If you’ve ever wondered, “How can I help my child succeed academically in elementary school?” we can help. At Learnwell, our kindergarten through fifth grade program is designed to help students progress in academic, social, and mental/emotional skill-building.

How can I help my child succeed academically in elementary school through play-based learning?

Play-based learning is an integral part of a Learnwell elementary school education. Kindergarten and first graders learn foundational concepts such as number sense, counting, geometrical shape identification and beginning addition and subtraction skills through social interaction with each other and other classes.

Each week, they work to build on the skills they learned previously through centers-based and experiential learning activities with peers. They practice those skills in multiple environments, too — at home with parents, at school in their class, and even with older students.

The sixth and seventh graders at Learnwell visit the K/1 classrooms weekly to help reinforce concepts they’re already learning. The K/1 students get to practice reading to their older peers, and they enjoy playing math games together.

Our fourth and fifth graders regularly play games — such as “trashketball” in Mrs. Cori’s class — to review math skills such as fractions or measuring. Second graders have hosted publishing parties where they get to wear a special hat while reading something they wrote in front of classmates. They have snacks and cheer each other on for successfully completing the steps in the writing process: drafting, editing, rewriting, revising, and finally, publishing — a huge celebration among their peers.

Students in fourth and fifth grade spend time engaging in “cozy writing,” where they’re invited to bring in blankets, pillows, and mugs from home. Their teacher makes hot tea and they enjoy sitting on bean bag chairs, under blankets, and on the floor while they write.

By taking part in active history and science lessons, students in elementary school learn concepts that stick with them. Instead of memorization of facts, they might pan for gold while learning about the Gold Rush or build cars while learning about the physics behind an axle. They learn problem-solving skills as they make observations and test theories in science or as they lead a club and realize something they planned didn’t go like they thought it would. They also learn foundational math and science concepts in the school garden regularly while also practicing patience (waiting for seeds to grow!), caring for God’s creation (regular maintenance of the garden), and discovering what to do when a plan doesn’t work (strawberries are eaten by neighboring animals).

Students work with a parent volunteer to harvest peas and carrots in the school garden.

One of our young visitors recently spoke to a currently-enrolled second grader who declared, “We hardly do any worksheets! It’s awesome.” While teachers do occasionally reinforce learning through worksheets, they strive to make new concepts fun. We really do believe learning doesn’t have to be boring, and it can be far more than taking a test on material that’s soon forgotten.

Students in our fourth-grade class recently held an All-Day ELA day where they engaged in all sorts of games and activities to support the English Language Arts skills they’re working on. They played a matching grammar game and read their novels together with glow lights in the dark.

How can I help my child succeed socially in elementary school?

When students come to Learnwell, one of the first things they experience on a daily basis is being greeted by the same staff each morning. From car line drop-off to walking to their classrooms, elementary school students find comfort in familiar faces and a welcome from staff who know them.

They also get to learn foundational skills such as taking turns, listening, and learning from more than one teacher through interactive discipleship classes each morning. Students are actively learning about who God is through games, hands-on activities, and crafts — all led by our discipleship teacher in elementary school.

All K-5th graders are in discipleship together; they get to learn how to wait, how to listen without interrupting, and how to enjoy the company of students in other grades as they learn together about God’s love for them.

How do improved social skills help my child academically?

Other social opportunities include Club Days, field trips, and electives, not to mention playground time after lunch. Students in elementary school have the chance to make friends by leading a club on a topic of their choice or by attending another student’s club. Everything from Dog Club and Smoothie Club to Gymnastics Club and Soccer Club, the ideas our student club leaders come up with are vast and unending. Club Days take place throughout the school year. Not only are students in elmentary school learning leadership skills among their peers, but they’re also learning important executive functioning skills.

A student-led football club gives students a chance to practice empathy, patience, and executive functioning skills.

Executive functioning skills influence how students learn and progress academically for their entire school career, and they set students up for success in areas beyond school, too. These skills include:

  • Planning and goal-setting
  • Reflection and evaluation
  • Time management
  • Organization

So, as students are learning these skills while they lead or participate in a student-led club, they’re also building a strong academic primer for their future.

How does emotional intelligence and mental health factor into a Learnwell elementary education?

We believe elementary school is the right time to develop empathy for others and learn how to show kindness through daily interactions. Because our hybrid school model is structured such that students attend school two days each week and work with parents, grandparents or a tutor on the other three days a week, they have extra time to explore their personal passions and interests and develop close-knit family relationships and friendships.

These become a strong foundation for emotional intelligence and mental health.

When students are too busy or stressed by too much over-stimulization, they tend to shut down and struggle to remain empathetic toward others because their own emotional and mental health wells have not been filled. One of the core values we plan the entire school year around is something we call intentional margin.

Intentional margin means we want to support family time, outdoor play, and downtime. A Learnwell education allows for free time that gives students the space and freedom to explore rather than rushing from one thing to the next, coming home late in the afternoon and finishing homework, etc.

What do students need to know at the end of elementary school?

A Learnwell student isn’t perfect; he or she learns how to communicate effectively and with kindness as they practice giving presentations, reading their writing in front of peers and taking part in peer editing, playing games and grouping together for project-based learning. These are all backdrops to heping students develop the empathy we believe serves them well as they transition from elementary school to middle school.

Overall, students in kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth, and fifth grade are busy learning in a variety of ways. They’ll move to middle school as fluent readers, divergent thinkers who practice problem-solving well, agile mathematicians, empathetic and kind toward others, and effective communicators as they continue to advance their oral and written communication skills.