (or things I don’t want the school teaching them). I use methods that are unique to me and tailored to their learning style. Although I would like to do that more, I feel confident that we have made the right decision for our children to complete this immersion program at this specific school. Once they are done with this, we will reassess for the next round.