All the details you need to know...
TIME & PLACE
Bramblewood Learning Community will have two programs next year - a 2-day hybrid that meets on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:30-3, and a 1-day drop-off on Mondays from 10-2:30. Both meet in Hilltown, PA.
AGES & CLASSES
In our 2-day program, there are currently four levels at Bramblewood, covering ages preK through early high school. The program director will work with parents to determine class placement, as it is not determined strictly by age or grade level, but by student learning needs and abilities.
Our 1-day program is geared more for younger kids in grades K-4.
Bramblewood is wonderful because of the amazing parents in our community, and we highly recommend being involved! In the 2-day program, parents typically volunteer for one half-day, leaving the other day and a half as a drop-off. This allows our program to function more smoothly, and also gives parents more visibility into the wonderful things their child is doing in class. We really value the partnership between families and the program!
Our 1-day program is a drop-off (we don't need as many classroom volunteers), but we still encourage parents to get involved by setting up field trips or park days, sharing your skills, or helping out the mentors where needed!
In our two-day program, our first hour will be devoted to independent core learning (math, language arts, etc). Students will set goals in these subjects with their parents and bring work from home for that time. While many aspects of our group projects are determined by student interest and input, there are certain things we are sure to cover through these interdisciplinary investigations, like history, science, and art. Each level will have some writing activities or workshops, as well.
As homeschool parents, ourselves, we are motivated to take care of as much at Bramblewood as we can, to leave less on our individual plates. This year we will be using the Seesaw app to build portfolios as we go throughout the year. Both children and mentors will be able to post pictures, videos, and documents that parents can view and comment on, and then at the end of the year, parents can just pull up the app to view all of the student work. We have heard many evaluators say they love this app because it makes the whole process so simple!
ARE YOU RELIGIOUS OR SECULAR?
Our projects and instruction will not be religious in nature or have religious undertones, and in that way it is a secular program. However, we will not shy away from children sharing experiences and thoughts, which might mean that discussions occasionally mention religion. We have children from multiple faith backgrounds and will be respectful of all views and cultures. We will attempt to communicate with parents if controversial topics are brought up so that they can follow up at home. Additionally, there may be religious art or decorations present in the classroom unrelated to the class.
METHODS - HOW DO WE TEACH?
Bramblewood Learning Community is inquiry- and project-based at its heart. While each day may look slightly different, and schedules vary in the different levels, there are four main methods used in our program.
We intentionally call our adult leaders "mentors," because that is their role, rather than "teachers." Mentors walk alongside our students, often guiding from behind and letting the students lead out. We often teach through asking questions and guided reflection. Mentorship also has an individual component, where we help students achieve their individual goals and find their own purpose and passions in life.
Discussion-based learning is a core practice at Bramblewood. We have crew meetings, where class decisions are made and we reflect on ourselves as a group; character discussions, where mentors help students catch a vision of where they are headed and how to become the people they want to be; and many classes also have current event or other topical discussions. Each week all classes have a Socratic discussion, where we discuss high quality, meaty material, allowing our minds to wrestle with great ideas.
INVITATIONS & INQUIRIES
There is time set aside each week for students to explore topics and skills that they are interested in. Mentors and parents help spread the feast for students by providing materials, invitations, and opportunities for students to explore topics they might not have seen before. Then they work together to turn interests into projects and goals. Sometimes parents bring projects from home they are working on (art, sewing, etc), and allow children to join them. Other times, workshops or materials may be offered to expose children to new fields or ideas.
Each semester, classes work on at least one major project. Usually each year there is one project roughly corresponding to each subject - social studies, science, and art - though all are interdisciplinary and involve multiple skills. We try and plan projects with authentic, real-world value whenever possible. Some projects we have done in the past include creating a plan and prototype for a treehouse, making a podcast on world religions, producing a Shakespeare play, and creating educational manipulatives for middle school biology classrooms.