REVIEW OF Oak Learners BY parent, Tanya Fudyk
- Date of Review
May 04, 2022
Gr. 4 - Gr. 5
(4.5) Student Experience
As a neurodivergent learner, my child is met with a flexible learning environment with a much lower student to teacher ratio than most schools. I love that the staff at Oak Learners are positive and happy to see my child everyday. He can have harder days and the teachers and principals work with me to try to come up with solutions. There is no judgment and everyday is a new day. The principal of the school, Kelly is an excellent communicator and gets back to me right away if something needs to be discussed. Academically, most learning is hands on as opposed to sit down with a piece of paper (although there is that component too). And academic work is individualized to where my child is at. There is also tons of outdoors time, which my kid definitely needs! If you are looking for a school environment that is non- traditional - hands on and supportive- Oak Learners is great. Because it is a smaller school, all the staff know all the kids. I would say that they serve neurodivergent learners well.
(5) School Leadership
The administration at Oak Learners is its strength. Because all the kids have such different needs, they really try to understand each situation separately and make changes based on the specific issue. They try to be proactive to prevent further issues as opposed to reactive which so often happens in other school systems. You can have as much or as little communication as you find is needed for your child. My kid has done some pretty outrageous things and he is always welcomed back with no judgment.
The teaching at Oak Learners is more hands on I would say- there are a lot of good opportunities to do community based projects- such as building a model of the community and writing a letter to the mayor about a needed crosswalk. The teachers who are there do seem passionate and enjoy different types of children. They are easy to talk to. There is more traditional academic time each day - but exact work done during this time is maybe ambiguous. The progress reports are well done and informative and provide a more qualitative view of progress. I do generally feel my child receives the support he needs but sometimes bc of his own inflexible nature it can be challenging to get traditional academic work from him.
The academics are quite hands on - which often involves building, art, using different materials, and working together. There is some academics but it does not look like a traditional academics where the kids sit at tables all day. So that does take a little while to adjust to that model of teaching. The academics are individualized to where your child is working and for my child- they provide him with one to one support when he needs it so that prevents a lot of frustration. He also likes the school now bc he knows he is not expected to sit at a desk all day and be told to sit down and "no" about everything. So it really is a new way of learning.
Personally, my child can handle any activities above the typical school day- so we were never interested in extracurriculars. However, I know there are a a wide range of activities offered outside a normal school day that are for a cost. Since these activities are sent to us- I do find there are many we would participate in if our child could do more than school day.
The students at Oak Learners - especially day school ones- seem to be largely neurodivergent- with differences such ADHD, ASD, LD. The staff have to adapt quickly to different situations, which they do well. The great thing about Oak is that there is a feeling of acceptance there and they appreciate each child for who they are. Because it is a small population-there is not a wide range of students at this point- however it seems to be growing. Because the student population is quite small - groupings of the children can be tricky at times. However, I would largely say that the relationships my child has developed have been quite sibling like- with ups and downs but definitely with acceptance of who they are.
(5) School Life
My child does love school at Oak Learners . It is SO much more positive than his last school where there was a great deal of negativity and reactive intervention as compared to being preventative. At Oak my kid can make a mistake or have a really bad day and the staff will collaborate with us to try to come up with strategies to prevent the same problem from occurring. And he knows the next day nobody will hold anything against him when he has a bad day. Their acceptance of individual differences really is a great strength of Oak Learners. As well, school life is flexible and if my kid is late - I don't panic as I know there is no judgment- same with picking him up.
The broader community has been very nice so far. However, given the past 2 years of the pandemic, it has been a challenge to plan things at times with other Oak Learner families given different lockdowns and restrictions. The administration always makes an effort to introduce parents to one another and as much as they can they have tried to plan a few outside events during these times. All the other parents have been nice and have their own stories to share about their individual experiences. Since it is a private school- kids do come from different areas - so it also can he a challenge to set up playdates. I feel like the staff is always willing to talk to you about your kid's school day if that is what you want. If not- they are also okay with just giving you the essential information.
(4.5) School Location
We really enjoy the surrounding neighbourhood. The kids often go on adventures in the community and often walk to lakeshore or to many different parks in the community. There are so many places to explore. They also do academic activities related to the community- such as making a model of it. I thought that not having a regular playground may be a drawback but it has actually been the opposite bc the kids get to experience many different places while getting tons of exercise.