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The Gift of Time: Understanding the Rationale Behind Age Requirements in Early EducationPosted by Tisha Harris on 9/15/2023
When should my child begin kindergarten or first grade? This is a question all parents ask when they start to consider enrolling their children in school. What seems like a simple question can have a somewhat nuanced answer. The Classical Academy has very specific age requirements for kindergarten and first-grade enrollment. These requirements differ a bit from the school district, so sometimes parents ask why. Here is a little about why TCA calls this practice, “the Gift of Time”.
Age Requirements for Kindergarten and 1st Grade.
The school district allows students to register for kindergarten if they turn 5 on or before October 1st. However, the Classic Academy has a different requirement that was put into place after thoughtful consideration of academic studies and years of classroom experience.
To enroll at TCA, students must turn 5 years of age on or before June 1st of the intended enrollment year in order to start kindergarten. This means if a student’s birthday is June 12, that child will start kindergarten in the enrollment year that child turns 6.
Similarly, a child must be 6 years of age on or before June 1 of the start of the school year to enroll in 1st grade.
These deadlines and age requirements are applicable to both the Traditional and the Cottage School Programs. TCA does not make exceptions to this requirement.
Why Give the Gift of Time
This was not a decision we made lightly. After careful analysis and consideration of past performance, TCA has found that younger kindergarteners, specifically those who start before or barely turning 5, tend to face more challenges throughout their academic journey. So, in order to ensure the best possible educational outcome for all students, we have established the specific age requirements for enrollment in kindergarten and 1st grade.
The Rationale for the Gift of Time
Enrollment in Kindergarten is a significant milestone in a young person's life, and it is essential to consider each child's individual readiness for this important step. Research shows that children, especially boys, are often not developmentally prepared for the academic and social demands of a classroom setting until closer to age 6.
At TCA, our kindergarten program is academically rigorous, encompassing real reading, math activities, history, science, music, art, and the beginning of writing and grammar activities. In fact, our kindergarten curriculum is comparable to what is typically taught in a first-grade classroom in other schools. Providing students with an additional year before starting formal academics facilitates a smoother transition from play to more structured learning.
The ease of transition is beneficial. Students are more confident and develop a better sense of security. This benefits them as they are introduced into the classroom community.
Moreover, studies from Stanford University have highlighted the benefits of delaying kindergarten for a year. Children who wait show lower levels of inattention and hyperactivity, leading to improved mental health that persists into later childhood, even up to age 11.
It is also worth noting that being younger than their peers can have an impact on how students are perceived as they progress through school. Physically, socially, and academically, they may continue to lag behind their classmates.
It is Important
TCA firmly believes that these age requirements will contribute to something we all want for your student: a positive and successful educational journey. By ensuring that students are developmentally ready for the challenges ahead, we can foster a supportive environment that promotes growth and achievement.
If you would like more information about our academic programs, please visit our website. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the age requirements or our school programs, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to support you and your child every step of the way.
The Cottage School Program at The Classical AcademyPosted by Tisha Harris on 8/15/2023
TCA’s Cottage School Program (CSP) was developed to help parents who are committed to providing their children with the best possible education. This unique program is a partnership between homeschooling parents and The Classical Academy, to create a fuller educational experience. It is a part-time program designed to augment the education being given at home, not replace it. Parents remain the primary educators and their participation is critical to the success of the program.
Classical Education Principles
At the heart of The Classical Academy's Cottage School Program lies the time-tested principles of classical education. The curriculum emphasizes the trivium, which consists of three stages: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. The grammar stage focuses on building a foundation of knowledge, the logic stage fosters critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and the rhetoric stage hones students' abilities in effective communication. This comprehensive approach cultivates well-rounded individuals who are capable of analytical thinking, logical reasoning, and eloquent expression.
Who is the Cottage School Program for?
CSP is for home-schooling families that have children in kindergarten through 6th grade. The program is designed to supplement the instruction being given in the home. The goal is to assist parents in developing exemplary citizens equipped with analytical thinking skills, virtuous character, and a passion for learning. We use the same core values and mission as we do in all our classrooms to help parents expand the educational opportunities for their children. To be clear, it is our desire to uphold family instruction, core values, and educational direction developed at home.
What Does the Cottage School Program Teach?
CSP is a Language Arts-emphasis program focused on Core Knowledge curriculum (not Common Core), Character Education, and Specials – Physical Education, Art, and Music. The program does not teach reading, math, history, or science. Parental involvement and support are a critical part of the program. TCA provides your child’s language arts curriculum and in-class instruction, and parents continue that instruction at home during the week. Students in grades K-2 can anticipate 1-2 hours of CSP work to be completed at home each week; grades 3-6 average 2-3 hours of work each week.
