Since Phi has been in school, she has always attended a religious private school. She had gone to school with the same group of kids for about 5 years. Last week The Phi started 3rd grade at a brand new school. Not just new to us, but brand new in general.
As much as we loved the school she had been attending, they were really lacking in academics, extracurricular activity opportunities and technology. We knew that we were going to eventually have to move her somewhere different and last spring we saw an opportunity that we felt would work well for us. A brand new charter school was taking application for fall.
The Phi is now attending a public charter school. And to change things up even more the elementary grades are a home school type program. It's a little complicated but kinda cool.
So grades k-5 have 1 teacher and 5 students in each grade. That's right it is Phi and 4 other students in her 3rd grade class. At the beginning of the week each grade has a 3 hour session with the teacher. This session is for student and parent. During this time the subject of the week is discussed and taught. The teacher incorporates all subjects with one topic. So if they are talking about plants, they will do some reading, writing, math, history and obviously science all centered around plants. Then a packet is given to the parents with work that will need to be completed at home. Students also meet on Fridays for an hour and a half for a more fun, and social session. This is when they will do experiments and go on field trips.
So that's it. 4.5 hours a week in the classroom. The rest of the work will be done at home with us. We really love the flexibility it gives our schedule. Joey and I are hoping to be able to incorporate family adventures with the subjects she is studying. So if she is studying the desert, we could take a trip out to Joshua Tree. Or studying sea animals might mean a whale watching trip. The school is very high-tech. Each student gets their own tablets where most of their work will be done. They have a system where parents can log-in to a site and review their students progress. The chalkboard has been replaced with a interactive promethian board. The small classroom sizes ensures that Phi gets lots of individualized attention and that her work load can be tailored to her skills.
The home school program is also set up to be family friendly. This means that there is a separate but open sibling room. An area with toys, books and movies for the little kids, and even a small "cafe" with coffee for the parents. Louie of course loves it and and now thinks she goes to school too. She even pulled out a backpack and is insisting she take it next session.
This is a big change for us. We are only in the beginning and still have not had any work sent to do at home. We are going to do what we can to be flexible in how and when and where work will be done at home. We are excited and nervous, but more excited. Phi was nervous about switching schools but after the first week she is so excited about it.
And heres to a new school year!