18 Aug Welcome to the new world!
Not to minimize how hard the last 6 months have been, but, as an eternal optimist, I am hopeful that the pandemic has helped to expose the systemic inequities in our educational system (in all of our systems for that matter!)
And seeing is the beginning of growth. For some of us, who have been fighting these biased structures all our life’s work, it is an opening to build understanding and create change. I have talked to so many parents of 2e children who were astonished to see how much better their child was doing at home. Less anxiety, more opportunities for connection to family, more time to pursue passions, and less of the daily chronic stressors that make school intolerable for so many of our children.
I know that there are also many 2e children that have struggled with being at home. There are some who have found great schools that fill their needs in an appropriate way. But for the majority of our children, school is not a place they long to be each day. In fact, for many, it is a place of daily trauma.
That is why I created Big Minds. As a consultant who worked primarily with gifted/2e families, I rarely found schools that were a good fit for our population. I sat through many IEP meetings where the bureaucratic brick wall was firmly in place, creating an insurmountable barrier to getting what the child actually needed to thrive. I watched parents deal with the fallout from the programs designed by uninformed, and sometimes unconcerned, professionals. I decided that no parent should have to watch their child slowly implode, or become a “behavior problem,” or dumb themselves down. It is a terrible feeling to know that a system is crushing the light out of your child and your efforts to change it aren’t working.
To change that paradigm, I made sure that Big Minds is the opposite of traditional school. The children are equal partners in their education, they get a say in how, when, and what they learn. At the beginning of each semester, we send a survey to students asking what they want to learn that semester. When we have everyone’s input, we begin to build our curriculum for the semester. This fall we have classes such as: Sustainable Living, Chemistry, D&D, Gardening, Character Design, Digital Music, Logic Puzzles, Cooking, Chess, Letter Writing, Real World Finances, Digital Photography, Organizational Skills, YouTube Video Design, Origami, Art History, Getting Ready for High School, 2020 Election, and Forensics!
Each class generally has 3-5 students who attend, but sometimes more tune in to see what it is all about. Our digital school is like our brick and mortar, students have the opportunity to go into any class they are interested in doing. Our teachers and coaches work with each student to ensure they get to have the kind of education that actually works for them. Parents don’t have to make their child sign in for school each day, because our students want to attend. They know that this school will allow them to engage in authentic, meaningful work that is FUN!
School should spark creativity, be fun and engaging, provide opportunities for building social skills, and be comprised of like-minded people who love and care for you. If your child is not having this experience, check out Big Minds. We are now offering hybrid in-person (when it is safe and legal to do so), fully on-line, and homeschool support programs.