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K-8
Private
Aliso Viejo, CA
Students enrolled: 132
Before care: No
 

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2A Liberty
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656

School website
(949) 510-4861
(949) 435-7466
Nearby homes for sale
Map of Vandamme Academy address.

April 28, 2015
My child was a student at this school. We were impressed with this school and its director but as time passed, I concluded my child and parents in general were not being treated respectfully. This was not immediately obvious to me, but traced back to things said by the director and to other parents. This is a mediocre education, advertised as far superior to anything else in the market. In our family's experience, it was one of our all-time worst investments.

- submitted by a parent

October 31, 2014
Fantastic school! It is like a family. The teachers and administration adore the kids as much as the kids adore them. They are helping raise these kids into respectful, knowledgeable, helpful little humans. They think of the child as a whole, they don't just focus on math and reading. It's a small school with big achievements.

- submitted by a parent

October 30, 2014
I can not say enough great things about this school. My son is growing so much and i could not be more grateful. The woman who started the school, has such success in making children fall in love with learning. The kids are engaged and have a ton knowledge in history, science,art history, math, and English! The no homework is such a blessing. Kids are required to read and study for tests, but other than that, the families are free of homework. The class sizes are small and the school does not comprise on class sizes to make more money. I have younger children begging to go to vda. The only thing missing is a vda preschool =)

- submitted by a parent

June 17, 2014
My son started VDA this year. It has been an amazing experience. It has changed our lives. We no longer have the stress of homework. We are able to enjoy our evenings being a family. Also, my son does not complain about being bored in school . Everyone is very caring. All of the teachers are very accessible. I would recommend this school to anyone looking for an alternative to traditional school. Also, the small class size is very beneficial. Mrs. VanDamme really cares about her school. The ttuition is very reasonable and it is worth every dime.

- submitted by a parent

May 30, 2014
This is our first year and we could not be happier. The teachers are enthusiastic, the academics are challenging and meaningful. Heavy emphasis on writing and critical assessment, our child is really learning to break down material. They emphasize the process of learning, and provide tools and reinforcement to do so. Our son has been very challenged and improved in large measure. When he leaves in the 8th grade, he will be well prepared for High School. Our son is happy to go to school there and does not complain. The Director and staff have a strong vision and stick to it. They could improve a little on consistent methodology from new teachers. Homeroom teacher process is effective, and they provide a point of continuity for parents and students. Class time is rigorous and focused, time out of school does not need to be spent on silly projects. Not a lot of parent involvement, which we prefer as working parents. Overall, a wonderful culture, nice kids and families, passionate leadership, all overwell run and organized school.

- submitted by a parent

May 19, 2014
There's so much good to say about VanDamme Academy, but my favorite of all is the fact the students are not taught down to, and I think this makes it particularly fun for them. This is true across the subjects but particularly visible in the literature curriculum, which features works I would read myself or already have enjoyed and can now discuss with my child. There's a palpable joy of learning in the air here, and excitement about what the next day and next assignments will bring. If your child has the "I don't want to go to school today" (or ever) blues, VanDamme may well be the cure.

- submitted by a parent

May 13, 2014
After researching schools for the kids, we moved to the area specifically so our kids could attend the VanDamme Academy. I haven't been disappointed. The depth and principled approach to teaching have been surprising, even given the high expectations I had coming in. I'd recommend the school to any children and parents looking for an alternative to education as it exists in most public and private schools.

- submitted by a parent

May 13, 2014
Van Damme Academy is a wonderful place for children to realy learn and connect with their teachers. They are learning true content and developing critical thinking skills that will help them be better students and life long learners. My children are excited about going to school each day. They are engaged in their studies and with the small classroom sizes are able to engage with their teachers. The teachers seem to love their jobs and their students, so it is a wonderful atmosphere for everyone.

- submitted by a parent

May 13, 2014
My kid goes to this school and I couldn't be happier. He loves everyday he is there. The academics are thought in a way that the kids love to learn. I also love the no homework policy.

