In K-4, students receive narrative lessons comments and a pass/fail grade for each lesson. Beginning in fifth grade, students receive letter grades but may choose to continue with the pass/fail system. Even more important than the lesson and semester grades, however, are the teacher’s lesson comments and semester evaluations. These narrative assessments form the basis of the guidance and active teaching from the Oak Meadow teacher, and provide concrete feedback which the student can use to improve his or her work. The lesson comments and semester evaluations also help develop the one-to-one relationship between the student and the Oak Meadow teacher which facilitates more meaningful learning.
As an enrolled family, how much time can we take to complete a course? Can my child complete a full year course over the summer? What if it takes longer than ten months to complete a course?
Our curriculum is organized in 36 weekly lessons, and enrolled students have ten months in which to complete the work. If a child is ill or the family travels, lessons can be either postponed or done ahead of time, since the work is self-paced. Sometimes students will move ahead in a certain subject, doing multiple weekly lessons in one week, and then taking a break from that subject and moving on to others. This “block system” of learning is very popular with students who like to delve into a particular subject in depth. We often find students using the block system to organize their weekly lessons. For instance, a student might complete all the math work for the week on Monday, all the English assignments on Tuesday, etc. For many students, it is a very effective, efficient way to learn.
It is possible for a student to complete a one-semester or half-credit course over the summer, particularly if they are only taking one course. Of course, it is not easy! It all depends on the student’s motivation and ability, and is usually only accomplished by high school students.
For students needing more than ten months to complete their lessons, one- and two-month extensions are available. If more time is needed beyond the maximum two month extension, the student must re-enroll for an additional semester in order to finish the course and receive credit. Extension fees vary by grade, and can be found at the bottom of the Tuition page of our website.
We have many tools available to help students with specific learning needs. The unique adaptability of our curriculum, combined with the one-to-one support that students receive from both their Oak Meadow teacher and their parent/home teacher, often helps students overcome challenges that made learning in a traditional school setting difficult. We also offer a list of resources to assist students with learning executive skills such as time management, organization, and study strategies.
If a student is working below grade level in one or more subjects, accommodations can be made by enrolling the child in different grade levels for different subjects, and putting into place a Learning Plan that details specific modifications to the grade-level curriculum. After a detailed review of the student’s work, prior assessments, and learning needs, specific recommendations are made for curriculum modifications (such as reducing the number or length of assignments, working at a different grade level, dictating written work, or integrating educational support technology). The Oak Meadow Learning Plan is an official school document that becomes part of the student’s permanent record; this allows a student to receive academic credit for an adjusted work load.
If necessary, a Learning Plan is put into place before enrollment to help the student have a successful learning experience. There is no fee for a Learning Plan assessment. If it is determined that a Learning Plan is needed, there is a $300 fee in addition to the tuition.
As in any school environment, the success of a child’s school year depends largely upon the support and encouragement the student receives from the parents, and this support will take several forms. In our unique distance learning arrangement, it is primarily the parent’s responsibility to maintain contact with the teacher and ensure student work is submitted in a timely manner. In order for the teacher’s feedback to be most helpful, it is important for the student’s work to be submitted on a frequent, regular basis. Work is submitted after every two lessons (biweekly) in grades 5-12, and once a month in grades K-4. In addition to submitting lessons on a regular and consistent schedule, the parent can serve as a resource person, helping students locate the information needed to complete the lessons.
Especially important in distance learning, parents need to help their student develop good organizational and time management skills. Many parents assist by writing out a weekly schedule to help their child budget their time wisely. Checking your child’s progress on a daily and weekly basis also encourages steady progress and instills a feeling of accomplishment.
Depending on your child’s age and temperament, you may need to be a very strong presence during the homeschooling hours. Mathematics often requires daily assistance; checking your child’s work as it is completed, helping him or her to focus on the assignments, and answering questions as needed. Incorrect answers may be due to not understanding the mathematical concept or working too quickly. You will need to determine which of these is taking place and work with your student (and your Oak Meadow teacher, if necessary) to avoid continuing difficulties.
Your Oak Meadow teacher will rely upon you to let her know how much support you and your child need. She will also count on you to let her know how her evaluation feedback is received. While all students need encouragement, some work well with concrete suggestions and others need more gentle guidance. By working together with your Oak Meadow teacher, you and your child will derive the greatest benefit from your Oak Meadow School experience.
