November 11, 2015
To parents of twice-exceptional kids, this review is for you. By the way, the star grade is in relation to other private and public schools I considered. We are in our 2nd year at Helios, in the middle school. Helios excels in project-based learning, being a warm and welcoming place for highly sensitive children, SEL, and training/mentoring their teachers. Helios did a nice job of helping my son socially. I had to request the social help, but they did help in effective and natural ways and they paid attention to this issue over time. I have been fairly pleased with the teachers and administration and there has been no turnover in his core teachers. Helios differentiates very well in math and I love their math curricula. From what I can tell, there is no differentiation in teaching in the other subjects, but the curricula is advanced and allows children to “go deep” according to their interests. Here are my concerns, especially relevant to kids with learning differences: there is little instruction in or structured, reinforced help with organization and time-management. Helios’ strong respect for children’s choice and self-direction sometimes means that they do not push kids who do need to be pushed. Asynchronous kids often avoid their weaker skills, and Helios has not been successful in getting my kid to work on his weaker skills. This is not to say that kids with LD don’t need tutors or outside help but you want the school to set standards, so the child does not view the standards as artificial or parent-dictated. Teachers regularly give grading rubrics, but the rubrics are not sufficiently reinforced for my student. There is no real push towards excellence and doing your best. To prepare kids for high school and beyond, I’d like to see regular tests, practice in and instruction on note-taking, and the explicit teaching of study skills. Also, I’m not sure Helios’ usage of qualitative assessments is of benefit to 2E kids. Get an IQ test by someone who understands 2E kids so you have an objective measurement of your child. So, why are we still here? Helios is a good choice for us, even if it is not perfect. Also, when we were looking for schools, my son was most comfortable at Helios—we shadowed twice and both times when I picked him up, he was fully engaged and interacting. He told me without saying a word that Helios was the best fit for him.
- submitted by a parent