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Oakwood FAQ

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1: What is Oakwood Enrichment Academy? Oakwood Enrichment Academy is both a place and a community. It’s a venue where students can interact with one another and experience the joys of group educational programming, while benefiting from the time to work at their own pace at home. It’s also a community of families with the same passion for learning and desire to be a part of their children’s educational journey. We make time for each other with regular Friday social outings, and endeavor to provide opportunities on program days for parents to meet up to share experiences and support. Our monthly Festivals are a very special part of our programming, which really bring our educational community together. We offer two days of in-person group enrichment instruction, as well as an optional “Math Monday” program and scheduled Friday family activities. We desire to be a bridge between the home learning and group-learning environment, so students can have the opportunity to build new relationships while broadening their learning horizons.

2: How is OEA (Oakwood Enrichment Academy) different from a traditional classroom experience? We employ a collaborative learning approach throughout all of our activities in order to provide an engaging hands-on learning experience, full of opportunities for social growth. Rather than compete for grades like in a traditional program, students work and interact in multi-age groupings to accomplish something as a team, or discuss a topic in-depth. OEA weaves together academic subjects into broad “unit study” themes, allowing students to gain deep content knowledge. Into each of these themes are woven enrichment opportunities in areas such as STEM and the arts. At the same time, students benefit greatly from one-on-one instruction at home with a parent or tutor. Skill-based subjects such as math and writing progress rapidly when the instruction is matched to the student’s unique style and pace, as less time is wasted sitting through lessons that are either over their head, or repetitive. We feel that the hybrid model is the ultimate path to a strong, well-rounded education, as it allows students to benefit from group exploration and direct group instruction on-site, as well as enjoy the freedom of independent and parent-guided learning on home days.

3: How is OEA different from other enrichment vendors? Our program aims to serve as a community hub for the homeschool experience, offering more than just socialization and the subjects we teach. In addition to classroom learning, we hold monthly “Festivals” that build traditions for students to look forward to each year. We provide opportunities outside of the program to meet for field trips, serve within the community, and develop relationships outside of our in-class days. We are a community of people and resources that exist to help families grow and thrive in their own homeschool journeys.

4: What do the daily, weekly, and monthly schedules look like? We encourage families to spend their Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings working on core curriculum. About three hours each morning, depending on the grade level and focus of the student, can be plenty to get skills-based learning in, so that afternoons can be filled with enriching “out in the world” activities. We also recommend that students read aloud daily (any content), as part of their routine. Our program meets in person on-site from 10:00-3:00 two days a week. In class, students may work on a single team project for a big chunk of the day, or multiple projects, building steps toward clear learning goals. We always share literature, from picture books to historical fiction, to bring our focus of study to life. There are scheduled snack, lunch, and recess breaks throughout the day, and students also attend an American Sign Language class. We enjoy outdoor learning opportunities whenever possible, such as outdoor reading sessions or gardening experiences. “Math Monday” 1:00-3:00 is a program addition that families can opt into, for an additional private-pay fee. Students bring their own math curriculum from home and receive group and 1-on-1 tutoring, either working within their own curriculum with help, or receiving small group lessons inspired by the work they bring in, using math manipulatives and other enriching methods.. “Family Friday” is a time for families to meet up outside of the program for field trips or socializing. While optional, Family Friday is an important component of our program, and we urge everyone to keep their Friday afternoons, usually 2-4pm, open so that they can benefit from this important community-building element of our program. On the last Thursday of every month, we invite families to a Learning Festival. Some examples include Pumpkin Festival, Science Fair, and Oakwood Olympics. Festivals usually run 1:30-3:00, and refreshments are organized by parent volunteers.

5: What academic subjects do you offer? We employ a cross-curricular model, meaning students will get a bit of everything with us, within a theme often referred to as a “unit study.” Projects will offer opportunities to apply skills that were learned at home, such as math, grammar, and writing skills. See the information below about specific areas we spend time on. We help to fulfill requirements that may be required from charter schools by utilizing highly engaging interactive and standards-based notebooking in History and Science, that can be photographed for work samples. Parents should request to view these if they need them, as they typically stay at school until the end of the year. Additionally, we offer classes in ASL (American Sign Language), as well as music and art. Our students get to experience a broad range of enriching experiences. While students deep-dive into their unit studies at OEA, parents assume responsibility for student’s basic skill-building: reading, writing, and arithmetic.

