You'll find that your child needs to be a middle of the road kid or they will be neglected. When we felt our son wasn't being challenged or engaged, they implied we simply didn't get just how awesome they are. We trusted them for too long and should have taken action sooner. Only after asking to see the work products and showing how he was doing more advanced work at his previous school, was he then engaged. Unfortunately, once you question the staff, it's over! Ms. Vandamme is beyond reproach and even said in our first meeting that this type of questioning usually doesn't end well. The unengaged kinder/first grade teacher spent an inappropriate amount of time with her older daughter attending the school. The situation was exacerbated by the administrator Kate attempting to cover for the poor performing teacher. A common theme for all that have left the school is that Ms. Vandamme and her staff consistently refused to take any responsibility and consistently blamed the parent or child for a bad experience. There are much better schools in the area. Don't settle for unfounded arrogance, unengaged teachers, and a substandard outdoor play area.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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The Community Rating is the school’s average rating from its community members (e.g., parents, students, and school staff). The highest possible rating is five stars; the lowest is one star.
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