Kindergarten- 2nd Grade.
Our instruction for students in this age range is based on the Spalding Method. This instruction provides a foundation for phonemic awareness and literature appreciation. At the same time, we provide essential instruction in writing and grammar. While we don’t explicitly teach reading in these classes, it supports the reading program that you are using at home. Our staff can provide you with recommendations for reading programs if you need them.
3rd to 6th Grade.
Strong writing skills are essential for success. That is the reason that students in this age range, are taught with curriculum from the Institute of Excellence in Writing. This writing program methodically guides students to improve their writing while melding pertinent grammar and vocabulary skills in each lesson. Their Classic Education is augmented with an array of literature lessons from various grade-level selections incorporated along with Greek/Latin Roots for enrichment.
Nurturing Community Environment
The Cottage School Program provides a nurturing community environment that supports students' holistic development. The school fosters strong relationships among students, parents, and teachers, creating a close-knit community where everyone is valued and respected. CSP students participate in grade-level field trips and all-school Field Day. In addition, families are encouraged to attend extracurricular activities such as our annual music concerts, the Family Talent Show, the Art Show, and our end-of-year CSP gathering. Our art and music enrichment programs are also available to CSP students in 3rd through 6th grades. We encourage our home school families to experience our community and network with each other. This helps parents stay engaged and fosters a sense of belonging in students through the development of social skills and empathy.
Kindergarten-aged students attend two half-days per week, either Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday mornings (8:15 -11:30 am).
Students in 1st through 6th grade attend one full day per week (8:15 am – 3:30 pm)
1st, 3rd, and 5th graders have the option to attend on either Wednesdays or Thursdays.
2nd, 4th, and 6th graders have the option to attend on either Mondays or Tuesdays.
We Honor Parents
Choosing to educate children at home is one of the most rewarding and challenging endeavors a family will ever experience. We aim to lift some of the burdens of teaching and fill some voids many homeschool parents have expressed that caused them to quit. TCA accomplishes this by providing a safe academic environment and providing you with academic support. We have many veteran home school parents and staff “on call” to assist you. We would love to partner with you to help your children find success in their Language Arts studies. You can find out more about the Cottage School Program on our website. Contact the Registrar’s office for further assistance regarding enrollment. They would love to help continue your child’s educational journey.
Why We Do Half-Day KindergartenPosted by Tisha Harris on 7/21/2023
While some schools may offer full-day kindergarten programs, TCA only offers half-day kindergarten sessions for a number of reasons.
Firstly, half-day kindergarten allows for a smoother transition from home to school for both children and parents. Young children may find it challenging to adjust to a full day of school, especially if they have never been in a structured classroom environment before. With half-day sessions, children are able to gradually acclimate to the classroom setting, and parents can better manage their child's schedule without needing to make childcare arrangements for a full day.
In addition, half-day kindergarten allows for a more focused learning experience. With a shorter school day, teachers can maximize instructional time and ensure that children are engaged and learning at a pace that is appropriate for their age. This also allows for more individualized attention and support for each child.
Parents at The Classical Academy also have the option to choose between morning or afternoon kindergarten sessions, depending on their schedules and preferences. This flexibility allows families to better manage their own schedules while still ensuring that their child is receiving a quality education.
Whether you choose the am or pm class times, our schedule has your child in class Monday through Thursday. This leaves Fridays off. That day is sometimes utilized as a test or tutoring day for children needing some extra help with their work. Otherwise, it allows for more family and play time.
There is still homework in kindergarten, but it is no more than 30 minutes. This helps to reinforce the skills learned in the classroom and prepare children for future academic success while not overloading them.
We also place a strong emphasis on specials which include art, music, and physical education. TCA’s music education begins in kindergarten. We believe it is important to give children the opportunity to develop a love of music from an early age. Some studies have shown that early music education also has other benefits such as improved language capabilities, better study habits, improved memory and increased hand-eye coordination. Children will cultivate this love for music in our program and will eventually use those skills for band or choir in junior high and high school.
As you can see, our decision to offer half-day kindergarten here at TCA has been carefully made. A smoother transition to school, a more focused learning experience, flexibility for families, reinforcement of classroom skills, and a strong emphasis on the arts are all reasons we believe this is the correct choice for our students and your family. We believe that this approach best serves the needs of our students and prepares them for a successful academic journey and prepares them to become exemplary citizens.
These are a few of our reasons, but if you would like to discuss our rationale for half-day kindergarten further or have questions about other aspects of our kindergarten program, please visit our website or call us at 719-484-0091. We will be happy to help you.