- submitted by a parent

May 13, 2014
This school is one of a kind. Well priced, well rounded and well staffed. They value children, education and families. Lisa van Damme is a god sent that shapes children into upstanding people who love to learn. She listens to parents and makes everyone feel important. She does not play the money talks game that most private school play. It is a low drama pausitive environment that provides families with the chance to enjoy their children with out the stress of homework and gives them the gift of love for learning. As a former teacher, I have never seen an environment like it. I can't say enough good things about the wonderful place . The only thing that could improve is a pre k added to the school, only because siblings are dying to start the VDA journey.

- submitted by a parent

May 12, 2014
It is hard to find enough superlatives for this school. My son has now attended for two years, and is SO happy going to school every day. What's more, he comes home brimming with excitement, and is routinely challenged to think more deeply about a variety of subjects. The instruction is nicely personalized, with increasing challenges provided as needed. While the schools history, grammar, and english have received (deservedly) glowing reviews from others, I want to highlight the wonderful hands-on approach to science. At first I was a bit skeptical, but the intuitive deductive/historical approach they have taken has really provided a wonderful base for his future studies, and he loves it all! Like others, I wish the school expanded to include high school.

- submitted by a parent

May 12, 2014
Prior to attending VanDamme, our son wasn't learning anything at another very well known private school. The curriculum there was mediocre until we found VanDamme. The teachers are great, constantly challenging the kids, but most importantly, they make learning fun! My kid has never been so excited about going to school. The individualized attention each child is getting is superb. We can't wait for our second child to enroll in the fall

- submitted by a parent

May 12, 2014
Vandamme Academy is a one of a kind school. The primary goal of the school is to educate your child, not to have them memorize and regurgitate information. They do not teach your child how to take multiple choice tests but rather to construct a well written, grammatically correct and thoughtful essay for all subjects. Our child has been at the school since 3rd grade and is now finishing 7th. His growth as a person and student has been remarkable due to the attention, caring and expertise of his teachers. Many students and admissions directors at private high schools all say that the students that come from VDA are the best prepared freshman that enter the school, I can see why. My sons math teacher has turned my son from a student not that interested or particularly proficient at math to a straight A student that is now passionate about the subject. The only negative that may be for some students is that there are only 16 students per grade. If your child needs a larger environment, this probably isn't your school. We feel very lucky to have found VDA and the visionary owner Lisa Vandamme.

- submitted by a parent

February 11, 2014
VanDamme has been a blessing. Prior to coming here, our child was in the public school system. Unfortunately, our child wasn't challenged and the school could not and would not provide him opportunities to grow. Whereas the school he came from taught to the lowest common denominator, VDA treats all their students as individuals. The ability to move up or down in a subject area based on skillset enables all children to grow at their own pace. Because of the rigorous academic curriculum, there is never any downtime, or talk about fundraising during "instructional minutes". Every minute is focused on teaching in a loving way. My child is a new child. The no homework policy enables us to spend quality time on extra curricular activities without having to waste on time on non qualitative homework (I.e. worksheets after worksheets). How many first graders can say they got the chance to sit with an upper class during the dissection of a cow's eye for science class? How many of them learn about US History vs getting a coloring sheet of Christopher Columbus? What we get at VDA is top notch education and worth every penny (as I mentioned before never a word about fundraising!)

- submitted by a parent

February 07, 2014
Wonderful school, my child is very happy there. Academics are very rigorous, but the kids have fun learning. Diverse student body is a rare find in Orange County.

- submitted by a parent

September 29, 2013
This is a very special school. Our kids love going to school as the atmosphere is joyful and serious about learning. The school is also sized right for our kids, not too big and not too small. They have friends from their own grades as well as other grades. We see improvements in all subject areas. We are happy about the curriculum, the teachers and the administration. The director is open and available to parents. We feel fortunate to have found this school.

