Starting in January of the prior year, the curriculum for our enrichment classes is developed by first meetings with parents, administrators, employers, teachers, and college advisors and asking the following questions:
We use these goals to design our enrichment classes for the following year. The one theme that comes out most strongly is the wish that their children could better handle frustration and setbacks. We design our enrichment classes so that children experience complex problems, and are likely to fail several times on the way to success. This builds a muscle internally that helps them navigate life better - experimenting over and over until you find what works.
We also start writing the curriculum for our enrichment classes in January of the prior year. The founder, site directors, and teachers collaborate to design the classes. Our teachers go through a teacher leader certification program with training modules, professional development and in-class coaching. We provide 40 hours of professional development with our teachers using the curriculum throughout the year. Our director of programs and the founder (me) also spend 20-40 hours with teachers in the classroom, doing coaching, to create the best possible learning experiences possible. We feel this combination of goal oriented curriculum development and robust professional development creates a stellar atmosphere for meaningful learning.
Success without Stress: We teach children to manage their academic lives with less stress. Working as a team, we teach children how to be organized, calm themselves before tests, and manage time so homework doesn't take up too much of their free time!
Can Do Problem Solving Attitude: Whether it be figuring out a math problem, a friendship conflict, or how to design a bridge, we teach children to figure out what is causing the problem, and encourage repeated experimentation to find a solution. This is a tremendous core skill to have in life.
Creativity: We don't see creativity as just filling a blank page, but thinking of new ways to figure things out. We trust that children will bring strong ideas to the table, thereby bringing a higher quality of creativity out of each child. We care about their interests and passions, and they get a chance to integrate them into the curriculum daily. Because we limit computers to homework, and creative pursuits, the children have time away from media consumption to become creators!
Perseverance: We do not feed the children cookie cutter assignments, but expect them to try over and over to make something work. We don't think tears are necessarily a bad thing, if it teaches a child how to keep trying to overcome frustration to succeed. We have seen children transform in this area, from easily overwhelmed to calm tenacity.
Communication Skills: Because we present daily, and have many opportunities for children to lead activities, we hear that children participate more in the school day as well. In addition, children learn strong team work, through daily team activities.