Bloom Academy is a self-directed learning center that believes school is not the only place a child can receive an education. It is open to school-aged children and will operate 5 days a week following the local school district academic calendar, and will be available to families of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Kids who join Bloom Academy will, with the help of our staff, be registered as homeschoolers in the state of Nevada and, therefore, will not be attending public school. We'll follow no curriculum or prescribed grade levels nor will we give assessments or grades. Instead, staff will be available to offer support or resources as the students spend their time either pursuing their own independent studies, participating in optional workshops based on their interests, developing essential skills, contributing to their community, or playing.
Based on a survey and focus group conducted, we found that we will be addressing the following needs of our Las Vegas community:
1. An educational environment that serves as an alternative to conventional school for children whose academic and/or social-emotional needs are not presently being met.
2. An educational environment in which children's social-emotional skills are being developed.
3. An educational environment in which the primary goal is not for children to receive, memorize, and repeat information that will later be assessed and used as data but rather to help foster self-aware, happy, confident, and innovative thinkers.
4. An educational environment that is less standards-based and more inquiry-based so that students may connect with and take responsibility for their own learning.
5. An educational environment whose overall size is smaller than that of conventional school so that meaningful relationships may be built between staff and children and the children's individuality is recognized and honored.
After reviewing responses from the survey and focus group, we found that many community members attributed the weaknesses of conventional schools in Las Vegas to their need to fulfill requirements set forth by the school district. Many respondents claimed that the dependence of teaching a prescribed curriculum in addition to the pressures of standardized assessments are the prime reason conventional schools are failing the children in our community. The overall consensus was that the time children spend in an educational environment should be dedicated to developing skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and other social emotional skills so that they are better prepared for their future, versus, how one respondent put it, learning how to "memorize, regurgitate, repeat." The community would like to see children in a learning environment that nurtures the child's natural curiosity, develops their strengths, and allows them to engage in inquiry-based and experiential learning. After reviewing this information, we knew that we needed Bloom Academy to be an alternative to conventional schooling; an option for families whose children are not succeeding in a structured and predetermined learning environment. Our goal became to create such a learning environment that focuses less on data and children being "grade level" and more on helping to develop happy, independent, passionate, and curious learners.
Bloom Academy will accomplish this goal in many ways. The first being that we are a self-directed learning center, not a school. This means that we will not receive money from the government and, therefore, will not be required to implement a prescribed curriculum nor will our children have to take part in the standardized assessments that the school district imposes. The children that attend Bloom Academy will register as homeschoolers in the state of Nevada which is the legal way to implement a fully self-directed learning environment. Self-directed learning means that each child creates their own curriculum based off of their own inquiries and interests. Instead of being told what to learn and how to learn, children are given the time, space, and support to become responsible for their own learning. Without having to focus on standards and test scores, the staff at Bloom Academy can focus on empowering and supporting the children as they develop social emotional skills such as social and self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, and critical thinking.
As previously stated, Bloom Academy will not be bound by the educational requirements of the state so we will have the freedom to help children develop autonomy, confidence, and the ability to become self-aware, happy, confident, and innovative thinkers. Children will not be constrained by grades, assessments, or a rigid time-frame; instead, they will be immersed in a learning environment that provides the support and resources necessary to develop the academic and social-emotional skills that will help prepare them for a successful future.
Bloom Academy will be moving into a space in July to prepare for operations. In between now and Juky, time is being spent gathering necessary materials and resources as well as fundraising and meeting with future members and their families. Bloom Academy will open its doors to children on August 9, 2021 and will end its first session on May 26th, 2022.
Project Funds will be spent on start-up costs, materials for volunteer-led workshops based on the interests of the children, materials and resources to support each child's self-directed learning, background checks for volunteers, and administrative fees.
Club members will be involved by volunteering to host various workshops for children and to assist with community events.
For more information on Bloom Academy, please feel free to visit www.bloomacademylv.com