- submitted by a parent

April 15, 2013
We moved to the area in order to enroll our child in Kindergarten at VDA, attracted by the educational philosophy (check their webpage and YouTube for details). I'm happy with the results so far (2 years in) and delighted with the teachers and staff and their sense of mission and cheerfulness. The no-homework policy is very special. It applies to parents as well. Typically with an exceptional school there is a good deal of extra time and money sought from the parents. This clearly works for many great schools (e.g. in the Northeast). But it's a relief that at VDA the extra-time-and-money is truly optional for parents. Neither does the administration work to pump up their waiting list to attract newborn applicants. VDA is a relaxed experience for students and parents. And yet the students leave the school after 8th grade, with their writing skills at the college level. No sweat. After all, they practice writing (and math, etc.) at school for years. Step by step, they hone their craft (at school, not in front of a blank computer screen at 9 pm the night before an assignment is due). It should be this way at all schools.

- submitted by a parent

March 26, 2013
Children who have been taught by VanDamme teachers emerge with superior academic sophistication. They are taught to analyze literature, science, and the arts with meaningful discussion. The teacher turnover is low (we've been there for amost 6 years) and every new addition to the staff is always a positive one. My 3 children never complain about going to school and I never complain about the no homework policy. My kids are happy and well-adjusted. I credit the school for keeping them intellectually stimulated while allowing them to still maintain the innocence of childhood. There is no other school that could compete with the excellence of VanDamme.

- submitted by a parent

March 05, 2013
I wish we had discovered VDA sooner, but at least our daughter got to attend for 8th grade. Like some of the prior commentators we regret that it only goes to 8th grade. Our daughter had serious surgery at the beginning of the school year that has impacted her to date. However, the school has been incredibly supportive and flexible, all while maintaining a first class program with caring, involved faculty and staff. The academics are first rate and the great teachers and small class size combine to keep the students interested and the achievement high. We are very grateful for the efforts of the entire staff.

- submitted by a parent

February 27, 2013
We have had a wonderful experience at VDA. Only regret is that it doesn't continue through high school. The academics are top shelf. The teachers are enthusiastic and creative. They know how to make the subjects interesting and fun so that the students are engaged. The director is always available to listen to any concerns, and she has always been willing to work through any unique concerns we have had with our child. As my daughter says: "There are no bullies here." Can't say enough great things about this school.

- submitted by a parent

February 26, 2013
I feel like that won the lottery ticket to find this amazing school. I never heard about VDA until my friend recommended me. I don t recall seeing any ads on magazines. They don t need to advertise because they get students from word of mouth. To me it is a good reputation. The faculties are so professional in their own subjects and they know how to get to these kids to learn since they are so passionate with subjects they teach. They are warm, sincere and have sense of humor so naturally attracts students. I love the director who is always ready to listen to your concerns. The school has no weird politics and no ego what so ever. In academics they are well above average but they never put pressure on the students. Nothing is forced on them. I have a special concern for my older one and they are taking care of it like their own child s problem. My older one experienced trauma from her peer and teachers in her last two schools but her painful journey is rewarded now by VDA. Aca This is the first school that I felt I could trust every single teacher for my kids physical and emotional safety and knowing that they are learning in their best way.

- submitted by a parent

February 26, 2013
VanDamme Academy gets our top rating! Not only do the teachers have great educational backgrounds and experiences, they engage the children in the class with topics I've never received in my public school days. Before moving to VanDamme our children attended another private school and when they would come home from school and we'd asked them what they had learned their comment was stuff. After attending VanDamme topics at the dinner table are all about what they learned in history class, one of their favourite classes, science, literature, math, art history and they share them with incredible enthusiasm. They are proud of the knowledge they are gaining at VanDamme and are eager to go to school. When having troubles grasping certain concepts the teachers make sure they understand the material before moving on. They want the children to learn, not just memorize and get through the day and then drown at home in homework. We actually have more family time together since most of the learning is done in the hours they are in school. This has allowed them to pursue after school activities that they enjoy. VanDamme has always been supportive of our children and truly want them to learn.

- submitted by a parent

February 26, 2013
Very happy with my son's schooling at VanDamme. Before he started in K-1, he was a really shy kid. Fast forward a few years later and we get people complimenting my son after having a conversation with him. I usually hear how mature he is for his age, how engaged he is while talking, and how he doesn't respond with "kid-like" answers upon being asked questions. It really is a true joy to experience.

