Welcome to week two of 2016 Summer School at Assets! We had a great first week. I saw our students engaged in fantastic learning experiences and making new friends quickly. I especially enjoyed watching new students discover the wonder of Assets for the first time. Viewing the school through their fresh eyes is a real joy. One of the distinctive features of the school is our Enrichment Program. Your child may have come home talking about it, so I want to share with you a brief overview of what it is and why we do it.
Enrichment is a classic component of gifted and talented programs. We provide the program to all of our students though. Enrichment helps students discover their interests and develop their talents. There is also great value in providing students time to share their interests with others who appreciate it in similar ways. We provide students, even our youngest ones, a menu of course options and ask them to rank them. This isn’t something that parents or teachers decide for kids. This is student-driven and an opportunity to demonstrate to students that we honor their voice. During summer, we rotate to a new course every 6-8 days. During the full school year, courses typically run 3 weeks. These classes are non-graded. We don’t participate for a grade. We participate for the joy and benefit of learning.
For this first summer session, we offered classes in Lego Creations, Photography, Altered Books, Color Guard, Cooking, Rocketry, Painting and Drawing, Egg Drop Challenge, Glass Etching, Hands-On Science, and Magical Mobile Art. Be sure to look for some exciting new options during the next round! Similar to the other aspects of our educational program, Enrichment embraces the school’s pedagogical commitment to experiential, hands-on and multisensory learning.
Enrichment is all about strengths-based education. At Assets, nourishing a child’s strength is just as important as providing intervention if they have an academic struggle. Unfortunately for too many students, their existence, both in and out of school, is centered around what they don’t do well. “He can’t read.” “He can’t sit still.” “She’s always disorganized.” “Her learning is so slow.” Drs. Robert Brooks and Samuel Goldstein have referred to this as children living in an ocean of inadequacy.
If the ocean of inadequacy is real, then it’s even more important for the adults in that child’s life to help them find their islands of competence – areas where the children have current or potential strengths that can serve as sources of pride and accomplishment. This is why Dr. Brooks encourages parents to think of themselves as explorers, searching wide and deep for their child’s interests. Dr. Susan Baum said something similar when she visited Assets. She recommended parents focus first on what their child does well and then view their job as being “the opportunity maker” for their kids. Enrichment helps with this process and enables students to spend time as capable learners who are thriving.