November 23, 2013

Academics

Students at Meridian Academy love to learn because we make learning fun. A spelling quiz may take the form of a snowball fight. Sight word practice may be disguised in an around the classroom board game. Learning about a new country could involve learning outdoor children’s games, cooking and tasting new foods, reading folk stories, and doing art projects in that country’s traditional style. We take a field trip once a month to explore our great community around us. Families and siblings are always welcome to join us on our field trips and for our school celebrations of birthdays, holidays, and special occasions.


A Note About Common Core:
Meridian Academy has not and will not adopt the Common Core Standards as prescribed by the Federal Government. We believe that schools should teach to the needs of the students and the community.  We have done much research surrounding these standards and attended information meetings presented by committee members who were writing the standards. We feel that the standards are developmentally inappropriate in the lower grades and not rigorous enough in high school. A 2010 review by the Fordham Institute, which supports Common Core, found that California had standards that were clearly superior to Common Core. California had to lower its standards to come inline with Common Core. Young children learn and develop at different paces and Meridian Academy allows for these differences. An advanced child can accelerate their learning and a young child who is not ready to learn to read will not be pushed beyond their capabilities.



Project Based Learning encompasses many disciplines including history, geography, science, art, and more!

Project-based learning (PBL) is learning by investigating and doing.  PBL emphasizes learning activities that are long-term (month long to semester long projects), and interdisciplinary (multiple subjects).

Project-based learning is considered an alternative to worksheet, routine memorization, teacher-led classrooms.  As a result students experience a greater depth of understanding concepts, have a broader knowledge base, improve their communication and interpersonal/social skills, enhance their leadership skills, have increased creativity, and improved writing skills.


Project-Based Learning: An Overview – YouTube.


Language Arts
Students are taught to read using phonics based instruction. Children practice handwriting in the D’Nealian style which transitions easily to cursive in the third grade.  Reading aloud great books to children fosters a lifelong love of books. We read great literature aloud every afternoon after lunch time for 30 minutes. Picture books and stories are used throughout the day as a jumping off point for a discussion about the value of the month, or an artist we may be learning about, or a grammar lesson. Quality books are the foundation of much learning.


Math
At Meridian Academy we believe that math should be fun and engaging, not a drudgery. The basis of our math curriculum is RightStart Math. It uses an abacus as a hands on way of feeling, seeing, and experiencing numbers. Students develop a very strong number sense using the abacus. We use math games to minimize the use of monotonous math drills. The Life of Fred math books are supplemental to our RightStart Math curriculum and the students love them. They teach through a comical story how to use their math skills in their every day lives.


Science
Meridian Academy loves science! Whether it’s exploring the natural habitats of ocean creatures at the tide pools, bird watching, dissecting owl pellets or frogs, studying the anatomy of snakes, learning where your food goes after you chew it, understanding the oxygen and carbon dioxide transfer between plants and animals, watching the clouds, mixing chemicals, watching Killer T-cells attack, or growing plants, it’s all fascinating. Students at Meridian Academy will be exploring scientific concepts with a hands-on attitude. Science is literally about exploration.


History

“If history were taught in the form of stories it would never be forgotten.” ~Rudyard Kipling

That is how history should be taught and introduced. Children who love the stories and know them will naturally learn about the people, where they lived, and when they lived.


Music
There is a plethora of research confirming that music is good for brain development. Studies show that it develops the language center of the brain, raises your IQ, and enhances language skills. However, that’s not why we teach music at Meridian Academy. We will teach music for music’s sake! Music gives you a better understanding of yourself. Additionally, your understanding of how you think and express yourself is enhanced. Music can express emotion in ways that words alone cannot. We will sing, move, clap, dance, listen, and play with music!


Drama
At Meridian Academy we will put on drama performances. There are so many benefits to putting on a play. The children grow in their self-confidence, imagination, cooperation and concentration. They practice public speaking and learn about diction, projection and persuasive speech. They get to step into the shoes of their character and see from a new perspective. And above all this- it’s fun!


Art
The arts are a powerful arena for fostering creativity, imagination and enthusiasm for learning! These skills are extremely important in our rapidly advancing global world.  Through art, our students will learn to observe, interpret, see different perspectives, analyze, and synthesize.  We will study famous artists and art movements as we learn about the elements of art and the principles of design both of which help to develop the students creative mind.

“Every child is an artist; the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” ~Picasso


Character Education
As parents, we can help our children build a vast academic profile, however without good strong core values, our children will not use that wealth of knowledge for good. Each month we focus on a value and discuss what it means to us and how we can work on developing this character trait in ourselves. School year 14-15 we will learn about respect, responsibility, kindness and friendliness, perseverance, courage, honesty, self-discipline, and citizenship.


Physical Education
Every day our students enjoy playing outside, weather permitting, for at least an hour. We strongly believe that fresh air, freedom to play, and closeness to nature helps build a healthy child. We also teach the students new outside games; developing motor skills, engaging in friendly competition, and exercising team building skills through games and physical activity.