REVIEW OF Oak Learners BY parent, Jasmine Bush
- Date of Review
June 13, 2019
JK - Gr. 1
(5) Student Experience
For different reasons, our two kids love Oak Learners. The staff were very good at identifying skills each of them were strong and, and using these to help them better develop in areas they were finding more challenging. Our oldest has several challenges, and the staff were very quick to identify a path forward. She used to hate school and any type of school work, but has gained vital skills in the short time she has been at Oak Learners, and she has realized this. She is now very happy to go to school, and has a much more positive attitude. She especially likes the alternative aspect of the curriculum, which gives all kids a chance for much hands-on learning and outside time. The topics used for projects and learning experiences are relevant to children and of high interest, so we have often found both our kids coming home looking for information about something, or eager to tell us about a learning experience they had. Our kids, between them, have been in four different schools, and this is the first one where both feel engaged with and highly motivated to learn about what is being taught. We also love the small teacher to student ratio, which has allowed both of our kids to thrive and develop academically and personally way beyond our expectations.
(5) School Leadership
The school leadership is amazing. We have had some discipline issues with one of our kids, and they have all been dealt with respectfully, lovingly, and most importantly, with positivity and fairness. Issues were identified, plans and strategies developed and acted upon, consistently. This has also been the first school where our oldest continuously mentions that all students get treated the same way when issues come about; no one is singled out or made to feel bad or different. This aspect alone has led to tremendous progress, and we have found that behaviour issues we arrived with a few months ago have been eliminated altogether. The school leadership also has built an excellent team that works with all kids along the same lines, using a variety of research-based methods to help kids work through their challenges and overcome them. The atmosphere at school is always positive and energetic, and all of our concerns have been dealt with quickly and effectively.
Both of our kids are performing better, academically, than we ever though they would. The low teacher: student ratio, and the experiential learning, has meant that our kids see all learning as fun. The teachers are amazing: energetic, knowledgeable, and always willing to work with our kids and find out the best way for them to learn, no matter how much extra work that may mean for them. Teachers and leadership have also been great at identifying issues that we could work with at home or were in need of outside evaluations, and implementing different or new strategies to help students. Communication with teachers is open and effective. Any time we have questions or want some information, it is easy to reach the teachers. The feedback we have received about our kids has been objective, very detailed, and very, very helpful. Our kids have been moth challenged and supported, and this perhaps has been one of the reasons the school has been so great for them. The subjects they were good at before have become subjects they excel in, and the ones they found almost impossible before, at Oak Learners they are eager to work on because they have felt themselves progress. Once again, there is a consistent, upbeat, positive atmosphere to the school that definitely permeates the classroom and makes this a space where kids enjoy learning.
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.
There are a variety of extra-curricular activities offered at Oak Learners. The school doesn't foster a competitive atmosphere, which is one of the reasons we sought it out; having come from schools focusing on competitive games, we found that at this age such a focus does considerable damage to children. Activities the children participate in together deliberately foster collaboration and working together so all can succeed.
The student body is small but very cohesive. Students enjoy playing and working with each other, and perhaps because of the small size, learn to get along and develop deep friendships. They learn how to work through issues that come up, fostering important social skills. They are enthusiastic and welcoming, and there is always a happy atmosphere when we arrive at school. All of them are happy to see each other in the morning, and sad to say goodbye at the end of the day. Students have many opportunities to learn and play together, so quickly learn who they work best with, who are their best playground friends, and how to learn and be friendly with everyone around them. Both of our kids love being a part of the school community.
(5) School Life
Our kids love going to Oak Learners every day. Our oldest cries when she stays home when she is ill! They love Oak Learners for many reasons: it has helped them grow academically, and for our oldest who is now finishing grade 1, she has reached heights she never thought possible. She feels stimulated, engaged, and challenged, and most importantly, feels that she is supported and appreciated in all her efforts. Our youngest has reached above and beyond where he needs to be for his age, academically and socially. Both love the friends they have made here, they love the relationships they have developed with their teachers, and they love the experiential learning aspect of the school. Being able to be outside all year round has made them love their community and their environment no matter the weather, and it has helped them to learn so much about how the world works, and some basic life skills not generally taught at school but so vital for happiness and success.
We are some of the newest parents to arrive here and have found a very welcoming community. Since we are also new to the area, we have found parents to be extremely open and willing to help us set up after we have arrived. All parents are very involved in the life of the school, and are known to all of the kids, which further contributes to building a true feeling of community. The school provides many opportunities for parental involvement, from moments to come and enjoy student learning, to day-to-day experiences. We have many opportunities to reach out and interact, and our kids have had many opportunities to play with their school friends outside of the school hours. the school also is active within the local community, which has allowed our kids to meet and learn from a variety of people in various functions around the neighbourhood.
(5) School Location
We love the neighbourhood. The kids definitely use the surrounding area as part of their learning experience. The area is quite peaceful, with lots of places to explore and be around nature. The school has regular outings, not just to the immediate surroundings, but also in other parts of the city, incorporating their in-class learning. When asked, our oldest will say this is her favourite part of the school!