The role of the Oak Meadow teacher differs depending on the student’s grade level. Throughout the grade levels, Oak Meadow teachers provide perspective and guidance regarding any challenges that might arise during the learning process. Regular communication—whether it be with the home teacher/parent or the student her/himself—is a key aspect to a successful distance learning experience, and we encourage our enrolled families to keep in close communication with their Oak Meadow teacher. Oak Meadow teachers develop strong connections with their students over the course of many months and years, and this develops into learning relationships that provide a substantial level of support for students and their families. Our faculty are regional, and they gather once a month for professional development and to discuss pertinent topics with the goal to improve the academic program and student experience.
Oak Meadow pays close attention to students’ developmental stages, and the relationship between the Oak Meadow teacher, the home teacher, and the student evolves as the student gains skills in not just content areas, but executive functioning as well.
- In grades K-4, the Oak Meadow teacher acts primarily as a guide and source of inspiration and support, helping the parent with the teaching process. The home teacher submits samples of the student’s work once a month for grades K-4, and the Oak Meadow teacher assesses the student’s work, providing feedback and suggestions for future work.
- Then, from 5th grade onward, students are brought directly into communication and interactions with Oak Meadow teachers, as the home teachers step back to assist the student in taking on more responsibility and completing their work independently. By the time the student reaches high school, it is expected that the student will carry the bulk of the interaction with the Oak Meadow teacher.
- Starting in 5th grade, student work is submitted every two weeks, although high school teachers may arrange project-based work differently and abide by different submission schedules. The Oak Meadow teacher provides detailed lesson comments and grades. Individual suggestions will be given about what to work on in future lessons, areas needing extra attention, and tips for strengthening specific skills. The teacher also provides ongoing support via email or phone to answer any questions or concerns about the learning process or curriculum/lessons.
- Oak Meadow teachers send semester evaluations of each student’s progress mid-year (after approximately 5 months), and at the completion of the course (after approximately 10 months). These evaluations become a part of the student’s official school record, maintained in our office, and are transferable to future schools.
Oak Meadow offers a Preschool course based on an artistic and imaginative perspective on early childhood. It introduces you to a solid foundation in the principles of learning, and then shows you how to apply these principles while playing, learning, and growing with your child. The program includes morning circle, nature walks, sand and water play, singing, finger plays, bedtime rituals, and storytelling. It’s a delightful course that gently establishes rhythms of learning that will benefit you and your child throughout the schooling years.
The course is presented in two volumes: The Heart of Learning and Learning Processes. It also includes additional materials to introduce your child to a wide variety of creative learning activities: a CD of preschool songs, set of beeswax block crayons, watercolor paper, paintbrush, and three tubes of watercolor paint. In The Heart of Learning, you will discover the core principles of learning, based on a deep understanding of child development and a respect for natural rhythms and learning styles. In Learning Processes, you will find guidance and instructions to help you get the most out of activities in art, music, nature play, and storytelling. Learning Processes serves as a teacher training manual, while The Heart of Learning provides inspiration.
The Preschool course will guide you to create a daily structure that breathes comfortably with your child’s natural rhythms, and will help you to better understand the needs of your child so that your experience as a parent can be as enjoyable as possible. It also helps you understand how to easily include younger siblings since the daily rhythms of learning fit naturally into your home life. Whether you have a three-year-old who wants to “do school” alongside her 2nd grade brother, or a two-year-old who wants to imitate your preschooler, the Oak Meadow Preschool course will help you create a lifestyle of learning for the entire family.
Will I receive documentation that I can provide to the Department of Education that proves my child is enrolled in an accredited school?
Upon enrollment, we provide a Provisional Certificate of Enrollment for you to keep with your child’s academic records. This provisional certificate will be replaced with an Official Certificate of Enrollment within 90 days of the enrollment start date, pending the receipt of all required forms (such as the student profile and policy acknowledgement form), the submission of student work, and teacher verification that the student is submitting work of sufficient quality to be considered “in good standing.” Both the provisional and Official Certificate of Enrollment are official school documents that state that your student is enrolled in an accredited school.
Your local Department of Education or school district should be consulted regarding local laws and distance learning regulations, and they may require a copy of your Certificate of Enrollment document. We also recommend consulting the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which is an excellent resource for parents who are trying to navigate their state’s regulations regarding homeschooling.
Will my student be able to continue working with the same teacher when she completes 8th grade and moves on to high school?
We get this question a lot, mostly in the form of, “We love our teacher! Can we keep working with her in 9th grade?” Students usually remain with the same teacher through grades K-4, and grades 5-8. Once students enter high school, they are assigned subject-specific teachers, one for each discipline. Usually a high school student will work with the same English teacher for four years, the same social studies teacher, etc. This allows the teacher to get to know the student well, and provide on-going support, encouragement, inspiration, and motivation.