How We Do It
Children learn best when they are engaged. So we use a combination of approaches through what we call a purposeful education to get – and keep – our kids engaged. These approaches include child centered learning – giving kids the confidence to direct their own education. Play based education – a child playing is a child learning – so our teachers know how to stay ahead of the wiggles and keep kids focused. All learning is participatory, so no idle learners here. Everyone joins in and everyone gets a say. And teaching is skills-based – not facts based. The combination of these methods is what gives children the hard skills they need to become successful adults – preparing them for middle school, high school, and beyond.
Through child-centered learning in our Richmond school, we shift the balance away from the teacher and onto the student. Our teachers are not standing in front of the classroom dictating what the children will learn. Children vote on what they want to learn next and when they want to learn it. Our teachers help them understand why a lesson is valuable so that the student gets invested in learning. The students are given the freedom in a protective environment to figure out what interests them. They are given opportunities to pursue what makes them curious.
No micromanaging here
In many public schools, teachers are turned into something like a micromanaging boss. They dictate the day. They tell students how they are going to learn. They have teaching formulas they have learned and they do not deviate from them. This is not how to teach a child so that they stay engaged. And that’s not how we operate with child-centered instruction. Our Richmond school has small class sizes – a ratio of 10:1. Our teachers know their students. They are able to take time to figure out how one student prefers to learn versus another. Not every student arrives at 2+2 the same way. We put the power of learning in the hands of the student. And we don’t tell them how to do it. We show them how to figure it out.
Our teachers are at the student’s level
Walk by our classrooms at any time during the day and you may have a hard time finding the teacher at first. That’s because they are not standing in one place lecturing to the students. They might be on the floor working with a student on a project. They might be huddled with a group of students helping them work out a problem. This is a dynamic classroom. Sometimes the desks are set in a circle so all the students can see each other. Sometimes desks are pushed away and students are working on the floor. With our Richmond school's individualized, child-centered approach, our teachers figure out what works for the students to keep them engaged. And learning does not always involve sitting at a desk.