What age range do you accept at River Oak?
We are currently accepting toddlers up to the middle school ages. We believe in the importance of in-depth learning for all children. We value quality over quantity, so that we may provide every learner with the attention and nurturing they deserve. Our older Learners (up to age 15) have been in our environment for at least 4 years and have developed habits required for the hard work necessary for the increasingly difficult challenges they face as they build up more skills.
Will children be grouped by age?
We believe that children learn best while working alongside peers both younger and older than themselves, rather than separated into age-based groups. We consider and evaluate their developmental stage rather than chronological age as the determining factor for which studio in which they will work. In addition to their individualized curricula, every learner, regardless of age, works together in groups.
What is the school calendar and what does River Oak Academy cost?
River Oak Academy runs 11 months a year, typically with 5 to 6-week “sessions” followed by a one week break. The school day begins at 8:30 am and ends at 3:15 pm. Tuition is $1,300 per month based on our eleven-month academic year (September-July). Our Summer Session in July is optional. Please see the Tuition Page for more detailed information on tuition. For our current school calendar, click here.
What does the typical daily schedule look like?
At River Oak, every day is full of purposeful learning. We understand that children thrive when given freedom within structure. That is why we like to say that our school promotes an environment of “beautiful and constructive chaos.”
We focus on the needs of the learners so there may be times when we may change things up from day to day to rejuvenate the energy in the studio. Typically, Monday to Thursday, in the older studio mornings are dedicated to Core Skills and Civilization and afternoons focus on collaborative projects and Genre (writing). All throughout the day, they are learning purposefully either in core skills, practical life, and character building. Fun Fridays bring the Sessions's project into relevance using Music, Art, or field trips and celebrates our one-room schoolhouse community.
What kind of learner thrives at River Oak Academy?
Our environment is not meant for every child. A child who loves to learn, is curious, self-motivated, highly accountable, and kind would thrive in ROA. Our environment is an accelerator for the independent learner who can tackle challenging questions and solve problems—admit that they don't know something and figure out a solution when they hit a roadblock without asking an adult for help—participate in discussions, and striving for mastery. We are preparing learners not just for their future work but for a civic-minded and fulfilling life. We partner with like-minded parents who believe and trust in their child so much so as not to hamper their progress by providing consistency in their child's life at home that would provide them the best opportunity to flourish as an independent and free thinker.
What kind of family thrives at River Oak Academy?
Truthfully, River Oak is a magical place. It’s a place where children are treated as geniuses who deserve to find a calling that will change the world. A place where they are honored and respected, where they can develop a deep love for learning. A place where they can form authentic and lasting friendships. But it is not a utopia. Becoming a hero is hard work, and ROA is full of heroes in the making. Children, parents, and guides alike who embrace failures and mistakes, learning at every turn. We believe that fearing failure prevents us from achieving something worthwhile. A family who accept the struggles, failures and lessons needed to prepare for a fulfilling life in the real world will thrive at ROA.
For whom would ROA be a perfect fit?
Parents who value a “whole-child” educational approach
Parents who are willing to up-level family culture to cultivate a leadership & growth mindset
Parents who view learning with patience as a “long-game,” not by checkmarks and arbitrary grade levels.
Creators and creatives
Out-of-the box thinkers
Families who practice hard work
Those who value growth as a lifestyle
Parents who are willing to challenge “modern” parenting trends to empower their child with hard work and leadership.
Parents who want their children to develop a love of learning
Parents who trust and believe in their child so much that they do not feel the need to interfere or rescue them from every failure, struggle, or conflict by giving them room to advocate for themselves or find solutions on their own.
What do you mean by “Every child can change the world”?
We believe each of our learners will find a passion — something they love and have a gift to do. They will use this gift to serve others and fulfill a need they are passionate about in the world. This may be by becoming a museum guide who tells stories and makes people's day just by doing his job with love and vigor; it may be by becoming a coach who sees the light in a child’s eyes and guides her to pursue a dream; it may be by becoming a father or mother who leads a family on a Hero's Journey; it may be becoming an entrepreneur or business leader guided by compassion and integrity, or it may be by becoming an artist or writer who brings beauty to people's lives.
Why do you frequently mention heroes and Hero's Journey?
The Hero’s Journey prepares Learners for their own individual Hero’s Journey in life, asking four questions:
Who am I?
What commitments must be made and kept?
Who will walk beside me? and
Why am I here?
The primary purpose of the Hero’s Journey is to inspire particularly our older Learners to choose apprenticeships, as mini-adventures that eventually will lead to a calling in life. A calling is defined as where gifts, joy and a deep burning need intersect.
What is your mission?
We believe that each of us has a special calling in life, and a series of trials and tests that must be faced with integrity and purpose in order to live a satisfying and fulfilled life. Our mission is to prepare your child for his or her special journey.
Is River Oak Academy a Montessori school?
Our Spark Studio has an AMI & AMS-certified, veteran Montessori Guide but River Oak Academy is not a Montessori school. We use the best of Montessori methods: mixed-age classrooms, student choices within limits, large blocks of work time, learning through “discovery,” and freedom of movement in the classroom. Then we go three important steps further by utilizing the best 21st-century e-Learning tools, immersing learners in real-world projects, and adhering to the Socratic method, which emphasizes asking good questions to cultivate critical thinking. Our learners don’t just memorize facts; they learn how to learn, learn how to do, learn how to be, and learn how to live together.
Why do we have guides instead of teachers?
