No homework except independent reading until grade 3. After that, homework is not meant to be kill and drill. Mostly project based. One example is a gratitude journal - practices writing and develops character.
Our daughter is thrilled to be at school. She thrives with the integrated curriculum. Each year, the school has a change maker and they build curriculum around it. This year, Benjamin Franklin is the change maker. In English, this ties to journalism and writing. In science and math - innovation and problem solving. In social studies, they focus on aspects of American history. Each level develops this theme in an age appropriate way.
Moreover, our daughter knows how to self-advocate. She knows how to RESPECTFULLY make her needs known as part of the 6 seconds SEL integration.
Academics- her reading and writing continue to progress and her math is ahead of our friends at other schools. She LOVES math and the teachers individualize math learning so that all kids are met at their level.
I have two new middle schoolers at Synapse this year, and they have never been happier. The faculty truly cares about their well being. I was amazed at how quickly they felt integrated and part of the community. In addition, the academics have been both challenging and engaging. I was surprised that, even without grades, my kids feel motivated to do well and do their best. Moving them to Synapse was a great decision.
My daughter is thriving at Synapse. This is a community that is kind, open, willing to take chances, and embraces new ideas. The take care of people here. Sure they are a new school, and schools are challenging places to operate. But their teachers are talented and bright, caring and compassionate, and the families are down to earth and are committed to a different experience for their children and themselves. They have doubled in size in two years, have brought staff from all over the country, have new, dynamic leadership, new programs like computational thinking and innovation, and are transitioning from a start up school to a school that will be leading the way for others. It's simply a fabulous community and I feel lucky to be there. My daughter does too.
It's hard to write this review. As the parents of a former Synapse student, we feel its our obligation to warn people. Synapse has strengths. Its a warm and nurturing school and the teachers really care about the students. But we decided to put our children in another school because we don't think Synapse is a good place for kids. There are no limits, many of the kids have emotional problems, the classes aren't challenging, and Synapse does a very poor job of preparing kids for other schools.
It's hard to imagine the child for whom Synapse is a good choice. The academics are poor, there's very little discipline, and the sense of smug entitlement radiated by the staff is astounding.
If you're considering it, look at how many of the "upper division" children leave for other schools, and look at the teacher and staff turnover. Both are scary high percentages, and both speak to the same thing: this isn't actually a serious school, but rather a very expensive daycare for your children masquerading as an educational experience.
We have mixed feelings about this school. It seems to be one of the few in the Bay Area that is not a pressure cooker of academic rigor, sticking to their philosophy of allowing children to love learning. On the other hand, the school seems to attract children who don't fit in other environments well because of classroom management issues, which can become very frustrating for students who do want to learn from teachers and each other.
Our older child has been attending Synapse for two years and LOVES it. He looks forward to school everyday. The teachers and staff are positive, caring and engaging. They pay close attention to child's needs, strengths and weaknesses, be it emotional, social, academical or intellectual. The open communication between teachers, staff and parents ensure that concerns are immediately addressed and have positive lifelong impact on the child. The students are curious and most have age appropriate deep and logical thinking skills. Each morning the teachers check in on the children's emotions and their progress during the day. This helps the children to be emotionally secure and confident which is fundamental for their social, intellectual and academic development. After a year at Synapse, our older child (who has been Mensa member for years) experienced an increase in his IQ score by 11 points, and is more mature and responsible. My 3rd child also attends Synapse this year. She used to resist new ideas for fear of failing and is now open to new ideas and voices her opinions and is really confident in engaging several adults at once in a conversation. Our children LOVE Synapse