6: What curriculum is used at OEA? We have chosen curricula from various sources, following our own unique scope and sequence, based on our teachers’ unique experience and gifts. Some of our learning materials and classroom structure, particularly in the Lower Elementary (Grades 1-3) originate from the Montessori method, which helps facilitate movement and individual choice during parts of class meetings. You can be sure that we leave the heavy lifting to you, the homeschool teacher, as far as any sensitive or controversial content. When we naturally arrive at a topic that we expect you will want to teach at home, we will let students know that it is an at-home topic, as well as let you know, so that you can fill in the needed content. Any topics that are currently hot in political debate are expected to be addressed at home rather than at program. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math. STEAM challenges are often our student’s favorite activities, as they must bring together all of these skills in a team activity where students must solve a problem or engineer a project. We use a program called Science Doodles to build interactive notebooks tied to our hands-on experiences, and reflecting common standards for that age range. Math concepts are taught through practical application, rather than through a sequential math curriculum, so that students have the opportunity to apply skills they are working on at home through a structured program of the family’s choice. Arts- Art is the “A” in STEAM, but it is worth mentioning that we often integrate the arts into other areas of our program, whether it is to create visual art inspired by a book we just read, making music, or putting together a theatrical performance, art brings learning to life and creates memorable experiences. History- History is primarily approached through the springboard of historical fiction (BookShark, Brave Writer, Book Seeds, or Beautiful Feet ), which brings the historical period to life for students, and provides an anchor for our unit studies. We then provide factual background, and study the relevant geography, events, and historical figures surrounding the story, following the students’ interest. For grades 1-3 we use History Pockets and Book Seeds to learn about people and events from the past. For grades 4-9 we use a program called Student Savvy to create interactive History notebooks, and often link STEAM challenges to our history theme. Geography- We investigate physical, cultural, and ecological geography as a tie-in to any literature or history studies. Grades 1-3 use the complete Beautiful Feet’s “Around the World With Picture Books” in class. Our International Festival every April is a way for students to focus on the culture of a particular part of the world. All classes will spend a lot of time with maps and globes, getting acquainted with the continents and ecosystems found on our amazing planet. We use some Montessori materials for learning geography in a fun, hands-on way. Literature- Literature is chosen from: Beautiful Feet Books and Brave Writer for Grades 1-3, and Book Shark, Brave Writer, and Torchlight reading lists for Grades 4-9. We weave investigation of grammar and writing mechanics into our literature studies, as well as crafts and other activities related to content. Many of our literature choices are linked to the history or science unit study we are following, so these subjects are taught in the same part of the day. American Sign Language- We are proud to offer American Sign Language as a stand-alone second language course, offered every program day. Character- Through collaborative experiences, character training is woven throughout the day. Learning together provides the opportunity to practice teamwork, cooperation, empathy, respect, courage and resilience. Students take this component with them into their futures, and maybe even to get along with siblings at home!

7: Does OEA require me to purchase or use any certain curriculum? We provide a list of “OEA Recommended Resources” that we encourage families to purchase on their own for at-home work. You will receive this when your registration payment is received. While we provide these recommendations for at-home curriculum, and sometimes offer take-home activities or print-outs to use at home, parents remain the primary architects of their homeschool programming, and are free to make their own curriculum choices.

8: What are the academic expectations for OEA students between class days? We aim through all of our in-class and community activities to inspire a community that pursues challenges and loves learning. How you approach this at home will look as unique as your child. Your student’s overall academic programming will be as rigorous or relaxed as you make it. We offer a weekly “Goal Sheet” to enrolled families to help keep you on track with necessary skill building, and you can modify this to fit your needs and curriculum specifics. While our instructors sometimes send home beneficial activities for you to use at home, nothing will be graded or “marked” by our instructors at PL. You have the option to work in-depth with students to make corrections to their math work, require academic reading and follow-up at home, or thoroughly edit successive iterations of writing projects. Other families may opt to take a more relaxed approach to student feedback and skill development. Our classes are designed to enhance the homeschool programming that parents are leading at home, not replace it. We trust that you know your child best, and want to support you in your educational decisions.

9: What does the role and obligation of the parent look like? We always want to stress that you, that parent, are the primary teacher. We will never tell you how you must homeschool your child. Our goal is to partner with you and encourage you. Our classes help support your homeschool journey two days per week, while you are the one making the choices to structure your home days any way that you would like, and tracking your students’ individual progress. Because OEA does not mark up or grade a student's work, this responsibility remains with the parents, and is something that you should be prepared to take on. Parents who need assistance in this area might seek the help of a tutor, subject-specific instructor, or their assigned charter school instructor during home days.

