“In the last 4 years, my children have experienced three very different school arrangements; a large city elementary classroom, homeschooling, and Crawford Bay’s multi-grade classrooms. While all three were good experiences, I feel that Crawford Bay School is offering my kids all the best features of the other two situations and much more.
Our Calgary school had wonderful, caring teachers who taught the curriculum with a “Learning through the Arts” philosophy. They sometimes worked on projects that linked together what they were doing in one subject with what they were doing in another (such as Language Arts and Social Studies) and the teachers worked together collaboratively. Every class room was a split grade classroom and the younger students were mentored by the older ones while the older ones learned leadership skills. There was a very active parent council that worked hard to fund materials and resources that were beyond what the school board provided. That said, there were usually 30 students in a classroom and there were times for both of my children when the individual attention that they required was not available. The system worked well for the “norm” but not so well for students outside the norm.
The decision to homeschool for us was not a rejection of the conventional schools, but was a means to continue within a school system while we traveled. It had its challenges (I am not a patient teacher!) but mostly I loved it and think the kids benefitted greatly from the experience. The best parts were being able to make the learned material relevant to real life (for example adding and multiplying fractions was for baking and for carpentry) and for being able to let my kids choose the direction that their studies went. A question or a good book could lead to following a new and exciting path that would captivate them because they chose it. During that time, I was able to identify a few shortcomings in their education so far and be able to tailor the curriculum to work specifically on those needs. Being able to travel, the individual attention, realizing that learning opportunities are all around us all the time and the self- directed learning were huge benefits of home schooling. It was wonderful, quality family time and I’m so glad we had it, but both kids were ready to go back to school and have more peer interaction again.
What I like about Crawford Bay School is that it combines the best of both of the other two learning experiences. The classroom sizes are small, but still multi-aged. The teachers are innovative and enthusiastic. I feel like they really know my children, their strengths and their weaknesses, and seem to enjoy them. The Expert Projects in science allow the students to pursue a subject that interests them and become the teacher of it for the other students. I love the Full Cycle Food program that has had Daniel in the kitchen and in the garden with wonderful adult role models; and I love that the other teachers have worked with him to accommodate his time out of the classroom for this program. I think the Mentorship program is brilliant for encouraging students to think about what they want to learn and empowering them to do it; and also for bringing the community into the school and the school into the community. I think that the way the second language program is set up to offer so much choice (French, Spanish and German!) and the math programs that are self-paced encourage the students to be independent with their studies; a skill that will carry them through post-secondary education and all through life. There have been travel opportunities to broaden my children’s perspective of the world as well as canoe trips, skiing and overnight hikes. The variety of options (woodwork, drama, art, computer programing, etc.) available to my children in such a small school astounds me regularly and I can’t say enough praise for the amazing staff that bring it all together.
I’d be willing to bet that when my kids look back on their education, they will see their Crawford Bay experience as so much more than reading, writing and arithmetic. They will see their teachers as interesting and interested adults who cared about them and helped direct them to become the well rounded and capable people that I think they will be. I believe that they will see not necessarily an education that taught them a lot of stuff, but an education that taught them how to learn and how to take control of those learning opportunities for themselves. As a parent, there is not a lot more I could ask of a school.”