The Educate Debate is an editorial series presented to you by Fort Worth Moms and our sponsors Great Hearts Arlington, Montessori School of Fort Worth, and Uplift Education. To read all the articles included in this series, please click HERE.
Our journey to a charter school is a long story. Oh wait, no it’s not. The story begins with the spring break that never ended.
In July, our family knew we needed a school solution that included in-person learning. We discovered a new classical charter school nearby, got accepted, researched classical education, and never looked back. We actually intended to “look back” but are now invested and intend to send our boys all the way through. Here are a few reasons we chose to stay.
The class size model at Great Hearts Lakeside (GHL) is 30:2. At first this seemed like so many kids in one class. However, the class is staffed with a full-time lead teacher and a full-time assistant teacher. This means the class has two teachers at all times bringing the ratio to 15:1. Benefits to this model that we have seen include extra help with teaching kids at different levels, grading is completed and returned to the student quickly, and teachers get more breaks throughout the day because they can share the workload. The downside is that your child will fall in love with two teachers instead of one.
GHL encourages you to purchase five to six classic books that are grade specific. These are books they read in class, but you also keep to add to your personal library. The books are generally a few levels above the scholar and are therefore read to the class by the teacher. Not only do they hear the story, but the teacher also dialogues with the students and encourages them to ask questions to stimulate critical thinking about the characters, plot, and themes. My second grader has learned to love and appreciate books in a whole new way through this teaching method. Click here for the list of grade specific books.
One aspect of learning that GHL really stresses is memorization. I never imagined this to be something that my eight year old could do and do well. Kids are sponges! It has been amazing to see my son recite REALLY tough poems. Some examples from this past year were “At The Zoo” and “Furry Bear” by A. A. Milne and “Animal Crackers” by Christopher Morley. Next year, in third grade, he will start to memorize Shakespeare!
GHL places a healthy emphasis on the specials classes. In addition to music and art, lower school grades take chess and Spanish. It’s not a game I would have ever thought to teach, but chess has really improved my son’s ability to critical think, problem solve, and slow himself down during a task. No one will argue the importance of learning a second language at a young age. I am thankful to be at a school where this practice is more than just an elective.
By adding a grade level every year, GHL will eventually be kindergarten through 12. I never realized how important this would be until I had two children that will be six grades apart. One drop-off and one pick-up? Yes, please!
I am positive we can all agree that the 2020-2021 school year was unusual, to say the least. We certainly never intended on leaving our neighborhood school. But everyone has been forced to make decisions best for their own families and circumstances. I am truly thankful for our last minute switch to Great Hearts Lakeside — a classical education at a revolutionary charter school.