I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Child Mental Health Specialist in Whatcom County. I have seen first-hand the very positive and individualized ways in which WOL meets the educational and emotional needs of their students. The compassionate and collaborative philosophy-in-action of this very special school creates a healthy learning (and feeling) environment, yielding excellent results for a variety of students.
My son's school is awesome as they take as individuals into consideration and work with where your kid is at. Democratic, choice oriented but with c structure and allowing kids to be kids which includes the deep desire to learn.
Our family choose Wheels of Life so our child could have a more self-directed approach in his education. He was bored to death in Public school and asked daily why he had to go. At Wheels of Life he loves that he can give voice to the themes, workshops, classes, and field trip locations. He also loves the Monday Place Based Learning Ed, which is out in the world, real life learning every week. Wheels Of life is a beautiful school. No other place like it in Whatcom or Skagit county. They follow many education philosophies and are member of AERO Schools.
We were at the Wheels for three years. The free time was great. We loved that kids are helped through researching a topic, writing about it, making an art project or display, and giving a presentation to the other children and their parents. Unfortunately, we discovered once our child began at our new school, that he was writing three years below grade level. This, in spite of our nearly constant contact with Wheels staff about his writing. A couple of months at our new school resolved that problem. At Wheels he was not challenged nearly enough in math, which was very minimally taught. Preschoolers were brought in to fill out the low enrollment numbers with no consultation with the returning families who thought they were at a K-5th. The Democratic Circle" was used to have the children punish other children for health and safety issues that should have been taken care of by the staff and parents, not by 3-10 year old children. Communication was poor, leaving families to miss information, and sometimes entire activities, or pickup site changes. We were very excited about Wheels when we entered, but very disappointed by the time we left.
My son has only gone to Wheels of life school for one year (soon to be second year) and we already are so pleased with this school! His social skills were very important in the choosing of this school and he has gained more patients, understanding and is gaining that sense of community I had hoped for. Thank you so much ladies :) The creative activities and teaching techniques are amazing, I only wish my son had gone here before second grade :) he loves it, and we are extremely happy with WOL, thank you.
Wheels of Life has an all-around amazing approach to education. One of the highlights is the democratic philosophy. Children are involved in every aspect of their education, from choosing learning themes, which the teachers build lessons around, to participating in conflict resolution, to planning field trips. This approach encourages students to be engaged in every part of their learning, and above all, it teaches the kids to be responsible, not just obedient. Another high point about the school is the low student to staff ratio. There are around 20 students to three teachers. The multi-age classroom and home-like atmosphere are also benefits. I love that the teachers work with parents towards common goals with a child's learning. When my daughter started at Wheels of Life a year ago, she was at least a year and a half behind grade level in reading and math. By the end of the year, she was up to grade level in both subjects. And the best thing? She loves school. My daughter tells me that the teachers make everything fun. On weekends and school breaks she talks about how much she misses school, especially math "club," which is the Wheels term for math class. :D
Our son was done with pre-school but too young for kindegarden. He is very curious and physically intelligent. Wheels block learning approach with multiple age groups gave our son inspiration about what he could learn and opened his eyes to many great people and ideas. He did presentations on the maasai's relationship with there animals, he studied Leonardo da Vinci's art and science, he learned how to run a small business in an invented community, and he used what he learned about Jacques Cousteau to perform a play teaching his classmates about the manfish who used film to bring the mysteries of the ocean to the world. Our son is 5, and thanks to Wheels, he's in love with learning.