One of our parents, Sharon, shares how her 6-year old son has grown socially and emotionally, thanks to a personalized approach. Here is their story:
What have your overall experiences been like at AltSchool?
AltSchool has changed our lives. Before AltSchool, my son wouldn’t participate in a group, rarely interacted with peers, and felt bad about himself. Now he’s become a child whose loves life, his confidence is growing and he shows great compassion for others. He’s happy every single day and has lots of friends. When I come home from work, he cannot wait to tell me what happened. His face lights up when he talks about school.
Why do you think he’s changed so much?
Without a doubt, it’s due to his teachers and the personalized approach at AltSchool. The first few weeks he struggled while adjusting to the new environment. When the class went to PE, he removed himself from the group and didn’t want to participate. His teachers partnered with me to understand why. They sent me updates over Stream daily with what they tried and what worked until they found a way to help him.
He was picked on at preschool and he is acutely aware if people are judging him. With this knowledge, they worked hard to get him to realize that there’s no judgment and that he is part of the community where everyone is accepted. If he brings something to their attention, they thank him for sharing then show him that they are doing something about it. He is now interacting just as much as the other children. This is just one example of how much they individualize and care for each child. They dug and probed to understand why he didn’t want to participate and then did whatever they could to make him feel safe and valued.
It sounds like he’s had a lot of social-emotional growth.
Yes! I’ve also seen his empathy develop for other children. Before, he didn’t like playing with younger kids because they can be unpredictable. Now when we go to a playground, if a younger child falls over he will help pick them up and say, “that’s a really good attempt for a 2-year old!” To see him re-assure a younger child is transformational.
I also notice his growth when I try to help him with things. For example, I tried helping him with a project, and when I didn’t do it right he said, “It’s OK Mom, you tried your best!” When I say, “I don’t know”, he’ll remind me that “I don’t know YET”.
He’s also becoming more comfortable with uncertainty. He has gained the confidence to be okay with not knowing something and not getting things perfect the first time. He’s grasping the concept of “any failure is a learning to redesign or try a different approach.”
You mentioned the Parent Stream app. How do you use it?
I look at Stream every day, and I use that as a conversation starter with my son. I’ll say, “Oh, I saw your teacher post something about jellyfish!” And then he’ll talk about what he learned about jellyfish. He’s proud of his efforts, and they celebrate them in class. They celebrate each child’s progress in what each child is working on. Stream helps me connect with those successes he has in class.
How would you describe AltSchool’s use of technology?
He has a tablet, but the technology is not very prominent overall. He’ll talk about the science experiments he did or how many bugs they collected in the park. He never talks about the technology. Instead he’ll say, “I did this really cool project, and I took a picture of it using my tablet.”
How would you describe the teachers?
I don’t think I have ever met a more dedicated group of teachers. They partnered with me to find out what was going on and found a way to help him. They are 100% solutions-focused and really believed in him when he didn’t believe in himself. They are just incredible!