Its no secret that the education system in this country is in desperate need of a reset. If we could just CTRL-ALT-DELETE the system entirely, I'd bet many of you would vote "yes". In fact, this frustration over the mainstream model may be why you searched something along the lives of "alternate approach to education" and found yourself here. So, let's break it down and discuss what makes a program like Epoch a great alternative approach to the mainstream model.
Public schools are funded why the government and said government controls what's being taught, the pace it's taught, and determines what age each child needs to know ABC and XY=Z. Broken down further it's like this...mom and dad work hard and pay their taxes. Those taxes go towards public schools (whether they want them to or not). But neither mom or dad gets to decide which school their child attends, who their teacher is, what they want them to learn, or what the environment is like for their child. Then, as if that weren't bad enough, the schools are funded and supported according to attendance rates and test scores. The test scores are crucial for the school's budget and the teacher's salaries in each district. Why is this bad? Administrators set curriculum standards based on standardized tests and rather than allow students to think, research, or solve problems creatively, they require them to memorize information and regurgitate the information for the tests to maintain budget.
At Epoch, we follow student interests and set the pace for each child based on their ability level. We don't ask students to memorize data; instead, we invite them to think! Our students learn through rich, sensory experiences, stories, projects, art, and their relationship with their guides (ie teachers). Students have control over what they learn and how they apply it and the guide asks questions to stretch imagination and deepen student understanding of concepts.
Also, it's long been said that environment plays a major role in a student's ability to learn so why is it that students are still learning in cold, commercial buildings under fluorescent lighting at faux wood tables and desks? These students may only have art, music and movement for a brief period of the day when thousands of studies show the humanities ignite the parts of the brain and cause the wiring and rewiring of neurons to build the brain and ready it for abstract concepts later in life. And, if studies show that children need ample time outdoors and extended periods of high activity, then why do schools only allow less than half an hour of outside play time, require students to sit at a desk and not allow even quiet conversations at lunch time?
At Epoch, our students can stand at their tables, sit on the floor, do their reading on the couch in front of the fireplace, build igloos outside, lay down with a blanket during story time, chat and laugh with peers at the dining table during lunch and sometimes...okay, more often than not...they're laughing and playing like children should. Shhhh, don't tell anyone they get to play!
We take frequent field trips, go hiking, play jokes on each other, get messy, create art daily, perform plays, sing songs, and get silly. But, the best part is that they're learning at a more rapid pace than same aged peers. Many of our students have completed a year's worth of material in half the time. When they've mastered a skill, they move on. When they struggle, we change our approach and try to tackle things from another angle. We help each other and operate like a big family rather than a school.
Why does this approach work? Because the children feel safe and are happy! When children feel safe, loved and accepted, the natural processes of learning and child development can occur. Stress is not conducive to learning. Children will not learn when they feel pressured. They learn through play and conversation and when the material speaks to THEM rather than being government mandated.
We're halfway into our first year and I have to say- as the school owner/operator and primary teacher- I'm SO proud of what we're accomplishing in our little one-room schoolhouse. We've created a community of healthy, happy kids than can't wait to come to school and who are learning far more every day than they likely ever thought possible. In fact, one student said, "Ms. Chelsea, I think this is the best school I've ever been to in my whole life. I don't think my other schools really knew what they were doing." I'll take it!
Reach out to inquire about enrolling your child K-5 in 2023 at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Chelsea Vail at 512-680-1671