I am impressed with the academic program offered by Oak, which is tailored individually to each child. My 6 year old son is incredibly bright, but needs improvement in social development. Oak was able to recognize this, provide us with additional support to improve my son's social support and at the same time, offer my son enrichment lessons that could challenge him. The style of learning the school adheres to is the Reggio Emilio style of learning. Children are encouraged to explore and learn not just from textbooks but from exploring their community. The academic lessons my son receives actually exceeds the public school requirements, partly because the class size is small and kids have more opportunities to learn in this type of environment. My child loves coming to school each day!
The school's approach to academics reaches the whole child and that is the program's greatest strength. The 3Rs are implemented in a way that the children can actually thrive rather than be beaten into the ground with challenges on material they may not be ready to understand. Significant learning takes place through projects, which touch many topics to give a multi-dimensional view of the subject - for example, in self-directed learning about the Taj Mahal, our son learned about history, architecture, a husband's love for his wife, and square roots ! The science curriculum is wonderful and interesting and fun ! Lots of hands-on experience is ensured by having a specialized teach this topic in many novel and interesting ways. Our son's math skills have improved drastically because he is taught in a way that works for him. The staff are also patient and motivating with his struggles with reading, but nothing is dumbed down, instead the children are lifted up. The amount of outside time that the children get daily actually improves their ability to learn significantly. The reason we value the school is that it is not a "box" and they don't try to fit our son into a box - teaching is organic but not in a ungrounded, impractical way. Yoga is part of the curriculum which helps calms the children's minds so they are more able to learn.
The school follows the regular Ontario curriculum, but adapts it to each child's learning needs. In the classroom, then, all students will be learning about similar topics in different ways and depth depending on their needs. Students' strengths are used to help them work through their challenges. Group or pair work is also used to help students stretch their skills. The mediums used to transmit information and learning are varied, ranging from use of technology, experiential learning in the school with guests or going outside the school grounds, to texts and books tailored specifically to each student. This fosters a positive atmosphere as the learning is interesting for students and makes them want to go further into topics. Learning, and participating actively in the school community, is seen as important by the students which makes them eager to work and explore the world. I am sure that the academic program at Oak Learners will prepare both of my children very well for whatever step comes next. Both of them have learned more than they have in any other school they have been in.
Oak Learners' strengths include personalized adaptations to the teaching curriculum, character building in the context of a positive values system, a good balance across areas of individual development (academic, athletic, artistic, etc), and application of techniques and ideas well-grounded to scientific educational research (as opposed to creativity without any scientific testing). A point that could be perceived as a weakness is the organization's limited size of the student body (whereas some parents might see this point also as a strength). A slightly larger student body would offer even more socialization options for all children. Both our son and daughter have met several new friends in summer school at Oak Learners and they both wish their summer friends came to Oak Learners during the entire academic year :).