- submitted by a parent

February 26, 2013
We didn't find VDA until my daughter was in the 8th grade and my only complaint is that it doesn't go through high school. The teachers are wonderful, they motivate and inspire the students to apply themselves while challenging them. They are professional yet approachable and they truly find a way to meet the need of each individual student. I can't say enough about what a wonderful experience this year has been. I am sorry we didn't find VDA sooner.

- submitted by a parent

February 25, 2013
Up until law school, I had attended public school my entire life, including the University of California school system and had always been proud of my public schooling. We selected Irvine as a place to live, with the hopes that our children would attend public schools, and they did initially. We volunteered and had no intention of transferring and were reasonably satisfied. A close friend encouraged us to tour Van Damme Academy many times, so eventually, we gave in, mostly out of curiosity. Well, our interest was piqued, and it led to more visits and interest. Sitting in on a science curriculum overview, I found myself wishing I had the same tteacher myself. We brought our older son to VDA and had him sit on a class. He liked it, we enrolled, and have been so impressed with the quality of the education, the incredible enthusiasm of the teaching staff and administration, and couldn't be more pleased academically. Our son comes home excited about his learnings and I feel it has been such a positive aspect. I love how different teachers focus on different subjects. I recommend a tour, we never would have changed to a private school without experiencing in person.

- submitted by a parent

February 25, 2013
My child really likes the school, and equally importantly, is benefiting tremendously from it. I am very impressed with the carefully considered curriculum, and its application: potentially overwhelming activities like taking notes, or writing essays, are broken down into understandable building blocks, and gradually more independence is expected and encouraged. The results are a wonderful mixture of increased ability and increased confidence. I can tell that my child's interaction with the world has changed due to the education they have received: they understand (and like) grammar, comment on origins of words, think about where the sun is relative to the earth to give certain shadow patterns on (phases of) the moon, and are excited about knowing history, and appreciate its relevance to understanding today's world. Their mental environment is richer and more complex as a result--the sign of real education, and not simply memorization. In addition to superb instruction, the school works to provide a safe learning environment, proactively addressing potential conflicts between students. Overall, I highly recommend considering the school if you appreciate a classical education!

- submitted by a parent

February 25, 2013
A miracle school. We visited twice while looking at every school in OC and were blown away both times. Our two children have now attended for 2 years, and we are so grateful we made the decision to enroll. Our kids are excited to go each day. Afterwards, they speak animatedly about their teachers, and sometimes literally fight to be first to tell us about what they learned. The teachers are extremely engaged, employing a Socratic method, and the results are obvious to anyone who looks in on a classroom: students raise their hands eagerly, hungry to participate in discussions. Subjects are explored in depth, and with a view to their connections to other subjects--all of them falling under an umbrella theme for the year--thus creating a complete educational experience rather than the typical fractured, short-attention-span-inducing model used by so many schools, public or private. VanDamme has developed a pedagogy that is at once serious, high-minded, classical, enriching, and enjoyable. The big question is: where will my children go once they've graduated from VanDamme. Everything else in the county seems to pale in comparison.

- submitted by a parent

February 25, 2013
I wish I had the writing skills of the VDA graduates (or even those 4th graders in current attendance) to express my appreciation and respect for the institution and the teachers for providing a place of LEARNING for my children. All three of my children thrill at the prospect of their day spent here among their peers and genuinely motivated faculty.

- submitted by a parent

August 18, 2011
Had one good year here, then one terrible year that was a complete waste of time and money -- it just depends on what teachers you get. There is no consistency, and the administration disregards all parental concerns. There is a huge revolving door, not just with teachers, but students...every year there are a lot of dissatisfied families that leave, with good reason. It's unfortunate because the school has potential, but needs an infrastructure and administration that actually cares about the students, not just the select few "stars" that are exploited to make the school look good. Don't be fooled by all the promises when you tour the school, they're just intended to get you in the door. And beware, the sample student work they show is that of their "chosen few", don't expect that quality.

