Ignore the reviews from mid-february. The family school facebook group decided to wage a war on people who didn't like the school. My son (5th) and daughter (1st) are trapped at the family school because of a custody situation I'm in with my ex wife. She enrolled the kids at the family school and because we have joint custody, I can't move them unless we agree on it. Why do I hate the family school? My son is struggling and I have yet to find a way to successfully get the school to provide an appropriate education. When you have a child in 5th grade who does not know his times tables or how to add and subtract by 10's, the school makes excuses like "People will just use the calculators on their phones in the future".. Well, thank you! I'm so glad that you're writing off any possible future my son might have that requires him to be able to do math in his head. Thank you family school!
After reading the previous reviews I felt the need to share our experience. Our son, who is now in 2nd grade and has attended Family School since kinder, is on the autism spectrum and we have actually found it to be a great fit for him. Although I could see how it may not be a great environment for some children on the spectrum depending on their individual challenges/strengths, we have found it to be an environment in which our son is allowed to be his quirky self and the staff and students are very accepting of his unique and sometimes challenging behavior (this doesn't mean he gets away with disruptive, inappropriate behavior). He is doing very well academically and we are thankful for a school where children are looked at more individually and are allowed to be creative.
My son was at a nearby school where he was getting instructions on how to read based on a curriculum that the Title I staff knew how to teach. They never deviated to something else even when their students weren't improving. My son started hating to read. I moved my son to Family School and they taught my son from his level of reading. They tried different ways of teaching reading. One year later here I am with a son who loves to read again. The teachers at Family School do not just teach what was told to them to teach. They are true professional teachers that reaches the kids at their level, and teach multiple styles to reach all learners. By the way the other school is now being watched for their scores not being improved. Any issue your student has is carefully discussed by the staff and other district perfessionals to do everything possible to not only teach kids but to give them the foundation of being a well rounded member of our society. Thank you to all the professional teachers and staff at Family School!
I cannot say enough good things about Family School. My kindergartner hated preschool, and we feared he would despise school. But he absolutely loves it! He begs to go to school when he's sick and asks to do schoolwork in his free time. I volunteer occasionally in the kindergarten classroom, and I'm consistently impressed with the instructor and her assistant and the high level of parent involvement. I love that the focus is not primarily on students' sitting at desks and doing worksheets, since research has shown how detrimental sitting is for human health and brain development. The kids are often up and moving and engaged in a rotation of different small-group activities. They learn to work together and speak in front of each other at the same time as they're introduced to academic concepts. My son's math and reading skills have improved exponentially since he started school, and so have his inter-personal skills. When we walk into the Family School hallway each morning, it's hard not to smile. It's a wonderful, happy place, and we feel fortunate to be a part of it. I wish more schools would adopt Family School's successful model of instruction.
A parent new to our school approached me with questions about some reviews she read here. I'd not heard of the site, and when I read what a few people have posted I was surprised at how their experience differs so much from my own. Family School has been a blessing for our family. I have two children in family school, and one who looks forward to doing so in a few years. Entering Family school at kindergarten, our eldest was met with kindness and understanding, and the support he needed to master skills he finds challenging due to some developmental delays. Having the same homeroom teacher for his 1st-3rd grade years allowed for regular communication on his learning progress, and a sense of comfort and safety in a familiar home base at school. Now a fourth grader, he's progressing well in school, and looks forward to learning more.
Might be a good fit for kids with ADHD, but not a good learning environment for the rest. Certainly children on the spectrum should avoid this confusing mass of chaos. I'm disappointed given the schools report cards to find academics are subpar, and the older elementary children are cliquish and snotty. A lot of under the radar bullying at this school with mostly spoiled middle class families masquerading as hippies. I suppose it's great for the inner circle, but hardly a family environment for the rest. There are other nearby schools with far more family oriented activities and a more diverse group of kids, making it more likely yours will find their niche.
I had three children at Family School until 2012 (1st-8th, -7th and -4th grades). Multi-age classrooms helped each of them. Having the same teacher for three years helped with both instruction and parental communication by not having to deal with a different teacher every year. Parent involvement and participation in activities broadened the curriculum our children were exposed to. Monday morning music was parent-led, and Outdoor School and Field School had lots of parent participation. Hiring a PE teacher allowed implementation of a very hands-on and individual student-focused reading program. Some parents taught the afternoon choice time classes. In the afternoons, the kids could choose an activity based on their interests, and the activity would incorporate core elements of the curriculum (e.g. measuring for math). What brought home to us the great preparation they received there, however, was when we moved away from Oregon. Teacher after teacher here praised our children for their internal motivation to learn and their emotional intelligence. Elementary school is where those skills are learned, and Family School does a great job of instilling those values in children.
The family school is a joke for students with special needs. My child was not reading or writing legibly at the end of 1st grade. I was assured that it wasn't a big deal for students at the Family School and the teacher assured me that my child would read when she was ready. After failing to succeed in school by my standards, and after multiple failed IEP's we transferred our student to Meadow View school in Bethel. She has been at Meadow View since Christmas break, half way through 3rd grade. In 2014 (6th grade) she now finally at a point where she doesn't need an IEP (only a 504 plan for some lingering issues related to dyslexia). All of the other parents who had kids with special needs at the Family School seemed to have transferred their kids to neighborhood schools as well. It is my belief that this is how the Family School keeps such high ratings. The Family School is probably fine if you A) Don't care about your child's education and only care about their exposure to counter-culture or B) have a child smart enough to succeed anywhere regardless the quality of the instruction provided.
This post is at end of the 2013-2014 year at Family School. My son was in the kindergarten class and we were very very disappointed. I hear the other grades are better but we are not going back. My son now "hates" school. Both the teachers there were unorganized and unkind and rude on numerous occasions to children and parents. Their communication between each other and with the parents was maddening. The lead teacher regularly failed to follow through on things that she told the children. The family school vision of teaching to individual strengths or learning styles was missing from the kindergarten class. The classroom was challenging for sure and yet it was not met with adaptations to the specific situation. Both teachers often got into power struggles with kids over small issues like fidgeting in circle or keeping hands in lap. The teachers need for control was great and the children's excitement for learning got pushed to the side. They did do a good job at guiding emotional intelligence and acceptance of differences. Overall, though, the kindergarten environment was confusing, very inconsistent, and harsh. Principal did not follow up with parents.
This is our first year at Family School. I'm disappointed that it seems so impersonal. It's rather like a middle school for elementary age kids with children having different teachers for different subjects. However, there is no curriculum night as there is in middle school so you never meet the teachers other than the homeroom teacher, and you have no idea what your child is doing with the remainder of their day or with whom. I find it ironic that the name is "Family" School because it feels much less like a family than a traditional school. I think teachers are more invested in students that they have all day simply because they know them so much better, and students in turn are closer to their teacher. Academically it remains to be seen, but I have concerns that multi-grade classrooms mean kids aren't getting a full curriculum for their grade. I thought perhaps the monthly all school meetings would be where one would meet teachers, learn about what's going on in classrooms, and find out about their child's progress, but those are nothing more than PTA meetings dealing mainly with money issues. Not the family I was hoping for.