Your questions and Our answers. Please feel free to contact us with any other questions.
What kind of school are you? We tend to describe ourselves as being a mix of a private school (we operate on tuition revenue), a homeschool co-op (our families participate in the operation of our school) and a summer camp (LOTS of outside time).
We also don’t use grades because we want to focus on learning and not a letter grade. We don’t do tests because they’re a poor indicator of academic progress and because we are an independent school, we aren’t required to do them. We don’t assign homework because research shows it has zero academic value and tends to wear down the family dynamic after school.
What grades do you offer? We are a K-5 school. Our 5-day program is available through 5th grade. For 6th grade, only our 2-day homeschool supplement program is available.
Are you a charter school? No, although we are in the process of working towards getting a private charter. We are NOT a public charter school.
What is your daily schedule? Below is the schedule we generally follow each school day.
9:00-10:00a - Unstructured outside time.
10:00-10:30a - Wash up & am snack.
10:30-12:00p - Academics.
12:00-12:30p - Wash up & lunch.
12:30-1:30p - Unstructured outside time.
1:30-2:00p - Wash up & pm snack.
2:00-3:30p - Academics.
Will the part time and full time kids be together in the same space? All students will be together for outside time. The 2 day program is a more traditional homeschool supplement program, and therefore these students have very different academic needs, so when we break up into their “classes” for academic time, these students are generally in separate groups from the students in the 5 day program.
Can kids move between the full time and part time programs? Yes. If your child is enrolled in a part-time class one year, you can change your enrollment in subsequent years to the full-time class. Or vice versa. Decisions about students who would like to switch in the middle of the school year will be made on a case-by-case basis.
What does parent/family involvement look like? One characteristic of Red Oak Community School that we feel is unique and are proud of is our commitment to building community. In the spirit of community and to the benefit of the school, we ask each family to volunteer time to support the success of the school- 30hrs for a 5 day family, 18hrs for a 3 day family and 12hrs for a 2 day family (requirements for single-parent families are half). We understand that not every family has the capacity to give time as freely as others; for this reason families may choose to contribute $25/hour in lieu of volunteering time.
Do you have before and after school care? Yes. It runs from 7:30-9:00a each morning & 3:30-6:00p each afternoon. Prices vary.
Will I have to register as a homeschooling family if I enroll my children in your program? Yes. All students at Red Oak will register as homeschoolers. We will provide and file all the paperwork with your local school superintendent, as well as providing the necessary assessments that each student will need to have when they file in subsequent years. This also allows all Red Oak families to receive various teacher discounts at several local businesses!
What if my child needs/wants to transfer to another school? Admission to other schools looks very similar to what any other student may experience. However, since our students are homeschoolers, you would simply provide your annual homeschool assessment form (Red Oak provides these annually to all of its students) instead of school transcripts. Most public schools (CCS included) do not require any testing to determine which grade students would be placed in, they simply place the child based on their age.
Private schools in Columbus also have a similar admissions process for homeschoolers. The only difference would be that you would provide letters of recommendation (1-2) from teachers, the student’s portfolio and your annual homeschool assessment form instead of a school transcript. Red Oak will provide all of these documents to families. However, most private schools DO require students to take a standardized test for admission, but this is required of ALL their applicants.
Are there sibling discounts or scholarships? We understand that the cost of an alternative education for your children can sometimes put a strain on finances. While we are unable to provide discounts or scholarships these early years, we are working diligently to begin fundraising with the goal that every dollar we raise for that fund will go towards helping families in need of financial assistance.
What are you doing to increase diversity? We have an extremely limited advertising budget, but we are doing everything we can to get the word out about our school to any and all communities we feel might be interested in a nature-based school for their children. If you have any ideas on how to help us in this regard we would love to hear them!
What are the backgrounds of your educators? Our educators come from varied backgrounds, from teaching in public schools, private schools and having homeschooled their own children. Some of our educators have informal educational training and some have professional degrees/licenses. We feel this mix of educator backgrounds allows us to offer an educational experience that feels less like a traditional school environment and a little more “home-y.”
How will arts and music be incorporated? Our innovative, project based learning classrooms will provide constant opportunities for creativity, problem solving and art! The children will have access to art materials, time during which to explore them, and examples of fine art on a daily basis. Singing, music-making, and movement will also be incorporated into our regular school day.
Is there outdoor space at First UU? Yes, there is about a quarter acre of natural space available for us to use. The main school door opens right up into that space. About half of the space is wooded and the other half is an open grassy area. We believe the natural wooded and grassy area right outside our classroom doors are the most appropriate learning and exercise environment for our children. The SYC playgrounds nearby are designed for preschool play and is strictly for their use during school hours. We also utilize the “ravine” space that is a quick 10min walk north from the school.
What about clothing requirements? The kids will be required to wear weather appropriate clothing when they are dropped off for school each day. This includes any necessary sunscreen/bug spray/sun hats during warmer weather. During the winter months students are required to have waterproof/resistant winter coat, insulated snow pants, insulated snow boots, hat, gloves and warm socks. Students are also required to have an extra change of clothes in their backpacks/cubbies throughout the year.
Will there be other fees for activities? When there are field trips, those will be paid only by students attending the field trips. The school doesn’t add anything to those fees and we try to keep them under $10/trip.
How will you deal with discipline issues? We tend to say that no one “gets in trouble” here at Red Oak. Conflict management is a big part of the work that we do and kids often need guidance navigating conflicts. This is a safe place to make mistakes and when someone has made a mistake, they are given support and guidance through the process of making amends with their peers and/or teachers.
While we don’t do punishments here, some actions do have consequences. If a student is behaving in a way that might not be keeping themselves or others safe and hasn’t been able to listen to teachers and adjust their behavior, they may be asked to sit out an activity. However, we always work with the student during that time to try and trouble-shoot ways to make better choices next time. If a student has consistently struggled with behavioral issues, we will work with the student to come up with a student support plan, share it with parents, then re-address in a couple of weeks.
I’ve never homeschooled. Will you tell us what to do on our “homeschool” days? Nope! It is the responsibility of each family to decide how to spend your school days at home. We have a support network and lists of resources that our families have used in the past, but it is 100% up to you how you want to approach homeschooling. We have many un-schoolers and some families who use more traditional homeschool curriculums.