- submitted by a parent

March 09, 2011
My son is a freshman in High School and attended Van Damme for the 3 years of Middle School. All of his high school courses are Accelerated or Honors and he was supremely well-prepared by VDA. Several times he has remarked that his high school classes are "easy" because they do not require the thought that Van Damme required.

- submitted by a parent

January 13, 2011
Lack of consistency is a big problem. Although my kids always loved class, there were years where things seemed off. Sometimes a teacher wasn't as knowledgeable as the rest, or assignments didn't seem to really be the best quality. Whenever my son has trouble with a high school math topic, its good odds that that topic was taught the year he had one of the one-year-and-out teachers that happens now and again. They have the right idea here for sure, but don't always carry it out.

- submitted by a parent

September 16, 2010
Routinely, people who meet my daughter ( an elementary student at Vandamme Academy) will comment on how alive and thoughtful she seems compared to other kids her age. Proudly I say that she has a genuine sparkle in her eyes. Her school plays a large role in that. She is confident of her ability to think through ideas in various topics, excited to learn about how the world works, an avid and thoughful reader who loves to discuss the characters in her books, and not intimidated by new subjects. Vandamme academy teachers have nurtured her mind with their well thought out lessons and their passion for education. My daughter has blossomed there. As a parent, that is exactly what I want a school to do.

- submitted by a parent

August 22, 2010
VanDamme Academy has been a wonderful experience for our daughter. Students are taught in a thoughtful and exciting way. The teachers are forthright and genuinely interested in what is best for each student, I have seen the teachers work to identify the unique learning styles of each student, This creates an exciting and safe place for the children. As a parent, I have always felt welcome in the school. We could not be happier about the choice of attending VDA!

- submitted by a parent

August 19, 2010
Not only are our children getting an excellent education, they're happy. Our kids are receiving a solid education in core subjects, which are taught in a fun and dynamic way by enthusiastic, loving teachers. Subjects are taught hierarchically and are integrated so that students can relate what they're learning in one class to what they're learning in other classes. My kids understand why the things they're learning are important. They soak information up in school like sponges, talk about it at home enthusiastically, and apply what they're learning to their everyday lives. As important to me as the academics is the accessibility of the teachers. I love that my kids are at a school where the teachers respond positively to my feedback. My kids' teachers understand that each child is different, and they have adapted to my kids' different needs and learning styles. It's been a great experience.

- submitted by a parent

July 25, 2010
I am so grateful for this school. My children are receiving the sort of education I thought no longer existed. They learn history (real history!), they devour classics of literature, they excel in math, they are captivated by science, they write better than most adults I know--and all this within school hours. Our evenings are for personal passions, fun, and quality family time. Thank you, VDA!

- submitted by a parent

July 25, 2010
Imagine a school with little to no homework, bustling hallways of eager, academically challenged students, and teachers who are dynamic, educated, and passionate about their work. This best describes the average day at VanDamme Academy. The constant forward thinking of the director has resulted in inferior duplications of the program across southern California none of which have proved to be as successful as VDA. The school has demonstrated that education doesn't have to be a chore and summers needn t be spent on academic camps to catch up for the next year. Instead, VDA instills a lifelong love of learning in every child. I have no doubt that my children will be aptly prepared for whatever studies they pursue in the future all due to their educational experience at VanDamme Academy.

- submitted by a parent

March 29, 2010
Disappointment and frustration led me to do something I never thought I would pull my child out of school mid year. She was struggling and there was no one there to help her. I don t understand how that can be possible in such a small class, but there we were every night with tears looking over the homework! I spoke to the principle more than once and she was very dismissive. The staff seems to have blinders on to what they don t want to deal with. After I watched many friends leave the school last year, I thought it would still be best just to stick it out rather than change schools so close to high school. I m glad we are finally making a new start.

- submitted by a parent

March 24, 2010
I am sorry to say that my teen will soon be graduating from the VDA. Over the last seven years she has come to expect that every school should be just what the VDA is: challenging, exciting, even giddy. How many of us, as teenagers, got up before our parents did each morning, excited to go to school? Say whatever else you will about this school--it has had its share of growing pains--but any school that prepares students to excel at whatever comes next and keeps them motivated at the same time is star.