Our Core ValuesPosted by Tisha Harris on 6/2/2023
The Classical Academy (TCA) located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is a charter school that is committed to providing its students with a high-quality education that is grounded in a set of core values. These core values are at the heart of TCA's mission and are reflected in everything the school does. Let's take a closer look at these values and what they mean for students, teachers, and parents at TCA.
Documenting our core values was a process. It started with a subcommittee of our board of directors. Over the next two years, the conversation included input from the founding board members, past and present board members, and all of TCA’s administration leadership.
Once it was complete, the board of directors approved it and enjoyed the support of the school administration. It now serves as our compass to keep TCA on its course, both now and in the future.
Dignity and Respect
One of our core pillars is our belief that all humans deserve dignity and respect. This starts with how we treat our children. We also demonstrate a culture of respectful, civil interactions between adults in all situations and, by modeling that, teach our students to do the same.
The Declaration of Independence listed unalienable rights and we build on that. Our children are taught to value freedom and recognize that the sacrifices made by our veterans are something to be honored. We also cultivate a culture of service and placing others first. We develop virtuous character and teach the importance of the Constitution in our lives. In addition, we teach personal economic liberty and the virtue of a free enterprise system.
At the root of it all, our system is set up to help children grow into exemplary citizens. To achieve that, we start with the idea that education addresses mind, body, and spirit.
We see cultivating virtuous character including excellence with honor, moral courage, compassion, and relational grace as important steps in the development of our children. We believe our education efforts should uplift the student through the pursuit of truth, beauty, and goodness across disciplines. And we help our students understand the relationship between the domains of science, philosophy, and religion, as well as their limitations.
We also place value on an education that encourages creativity, complex analytical thinking, and discernment while exploring the marketplace of ideas. We place an emphasis on the study of Western traditions and its ideals of democracy, equality before the law, property rights, political rights, and religious freedom. Additionally, we recognize and value the achievements and contributions of many peoples, cultures, and nations.
Our staff is aware of the responsibility and trust being placed in them by our parents and views it as an honor. As part of this, we respect the domain of the home in areas such as sex education and religious upbringing. In turn, we value parents that respect the staff and model respect for their authority in the school domain so their children can learn by that example. Our practices are counter-cultural when culture encourages indulgence. We expect a higher standard of civility and decency from our children, staff, and parents.
These are a few of the Core Values that guide what we do here at The Classical Academy. If you would like to see more about them, please explore our website or contact our offices at 719-484-0091. We look forward to meeting you.
From Vision to Success: The Classical Academy HistoryPosted by Tisha Harris on 5/8/2023
You already know The Classical Academy (TCA) is a public charter school that offers a classical education to students in grades K-12. But how it started and how it has grown are also very interesting pieces of The Classical Academy's history.
The Classical Academy began from the vision of Mary and Jim Kretchman. They had become concerned about the quality of education in their local public schools. They felt that many schools were failing to provide a challenging and meaningful education to their students, and they began exploring alternative educational models. One of the models they were particularly interested in was the classical education model, which had been used for centuries in Western civilization. Mary had attended a private school herself and was a founding staff member of a private classically-based school in Virginia. She and Jim decided they wanted to use that experience to create a high-quality public education experience in the Colorado Springs area.
They found like-minded families to partner with. The other co-founding families were Vance and Betsy Brown, Barry and Tamra Farah, Dwight and Sandra Grant, Ron and Catherine Mast, Rick and Lisa Mueller, Dale and Linda Schauer, Bobby and Ann Silva, and Steve and Vicky Tomberlin joined to contribute their unique gifts to the development of the dream.
Classical education is based on the Trivium, which consists of three stages: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. During the grammar stage, students learn the basic elements of language and how to use them correctly. In the logic stage, students learn how to reason and think critically. In the rhetoric stage, students learn how to communicate effectively and persuasively. The classical education model also emphasizes the study of literature, history, mathematics, science, and the arts, as well as character education.
In the fall of 1997, the founders of The Classical Academy opened their first school, which served nearly 400 students in grades K-6. Each year, a new grade was added, and the school quickly grew in popularity. In 2002, the North campus was completed and continues to serve as an integrated K-12 campus.
In 1999, the Cottage School Program was started to serve families who prefer to homeschool. This program comes alongside those families and partners with them to supplement, not replace, the role of the parent as the primary educator. In 2009, the College Pathways program was added as a hybrid online high school/college partnership for 7th through 12 grade students.
Over the years, The Classical Academy has expanded its programs to include a full range of extracurricular activities, including athletics, music, drama, and clubs.
