Teachers are very engaged and very effective. They make learning enjoyable! My child was always coming home and sharing something interesting they learned about in class that day. The best measure of a teacher's effectiveness is whether or not your child loves learning. Ours definitely does!
Other than 20 minutes of reading with parents and a weekly spelling test, and a monthly-ish parent child project our kindergarten student had NO HOMEWORK. Which is entirely developmentally appropriate and exactly how it should be.
Yes, though it might not look like it since it is not a pressure cooker teach to the test kind of place. Children are gently encouraged to persist through challenges without being demeaned or treated as less than if they struggle in some areas.
Children are welcomed in all play and learning activities. The community agreements include the right to participate so no child is ever excluded socially or academically. Children are also taught to focus on each other's positive attributes and strengths by sharing appreciations with each other at the end of the day.
Great things about AALC:
Warm and Welcoming culture. This is very much a family friendly community made up of educators, staff, students, and parents (and little sibs!) who believe in inclusion, acceptance, and diversity.
It's a great place for quirky kids who might struggle socially in more traditional school settings. Kids learn respect and acceptance from the start. My son has Asperger's and is accepted wholeheartedly.
The model of education at AALC is holistic, age appropriate, hands on, and low tech Childhood is respected. Your child is seen as a person, not a potential test score. If your kid has an issue, AALC works with your family to find a solution.
Classrooms feel warm and welcoming. Teachers are gentle but firm. They really care about and enjoy working with their kids! And the parents!
Monthly field trips and take home parent-child projects related to topics taught in the classroom. Two half hour recesses a day! Art and P.E. twice a week.
Hands on learning centers. Reading Buddies program. Great curriculum choices. Leveled instruction for math, reading, and spelling with opportunities to move up when material is mastered.
Geo Ed: Each classroom has a garden! See the blog at http://aalcgeo.blogspot.com/ for more info on this awesome program.
Downsides (bc nothing is perfect).
No busses. You drive and pick up.
No hot lunches. Kids bring their own.
Sometimes school doesn't publicize events well enough though this seemed to improve as the year went on.
The Art Teacher keeps every thing til the end of the year. Specials teachers could do a better job communicating with parents about what kids are doing in their classes. Art is really important to our family so we actually do like knowing!
No sports teams due to budget and insurance costs. AAPS Rec and Ed sports programs are open to county residents though if you have a kid who loves sports.
The playground could use a more accessible play structure.
The one major thing I don't like is the early start time: 8:15 a.m. is when classroom instruction begins. This is not ideal for my child but we make it work because AALC is worth it.
*Some people might be leery about low tech but keep in mind even many Silicon Valley parents limit tech in elementary because its better for brain development.
We had to leave this school due to frantic teacher turnover.While the overall ideals and education are aimed at the whole child everyday functionality of this school is lacking.The are and music classes although existent they function as clandestine entities in the school .The principal is nice but does not implement changes required by parents.Math is most kids weakness and display of kids frustrated over a math problem is common sighting on the hallways.Drama program taught by the Art teacher is great.Gardens are great too.The music teacher is good but overwhelmed.
I love this school. My daughter was there from kindergarten through to grade 8. The community structure is incredible, parents and students alike both feel it. My daughter has been taught how to learn here rather than just go through the motions. She learned to think independently and to question all things. I feel the community agreements here have fostered individuality rather than conforming to those around you. This is a fabulous school from having older kids mentor younger kids to working in the community garden. I searched for a school where I knew my daughter would be challenged, safe and to learn to love school and learning and that is what I found at AALC. The teachers are wonderful. It was a total positive experience for our family.