- submitted by a parent

February 11, 2010
I was disappointed that this school did not fulfill the high expectations that were set in the initial tour. At first blush this school was so much better than my child's previous school, that I was blown away. But I realized that better than mediocre (our public school) is still not great. In recent years VDA has taken cost cutting measures that have greatly reduced the quality of education and forced me to look elsewhere. Inexperienced (part time?) teachers were hired who did not know what to do. Also, combining multiple grades in one classroom resulted in children repeating material, even though the director assured parents that would not occur. That was more than a year ago, and my child is happily settled in a new school that has lived up to its glowing recommendations from friends.

- submitted by a parent

January 10, 2010
I have very mixed feelings about my experience at VDA. Positively, there were many teachers that stand out as dedicated, extremely knowledgeable, and enthusiastic. However, there are always a few teachers who are part of a revolving door system. Those short-lasting teachers do not have the academic background or class experience necessary to perform at school standards. If my child has two sub-par teachers out of seven, what happens to those two subjects for the year? Positively, the school does an excellent job of using the school day wisely - no busy work, no fluff. This means kids are motivated during the day and relaxed after school. However, the school often focuses on a few star students at the expense of others. This is very subtle (as most of the students are very bright) but this attitude hurt my 'star' child as much as it hurt the other students.

- submitted by a parent

November 07, 2008
Balance, inspired learning and time for family. This school exceeded our expectations in delivering on its promise to teach our children in a way that would keep them motivated to learn and progress faster than they would in a more traditional school. More importantly, we have time for life outside of academics. There is no nightly grind to get things done nor is there tons of paperwork to remember to bring to school. We can participate in outside activities, have dinner and get to bed at a reasonable time. This school is a gem.

- submitted by a parent

October 27, 2008
Our son has been attending VanDamme for two months now. I have spent many hours in the last two months and have been amazed at the classes. Our son was going to the gifted school in Los Angeles and his work now is much more advanced. VanDamme does not waste the children s time with teaching things they do not need. My son is learning History, Math, English, Science, and Geography. These are the basics that he will need in life. The teachers love what they do and they kids can see that. I am very happy about our move to this school. If you are considering this school, you need to attend and see for yourself. I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised.

- submitted by a parent

October 23, 2008
VanDamme Academy's director and teachers are caring, committed, and passionate about ensuring that the kids really learn the material rather than simply learn how to spit back facts they've been told to memorize. Ms. VanDamme understands that parents pay her to educate their children; she and her wonderful teachers do not hand their responsibilities off to the parents by overwhelming the children with homework after the school day is through. (Who among us likes to take work home after a day at the office?) While VDA has limited extra-curricular offerings, the fact that on most days the children have no homework means they have plenty of time for their own afterschool sports, art, music lessons, and just being kids. That is as it should be. Socially, the kids are very respectful of each other. Bullying, whether physical or emotional, is simply not tolerated.

- submitted by a parent

October 22, 2008
Rigorous, back to basics, classical curriculum without unnecessary bells and whistles. Scrupulous attention to getting children to trully understand and digest the material. Dedicated teachers. Children focus on learning english (grammar, literature, writing), math, history & geography, science and art appreciation.

- submitted by a parent

October 22, 2008
My daughter will graduate from the Vandamme Academy in the not too distant future and when she does she will take with her everything I could have hoped for: she is intelligent and knowledgeable beyond her years; she is confident in her abilities, critical in her thinking and she has strong values she is passionate about. Whatever college she attends and whatever work she chooses, she goes prepared to succeed and enthusiastic about the possibilities. This is all thanks to the Vandamme Academy, its concise curriculum and its incredible staff.

- submitted by a parent

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Vandamme Academy
2A Liberty, Aliso Viejo, CA  92656
(949) 510-4861
Last modified Vandamme Academy is a Private school that serves grades K-8
Vandamme Academy Rating: 4 out of 5 based on 49 reviews. Top