One of the keys to The Classical Academy's success has been its commitment to academic excellence. The school's curriculum is based on the Core Knowledge Sequence, which is a comprehensive, content-rich curriculum that emphasizes the development of strong reading, writing, and critical thinking skills. The school also uses a variety of teaching methods, including lectures, discussions, and hands-on projects, to engage students and help them learn. Students engage with rich academic content and the world of ideas in a way that invites relationship and encourages student voice. TCA remains dedicated to small classroom sizes to strengthen student’s learning experiences.
Another important factor in The Classical Academy History and its success has been its strong community support. Parents and faculty partner together to create “exemplary citizens” and grow students as a whole person, developing habits of mind, body, and spirit. Parents are invited to share their resources—time, talent, and treasure—to strengthen and support TCA. Parents volunteer over 35,000 hours annually.
Today and Beyond
Today, The Classical Academy serves over 3,500 students on three campuses in Colorado Springs. The school has earned numerous awards and accolades over the years, including the John Irwin Award for Academic Excellence in 2022 by the Colorado Department of Education (elementary, high school and College Pathways). The school has also been recognized for its strong academic performance, with students consistently scoring well above the state and national averages on standardized tests. All schools ranked in the top 15% by Colorado Grades Schools and the TCA High School and College Pathways Program have received The Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award for demonstrating exceptional student growth.
The success of The Classical Academy has inspired other schools around the country to adopt the classical education model. Today, there are hundreds of schools across the United States that offer a classical education to their students. The popularity of this model can be attributed in part to the growing recognition that traditional educational approaches are not meeting the needs of many students. By emphasizing critical thinking, character development, and a love of learning, the classical education model offers an alternative that can help students succeed academically and personally.
What makes a charter school different?Posted by Tisha Harris on 4/12/2023
How are Charter Schools Different?
Most people have heard of charter schools, but they don't necessarily know what makes them different from traditional public schools.
Since their inception in the 1970s, charter schools have become increasingly popular in the United States as an alternative to traditional public schools. These schools are unique in their design and operation, and they offer parents and students an alternative to traditional public schools. Let’s explore what makes a charter school different from other types of schools and how they offer a unique educational experience.
What is a charter school?
Charter schools are public schools that are independently operated and managed. They are typically established by parents, teachers, or community organizations and are authorized by a state or local government agency. The schools operate under a “charter,” which is a contract between the school and the authorizing agency. This contract outlines the school’s goals, curriculum, and performance standards, as well as its operational and financial requirements.
One of the most significant differences between charter schools and traditional public schools is the level of autonomy that charter schools have. The schools have more freedom to design and implement their educational programs and are not bound by the same regulations and restrictions that traditional public schools face. This autonomy allows them to be more innovative and flexible in their approach to education.
Charter schools also offer parents and students more choices in terms of the type of education they receive. Unlike traditional public schools, which are generally assigned based on where a student lives, charter schools are open to all students, regardless of where they live. This means that parents and students can choose a school that meets their individual needs and interests, whether that be a school focused on science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) education, the arts, or even a specific language.
Another important difference between charter schools and traditional public schools is their accountability structure. The schools are held accountable for their performance and are required to meet specific academic and financial goals outlined in their charter. If a charter school fails to meet these goals, it can be closed or have its charter revoked. This accountability structure incentivizes the schools to strive for excellence and continuously improve their programs.
Attracting top teachers
Charter schools also have more flexibility in their staffing and hiring decisions. They can hire teachers who may not be licensed in their state, allowing them to attract top talent from around the country. These schools can also offer their teachers more opportunities for professional development and growth, which can lead to better outcomes for students.
Despite these differences, charter schools are still subject to many of the same laws and regulations as traditional public schools. They must comply with federal laws such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), and they must provide the same level of accountability and transparency as traditional public schools.
Charter schools are unique in their design and operation, offering parents and students a choice in the type of education they receive. They are autonomous, innovative, and flexible in their approach to education, and are held accountable for their performance. The schools also offer their teachers more opportunities for professional development and growth, which can lead to better outcomes for students. While charter schools are not for everyone, they offer a valuable alternative to traditional public schools and can provide a high-quality education for students who may not thrive in a traditional public school setting.
The Classical Academy (TCA) is the largest K—12th-grade charter public school in Colorado. For over two decades, we’ve cultivated one of the finest academic programs in the state. With recognition from government agencies and national media, it is easy to see why TCA is a first choice for so many families. Our proudest achievement isn’t the awards or popularity, it is the thousands of students who have graduated from our programs and entered life ahead of their peers. Contact us and find out how your student can excel with The Classical Academy.