Frequently Asked Questions
How is a cooperative elementary school different from a cooperative preschool?
Like many local cooperative preschools, the Bridge School uses a cooperative model where parents dedicate a minimum number of hours each month to support the teachers, classroom environment and administrative functions of the school. The choice to follow a cooperative model is independent of the curriculum and has been effectively used in a variety of schools for all ages including public education, Montessori schools and independent models.
Our school uses a progressive, constructivist approach that includes a variety of curriculum selected for the ages and needs of current students. Therefore, the approach and specific developmental approach shifts from year to year to ensure that individual student needs are being met. Our goal is to provide an engaging learning environment that supports academic growth, creativity, exploration, community building and connecting to nature.
Why do you have multiage classrooms instead of grade-based ones?
We believe that multi-age classes allow students to grow at their own pace in a non-competitive environment. This structure also allows teachers to have the same students for more than one year, which builds strong student-teacher relationships and understanding. For a great article explaining multiage classrooms, check out The Multiage Classroom, by Marion Leier.
Is The Bridge School a Washington State approved school?
Yes. We meet all the requirements put forth by the state of Washington.
Do you require academic testing as part of the application process?
No, we believe that each child comes to us right where they need to be and we support and challenge them at an appropriate level. Academic ability has no bearing on admittance.
However, we do require that families have their child’s current teacher complete an evaluation form and that applicants attend either a student observation so that we have as much information as possible to help us determine if The Bridge School is a good overall fit. If an applicant has not had a prior teacher, we ask that another adult who knows your child well complete this evaluation.
Do you offer special services or behavioral support for students with special needs?
As a small school with a limited teaching staff, we are not able to offer special services for severe learning disabilities, behavioral challenges or certain other student support needs. We generally determine our ability to serve students on an individual basis.
We believe that social-emotional growth is as important as academic development and work to balance the needs of all the students in a class as they learn to work both cooperatively and independently. We have found that students who require high levels of one-on-one attention and more structured environments will be better served in settings that can provide that support.
Can my child access public school district resources even though they attend The Bridge School?
Yes. All children are eligible for services within their local school districts regardless of where they attend school. Families should contact their district’s Special Services department directly for exact directions on how to obtain needed services.
What is the difference between the Core Academic Program and Creative Enrichment? Should I enroll in both?
We understand that families have a variety of needs and preferences for their child’s education, which is why we offer a flexible program.
Enrolling in the Core Program and Friday Enrichment provides your student with 1000 instructional hours, which meets the minimum requirement for a Washington State Approved School and is why we offer all three components. A number of families choose to enroll in all components because they need or want a standard schedule for their child and/or one that matches closely with the public school district.
Will my child be okay if we only enroll in the Core Academic Program?
Absolutely! The Core Academic Program will support your child in growing academically and socially at his or her own pace. Some children thrive with shorter school weeks because they have more time to focus on individual interests or to have flexible at home with their family over a longer period.
The only “right” program for your child is the one that works best for him or her at any given time. We are happy to talk with you about what would support your child best right now.
I have two children that are close in age; will they be in the same class?
We believe that there are unique benefits to multi-age classrooms including staying with the same teacher for more than one year and opportunities for deep peer-to-peer learning and mentorship. If your children are close in age, they may be in the same class. However, that doesn’t mean that they will be spending all their time together or working at the same level. Instruction in multi-age classrooms is differentiated based on student abilities and so while the subjects or themes are the same for all students, the level at which they are working varies based on their development.
What kind of assessment or testing do you do to ensure that a student is learning?
We use a variety of assessment tools including Developmental Continuums, Running Records, DIBELS, observation and narrative descriptions as well as referencing WA State standard benchmarks.
Our low student-adult ratio and multi-age classes allows teachers to know students individually. Student achievement is assessed with an eye toward regular progress and skill development, rather than achieving specific grade-based benchmarks, and each student is tracked to ensure that he or she is appropriately challenged. Student work samples are examined to record understanding of particular topics. In keeping with our philosophy of partnering with families to support student learning, we draw upon the students and their families to assess how students are progressing.
Will my child be able to easily transfer into another school after attending The Bridge School?
Yes. We’ve had students successfully transfer to both public and private schools at grade-level. Our instruction and assessment are based on developmentally appropriate practices – just as the public school system strives to do – and our main focus is to meet each child where they are both academically and socially. Students leave our program knowing how to proactively solve problems, ask questions and find answers.
What is the class size for the Core Academic Program?
We cap the Coho Class (ages 5-6) at 10 students and all other classes at 15 students.
Can we visit the school?
Yes. Please contact us to schedule an observation or if you have questions or requests for information: firstname.lastname@example.org