What if my child has an activity in the afternoon? No worries. Children in kindergarten and first grade can choose the half-day option. Older children can schedule to leave early when they have an activity, though we can’t guarantee no homework if a student leaves before the end of the day.
Why is the day so long? This is an interesting question because it’s predicated on the memories so many of us have of watching the clock and feeling like it hadn’t moved in days. Last year, 80% of our students came to us asking to lengthen our minimum day from four hours to six.
Our school days run long for a number of reasons (in no particular order):
1) It allows us to give the children the chance to do the work right after the lesson is taught, rather than having them wait until the afternoon or evening, when much of the lesson has been forgotten.
2) Concomitantly, it allows usto help the students when they get stuck.
3) We’re able to include gardening, art, and music lessons each week without cutting anything.
4) It eliminates the need for most “after-school” care.
5) The hours help working parents.
When is recess? We don’t have scheduled breaks because we teach to the rhythm of the children. We change up activities based on their focus. And when they need a break, they get one. At the beginning of the year, we tend to have more than midyear. New students sometimes laugh the first time they hear the order, “Stop working and go play.”
Why do you have “cadres” instead of grade levels? Children don’t mature in a uniform way. In education we call that “asymmetrical development.” In a standard classroom, students who are above or below grade level in some areas can find themselves bored and / or lost. An individual child might be above grade level in one subject, at grade level in another, and below grade level in a third.
At RVA children are initially sorted by their reading abilities, rather than their ages. This is relevant since students who can read can also learn more independently. Most tests determine reading level based on multiple choice vocabulary tests. We test for vocabulary, but also for overall comprehension. See question 5 for additional information.
How will you decide what level to place my child in? Once a child enrolls at RVA, s/he will be evaluated in English and mathematics. Reading level determines the primary placement, since learning in social studies and science typically involve some level of reading. His/her math level is also taken into account. If the two are relatively close, lessons will be individualized within the reading cadre. If they’re further apart, then the child will be included in the math lessons of the children functioning closest to his/her level.
Evaluation is done through tests and teacher observation. The state of California has released questions from previous versions of the STAR tests. Those questions are used to determine the particular skills each child has already mastered.
Additionally, teachers carefully follow class discussions and questioning by the students to help determine the correct placement based on the level of critical thinking displayed.
How do you evaluate a child for giftedness?
Are there additional fees? RVA has an application fee and tuition. There are no fees for books, uniforms, etc. If you choose to have your child participate in multi-day field trip, you will be expected to pay for expenses beyond admission to the venue.