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Hickman Charter School (Berkeley, CA)
I am a current public school parent interested in hearing about your experiences with Hickman Charter School's Alameda resource center. I would love to hear feedback on their resources and the support they have offered you with curriculum, transitions, etc. I would also love to hear what you think of their on-site classes, particularly math, science and electives. I am interested in providing a more hands on, project-based education for my son, but am a bit apprehensive about going solo. Thanks for any feedback!
Both of my children attend the 1x/week Wednesday classes. For K and 2nd grade, at least, I think the assumption is that parents will deal with the more academic topics, and Wednesday classes are more a chance to do those things that kids are likely to miss by not being in school: acting in plays, doing messy art work, playing group games, exploring at stations, recess, etc. In other words, they're _all_ electives. Many of the Wednesdays that don't have official classes have outings, like a Hickman-only day at Adventure Playground.
If you're looking for support in a particular subject, you may find it at the Hickman Resource Center. My kindergartener is finishing up 2nd grade math, and it's been no big deal. My 2nd grader has found her fill of historical fiction on their shelves. Their material supplies and physical plant are limited, but as a steadying hand and a source of socialization and group exploration, they've done really well by us. B.
We originally picked Hickman because they hold classes throughout the year, field trips, potlucks, etc. I was hoping that this would foster community - that was really what we were looking for - but unfortunately this ended up being a bust.
The classes weren't what we'd hoped for, and the field trips were few and far between. We tried a lot of stuff in the beginning - the camping trip in September, classes in the Fall, and school picture/family learning day, as well as the 1st field trip. Unfortunately, we didn't click with the other families and kids, and eventually I kind of gave up and started looking for other social outlets for us.
Also, because Hickman offers its own classes and activities, has a resource center (which is pretty great, I must admit - we were able to check out lots of materials and could keep them for as long as we wanted), you don't get nearly as much money for classes through outside vendors than if you went with a different homeschooling charter 'school'.
I think you get around $1600 a year for classes/curricula via Connecting Waters, and their vendor list is gigantic. Through Hickman, you only get about $500 worth for outside classes, and they have maybe ten or twelve vendors you can choose from, total.
I think it works out to your benefit if your kid likes the classes and the other events, and you end up meeting other families you enjoy spending time with. If you don't, though, then you're still doing the documentation but not getting back very much for it, in my opinion. Speaking of documentation, while you do need to show your kid's work and progress, our EC was super sweet and kind and very relaxed about everything. (All the ECs seemed great, by the way... in fact, I would say that the ECs, along with the resource center, are the big pluses of Hickman Charter.)
All in all, I am sorry to say that I would not recommend Hickman. I think the main reason why people pick them over another homeschooling charter (or just striking out on their own) is because they are hoping to find community, but we personally did not find that at Hickman.
Although, to be honest, we had a hard time finding a community we jibed with in the greater homeschooling community as a whole. This is the main reason why we stopped homeschooling and enrolled our son in a traditional school... he expressed feelings of loneliness and wanted so badly to connect with other children, but we couldn't find many friends for him via local homeschooling groups, despite my efforts.
I know homeschooling works for many people, but we are super happy to now be in the Berkeley public schools. We have found a warm and accepting community at his elementary school, and our son now has many friends. M.
The best thing is the staff at Hickman, all of whom are kind and intelligent people. We were assigned to an Educational Coordinator (a credentialed teacher, ours had taught for around 9 years in regular school). With her, we chose books and workbooks from a wide selection. For example, we chose the Reflections history/social studies book which is the same as OUSD uses in 5th grade. But we chose a writing Daybook for writing (it has selections from children's literature and then exercises/questions, and you can write in it), because it looked like the most fun. For science we signed up for a local class.
The same idea for the Hickman Wed classes. My son chose Research Writing (rigorous but with only 8 kids in it) and Tall Ships (they learned to tie knots, studied ships, and there was a sleepover on a docked tall ship at the end and there were maybe 30 kids in it). In the Spring he chose to take Knitting and Art of Math. But he could have taken a current events class or acted in a production of A Midsummers Night Dream instead of Knitting. We also packed bags at a food bank, pulled up weeds/small trees at Sibley, and are going camping in May with Hickman.
You meet with your teacher every so often (oftener if you are having problems, they can suggest other approaches or strategies). There are homeschooling groups that have play days at the park days every week, and many home school field trips are offered through various groups (for example, my son went to the De Young to see colonial art on an independent field trip.) You can also hook up with people offering classes, e.g. a book club, through their homes, usually for a fee.
I have found homeschooling to be completely different from going to school. I think almost anyone can be a successful homeschooler. anon
I have been trying to find any charter schools in berkeley, home school-ish, or traditional day school. I havent found anything on the website, nor have searches on the internet brought anything up. I do know about the two charter schools in Oakland but im suprised i cant find anything in berkeley.Are there any? cris
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