Straight From an Arches Parent
Check out what an Arches Parent has to say about his child's educational experience both at a public school and here at Arches. Then come see us for yourself!
We asked Chris a few questions and here are his answers:
What wasn’t working for you at your previous school?
I think our experience is probably really typical of most parents with kids in public schools.
Our oldest son is now in 4th grade, but we enrolled him at Arches in February of his 1st grade year. Our son had a good kindergarten teacher and then his progress fell apart the next year with a teacher that really struggled, even though she was “teacher of the year” one year earlier.
There were a couple of things that pushed us to find a better choice for our son’s education:
Public school teachers are not always motivated in a way that is in the best interest of my child. At the end of kindergarten my wife asked the teacher what things we could work on over the summer with our son to prepare him for 1st grade. The teacher said she used to give out information but the 1st grade teachers got mad at her because they are rated on the improvement between the student’s baseline tests at the first of the year and the end of the year and the further behind the kids are at the start of the year the better for the teacher evaluations.
Half way through 1st grade, our son was still reading books and doing math homework that he did in kindergarten. .
His teacher had about 30 students including one very disruptive student. Our child was not behind, so he was not a priority. Good kids can become invisible.
The only contact we had with the teacher was parent teacher conference where the teacher would promise changes that didn’t happen. We didn’t know the principal, nobody knew us.
Our son went from excited about school to ambivalent about school to disliking school.
When asked what he did at school, the answer was always “nothing.” At first we thought that was just the typical kid-not-communicating thing but we eventually realized he was right.
We found we were spending a lot of time with him after school trying to supplement his lack of learning at school with extra reading, math, executive function skills, etc, because the school wasn’t doing it. We felt a big imbalance with the school having him 6 hours a day doing little and then us trying to make up for it with more learning after school.
He was frustrated. He wasn’t happy.
Our son was in 1st grade and we asked ourselves if this is what the next 12 years of school was going to be like. Rather than just let his education happen by default we decided to take control of his education and find a school that would inspire him to excel.
What difference have you seen in your child’s learning at Arches Academy?
Wow, Arches is such a different experience! Once experiencing Arches, we learned what real education is.
When we decided nothing was going to change at his public school, we moved our son to Arches in February of his 1st grade year (now he is in 4th grade).
We quickly realized several things:
The students at Arches are excelling and ahead of kids at other schools, not because they spend their lives doing homework, but because real, effective teaching leads to success.
The school effectively uses school time. I no longer have to supplement my child’s learning at home.
We learned quickly all of the things the public school wasn’t teaching; spelling, science, history, specialty classes, etc. The first week at Arches our son came home with a spelling list and we were surprised to learn that 1st graders were already doing that and for some odd reason his last school wasn’t.
The topics my son is now learning about are broad, not narrow.
He is now getting recognition for his good work which further motivates him.
As parents, we frequently receive feedback from the Arches teachers. We don’t have to wait for parent teachers to know what is happening.
Our son is excited again about learning. When we ask what he does at school, we get a list of things. We no longer get the “nothing” answer.
The class sizes are smaller and our son doesn’t become invisible. The teachers engage with him. He answers questions and participates.
Singapore Math works!
Leader in Me works! (7 habits for kids) The teachers and parents use the same vocabulary to teach kids the 7 habits and integrate those into their daily lives. It’s fun to hear the kids use the 7 habits lingo with each other.
Leveled learning is crucial. The old school taught to the middle or just below it. At Arches, my son’s math group moved along so well that they kept them moving right into the next year’s math material and they finished 1.5 years of math in 1 year. They weren’t held back from their natural pace.
Our son is happy. Now that he is in a great school, we realize he wasn’t happy before.
So, that is our experience with our first child that transferred into Arches. We’ve also had the experience of seeing our 2nd son start at Arches in Pre-K and move through to 1st grade today.
Things we have seen with our 2nd son starting at Arches compared to our first son’s experience at public school:
Starting in pre-k and then all-day kindergarten our 2nd son has been introduced to subjects he wouldn’t get elsewhere. He loves speciality courses, mini-courses, and the diverse field trips.
He thrived with all-day kindergarten. The variety of classes and subjects kept him engaged throughout the day and he loved it. He would frequently try to talk us into leaving him in the after school program. All-day kindergarten was not an option for my 1st on at the public school.
Concepts are introduced much earlier, at an age appropriate level. Examples: spelling, reading, homework. Not burdensome levels, but enough to start those ideas rolling.
He reads very well for his age. His fundamentals are solid.
Leveled learning allows him to excel. He is a year ahead in math. This isn’t because he is pushed hard, it is because he isn’t held back.
The regular classes plus mini-courses and specialty classes at Arches have naturally guided him to love learning about new things.
What would you tell another parent to encourage them to consider enrolling their child at Arches Academy?
I would say it is too easy to let our kids’ education happen by default. We don’t need to settle for a mediocre education for our children. I think there’s the temptation for parents to think that public school was good enough for us as parents so it must be good enough for our kids. However, times have changed, society has changed, schools have changed, education has changed, competition for jobs has changed. If I can give my kids a better education than I had, that’s what I want to do.