10: Can I stay with my student in class? Are parents expected to participate or volunteer? This program is an opportunity for students to gain some independence, and we find that their experience is most meaningful when they come to class without parent accompaniment. That said, we welcome brief observations by parents who want to know how their child is doing. Please anticipate your child wanting to go home with you after the observation. Due to classroom size restrictions and the potential for distraction, siblings may not be allowed to sit in on these visits. Additionally, we embrace those with educational aides that assist their in-class experience, and always make space for those adults to be present as needed. We would love for you to participate in growing the OEA program. It is a community effort, and is impacted for the better each time a parent pitches in. There are many ways to be involved, from volunteering for festival refreshments, a campus cleanup day, handywork, or helping with tasks in the office. Please let us know what special skills you have! We are always grateful when those with resources can help with facility improvements or materials donations. Please check with the director for more information, or check out our OEA Wish List.

11: Why do you have children in multi-age groupings, and how does that work? Collaborative learning provides opportunities to work with others possessing varying gifts and abilities. As in adult life, there will always be others more and less skilled than oneself, and learning to work together and accomplish a task in mixed age groups helps students to understand that differences are a wonderful and expected part of community functioning. By having the opportunity to be the youngest, oldest, and “middle” child in the class over three different years, students are given the opportunity to take the perspective of others, learning to both encourage and be encouraged. Our 3-year age groupings are Lower Elementary: Ages 6-9, Upper Elementary: Ages 9-12 and Middle Years: Ages 12-14.

12: Can I sign my student up for individual classes or single program days? Our core program meets two days per week, and our daily schedule incorporates an integrated approach on these program days that would be disrupted by attending only one day a week. All Oakwood students must be registered for both of those days. “Math Mondays” are an additional optional program that can be joined a month at a time. Students must be enrolled in OEA to participate in Math Mondays and “Family Fridays,” though we occasionally have Family Fridays that we open to visiting friends.

13: What if my child is not at grade-level, or is above grade-level? If your student is not working at grade level, we can discuss placing them in the appropriate class, though with our mixed age groupings it is usually not necessary to. Students can be placed in a lower or higher grade-level classroom if it is a better fit academically, provided they will also be successful at that level socially. Our teachers endeavor to provide differentiated instruction at all levels in our mixed-age classes. Every student is able to take something away from the experience, even if they are not reading at, or otherwise working at, that grade level. We also emphasize the importance of an atmosphere of acceptance, so that students with learning differences feel supported and appreciated during the collaborative learning process. Mixed age groupings help with this tremendously. Advanced as well as older students gain from taking on a leadership role in their areas of strength.

14. Can my student attend if they have an IEP? While the short answer here is yes, we work closely with families to find out if the student will be best served in our general education classroom and if our staff is able to accommodate any additional needs. Learning differences such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, spectrum disorders, or delayed development do not usually pose a problem in our program, as students have their own special skills that they can bring to the team. We are more than happy to work with independent personal aides that students bring with them to the program. The more a teacher knows about the students’ learning challenges the better, and we are happy to do our best to make accommodations with the resources we have available. Most often, the director and family will work together with a specified “trial” period to make sure our program is a good fit for the family and for our staff. If a student has an IEP for behavioral challenges, the OEA program will most likely not be a good fit, because the child isn’t in our environment consistently enough for us to guide behavioral changes. We do reserve the right to deny enrollment based on potential behavioral concerns.

15: Are make-up days offered? We make every effort to hold our classes as scheduled throughout the entire program year. Sometimes, due to events beyond our control, we have had to make the decision to delay our program start day, close early, or cancel a program day altogether. This usually occurs due to weather-related issues where it would be unsafe to expect staff and students to arrive on the program day, or get home safely. There is also the possibility that several teachers are ill at the same time and we do not have enough coverage to provide a safe program. When this happens, we will notify our families with as much notice as possible. Unfortunately, due to limitations with our contracted sites and staff schedules, make-up days may not be available. If a student misses a day of program due to illness, travel, or for any other reason we are not able to offer a separate make up day.

16: Will you refund missed program days or if we have to withdraw from the program? We are unable to issue refunds. Monthly tuition reserves your child’s seat in the program, and a new family is not able to take the open spot until the beginning of the following month, so we are not able to offer refunds for withdrawing mid-month.

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