We visited the second school on our choice of two list, today.
I didn't *actually* think this would happen, but I believe we have found a primary school that will nurture my child's intellectual, social and academic requirements more than her father and I could do alone.
The thing that I love more than the International Baccalaureate primary years program, more than the gorgeous naturally treed environment, adjacent to the park, more than the multi-leveled quirky architecture of the buildings, more than the fact that there is a female principal - is how they structure the early education years. I may have mentioned before, the necessity within the schooling system for children to fit into boxes according to their ages and then learn predetermined curriculum *appropriate* for their age, shits me. Children are not carbon copies of each other. They don't fit neatly into boxes - no human being does! And they most certainly don't learn at the same pace. Some will always be bored. Some will always be left behind.
This school presents a multi-age philosophy for preps, year ones and year twos. Multi-age is the deliberate placing of children of different ages (and different abilities) in the same classroom. Within the classroom, the children are often regrouped into different learning abilities, rather than being taught at an age level. They are taught at their point of challenge (their words - love it!). With average multi-age class sizes of around 20 - there are only about 6-8 preps per class.
We entered one multi-age class and you couldn't tell which children were preps. All the children were relaxed, calm and intent on their learning (even after a slight interruption of our presence!). There wasn't the manic-ness you often see in a class of 20 five year old children (or six year old for that matter). According to the teachers, the prep students learn very quickly of classroom 'etiquette' and are often helped along by the older students.
Another thing that struck me was when we walked into a large room, divided into three multi-level sections, where approximately 60 year six students were learning maths, in small groups of no more than seven. There was very little noise! (In fact, this was very evident throughout the school.) The children were so intent on their learning - it was evident there was no boredom. The year level was six, but there were many students of younger ages present, as that was where they were up to academically in maths. There is continuous re-evaluation of the students by the teachers, to see if they need to move groups to further stimulate their learning. They work on the 50:50 premise. They aim for students to get 50% of their work right and 50% of their work wrong, striking the perfect learning balance.
I could go on for hours. I was very impressed. The focus is very much about nurturing self motivators and from what we could see, this was very evident (especially in the two class captains that walked around with us). And of course, being IB, the school has an international focus, which I greatly value.
I feel very grateful that this school has found its way into our world.
Thank you to Rachael for the referral. *smile*