Thursday, May 8, 2014

Parent Perspective: Finding the Right Model of Education for Our Child

When I look back at all of my educational years spent in school, I know for certain I learned best while in medical school.  My school was one of the first adopters of a problem-based learning curriculum.  This meant we learned about the human body and condition in both its normal and its diseased state in a multi-disciplinary and multi-system approach.

We often learned in smaller case-based groups where we explored our knowledge through examples and active questioning of one another and our teachers.   It was a synthetic, integrated, hands-on and collaborative approach to learning.  It made sense to me and organized my learning and understanding of medicine in an accessible format.  It also set the stage for what medicine and so many other professions demand--the foundation of asking questions in the journey of life-long learning, approaching problems from various viewpoints and working and learning together in collaborative teams.

When we moved to Los Altos over 10 years ago, BCS was in its infancy as a school in our community.  As our son approached Kindergarten age, I took the time to explore and learn more about the educational philosophy and methodology of BCS compared to our LASD home school.  

BCS offers a collaborative learning environment
for all students

I asked lots of questions of friends in our community at BCS and our district school, attended back to school nights at both schools and was excited to have the opportunity to tour BCS and spend time learning from the principal about BCS in more detail.  I knew the curriculum and educational approach at BCS was my first choice for our son given my own educational experience.  

The problem-based and hands-on learning spanning school years and disciplines was exciting and innovative to me, and I suspected it would be for him as well.   Although my husband and I felt our son would likely thrive at either our LASD school or BCS, I truly hoped he would secure at spot at BCS in the lottery--which he did.  

As we near the end of our son's first year at BCS, we are thrilled our collective experience so far.  Our son comes home every day from school excited and happy and exhibits a passion for learning across all areas of his Kindergarten experience.   My husband and I have met and become friends with families who share the same excitement about BCS , education and the learning opportunities  BCS provides for our children.    

The diversity of families is most definitely representative of the Los Altos community at large--highly educated and informed parents who care about the education their child receives.     

As a pediatrician in the community, I am well aware that many of our surrounding communities have choice/lottery schools.   I know many families from Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Mountain View who are thankful for the choice in their public education--be it a language immersion grade school or a school which has an alternative educational model compared to traditional district schools.  All of these educational choices are lottery-based opportunities, and families can decide whether it is  an educational experience  they would like to explore and then enter the lottery for their child.  
Students benefit from fully integrated curriculum
in every grade from K-8

As parents we know that all children learn and thrive differently from one another in various school and learning settings.  Sometimes we don't know which type of school will best suit our child until we actually begin the educational journey with our child.   Having  fluidity and flexibility in our choice is an option every parent  desires and should have for their child.  

I have known families who have made the choice to change schools to BCS for their child, and I have known families who have made the choice to leave BCS for their child.   The reasons embedded in each choice are unique to each child and family.  But having the choice is so very important for our children and families in Los Altos. 

 Cara & Dave Barone