Our guides guides the Learners without letting them feel their presence in a traditional sense so that they may never be the obstacle between the Learners and their obtaining experience in learning how to learn. Guides are game makers who propose exciting challenges, set boundaries, and invite Learners to start a life-changing journey. They equip Learners to engage teachers (who are not necessarily adults), coaches, experts, and mentors whenever they need one, rather than to be captive to a single teacher-as-authority figure.
Is River Oak Academy a religious school?
While we expose children to the importance of mindfulness, ethical principles, and the significance of religion in history and the development of society, we are not a religious school. We deeply value and respect each individual’s beliefs and welcome families of all faiths; therefore, we do not teach a specific religion.
Are you able to support children with special needs?
We are not trained or staffed to serve children with serious learning disabilities, special needs, or who need specialized attention or IEPs.
Is River Oak Academy accredited?
Yes, we are accredited by the International Association of Learner Driven Schools. Also, Acton courses and schools are approved by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
What is Acton Academy?
ROA is an affiliate school to Acton Academy. AA is a rapidly growing network of independently-owned and operated schools that offer a fresh and innovative approach to education. It is school reimagined for the 21st century. Currently, there are almost 200 Acton schools across the globe. To learn more check out our What is Acton page. We are an affiliate school that uses best practices but we also draw inspiration from and are a reflection of our community. To view all our affiliates, click here.
Since there are no grades, how do we track progress?
We use Journey Tracker, an online platform exclusively designed for the Acton network of schools that allows Guides and older Learners to document and share with families all aspects learning. This allows us to focus on every learner's process and document their unique learning journey (as opposed to posting photos of a final product). The ultimate goal is to provide all families with a fluid understanding and connection to their child's experience at school. Journey Tracker allows every child access to their individualized portfolio.
Why don't you give tests or grades?
Standardized tests only determine which students are good at taking tests, offer no meaningful measure of progress, and have not improved student performance. Furthermore, because each state develops its own tests, standardized tests are not necessarily comparable across state lines, leaving nationwide statistics shaky at best.
Instead of tests or grades, how do you prove a child's learning?
Young heroes celebrate the mastery of tools, skills and character by earning badges, assembling portfolios and taking part in public exhibitions. Parents use badges to track academic progress in Core Skills like reading, writing, math, and character development in “Learn to Be” Badges. Electronic and hard copy Portfolios capture rough drafts, photos, video and other creative work.
Public exhibitions at the end of most Quests allow young heroes to present work to experts, customers or the public for a real world test.
What are Quests?
Quests are real-world projects to master 21st-century skills. Usually lasting four- to six-weeks, each Quest includes a series of challenges bound by a compelling narrative and is designed to deliver 21st century skills while simultaneously incorporating traditional topics like science, math, social studies, and history. Samples of past Quests are:
Detectives Quest that delves deeply into forensic science.
Filmmaking Quest that challenges them to think as a director in a film that they create themselves.
Survivor Quest where they learn skills to stay alive in the event of being stranded in the wild.
How will my child learn Science?
Our science learning comes in the form of quests with real world problems to solve rather than textbooks and written tests.
We don't believe that children need to spend years memorizing science facts and repeating ‘classic’ experiments and should be able to go straight to the juicy bit of science – tackling real world problems and coming up with solutions.
When you are on a journey that matters, learning is a tough, gripping, exciting and necessary part of life. Reading textbooks is fine. There is simply so much more.
Why do you have mixed-aged studios instead of grouping children by age or grade level?
Children learn best when working with those younger and older than themselves rather than split up into groups based solely on age. In addition to an individualized curriculum, all ages of children work together in groups. Mixed aged classrooms help to foster independence and support social and emotional growth.
How will my child stay on task in a self-directed environment?
River Oak is a self paced environment. Some Learners may move more quickly and others may take longer and we are doing everything we can to discourage the idea of “grade levels” and calendar bound graduation. We empower the learners by leaning into their curiosities, which make their learning timelines look different. A learner’s ability to set and track goals in order to evaluate progress is essential to success in a student-driven, individualized learning environment. Learners need ample time to practice setting specific, measurable goals that are challenging but realistic. Younger children hone their ability to choose and engage in independent work. As the children get older, our guides help with the development of time management and goal setting skills until older learners are able to make and follow their own simple work plans. Older learners set weekly and daily goals, track progress, and establish a rhythm of meeting with peers to hold one another accountable.
Do you offer any type of scholarship?
Unfortunately, scholarships/tuition assistance is not available at this time. We do offer sibling discounts.
Do you accept Immunization Exemptions?
We would on a case-to-case basis.
Do you do background checks on all employees & volunteers?
The safety of the children in our community is extremely important. We require background checks on all of our team members and volunteers as well as all parents, guardians, and anyone authorized to pick up or drop off any child. For new families, we require this check to be completed prior to finalizing admissions.
What is your Allergy Policy?
ROA recognizes that allergies, in some instances, may be severe and even occasionally life-threatening. ROA cannot, however, guarantee this action will take place on the part of others. ROA cannot guarantee that lunches or foods containing allergens will never be present, as the school enjoys a community lunch that is shared by Learners. Parents also contribute snacks, food products are brought for potlucks or celebrations, or served on off-campus trips. Therefore, children with severe food allergies and their parents must carefully monitor their child’s food in these situations.
"River Oak Academy provides high quality, personalized learning in a family-type environment, preparing children for their future education, growth, and development. My girls absolutely love their school. They wake up in the morning ready to tackle the day, especially since every day is a new adventure of learning and fun discoveries."