A typical day starts off at 8:30 AM, to avoid the traffic of businesses and every other school starting at 8:00 AM, with a quick check on tasks that were expected to be complete by that time, followed by a discussion of headline news. Vidya uses a block schedule, in which each class is taught twice per week for 90 minutes each. Classes are separated by long breaks for nutrition, lunch and a chance to unwind. Typically, students take six classes per term and attend three classes per day. At the end of each day, students complete assignments in school under supervision.
It’s not uncommon for high school students to listen to teachers more than parents. So Vidya takes a deliberate approach with respect to homework to engage the kids with families and reinforce family values. The purpose of “homework” will, therefore, be to reinforce what was learned and spend time engaging their families and communities. Typical homework may include chores at home, physical exercise at home/park, watching movies, PBS shows, or TED talks; reading books; interviewing parents/caregivers, grandparents, siblings, cousins, neighbors, and teachers; and working or volunteering.
One day per week, typically Fridays, is set aside for discovery. During these discovery days, students may attend field trips to nearby businesses, parks, museums, universities, libraries, etc.; listen to guest speakers from the community to discuss career options; watch demonstrations or movies; participate in or watch performances by their peers; participate in or engage display of student work; discuss current events; engage in community service; complete online foreign language courses; or catch up with extra tutoring.
The continuity of instruction in a year-round program gives more time for students to master the subjects and gives parents a consistent schedule free of summer planning. Learning is spread over a sufficient period of time to digest and reflect upon and is sustained for periodic reinforcement of concepts. Year-round instruction eliminates the “summer slide” – the typical learning loss and lack of retention during the summer break. Families don’t have to search, apply and register for separate summer camps or activities. Learning continues uninterrupted. In our implementation of year-round school, the school year consists of three 15-week sessions – fall, winter and summer trimesters – with a three-week break between fall and winter and a two-week break between others. Students will be able to complete all high school graduation requirements in three (freshman through junior) years, leaving the fourth (senior) year for personalized, advanced or independent studies. This may include taking classes at a community college, attending a trade school, taking AP classes, internships, community service, or carrying out a self-directed project. Vidya’s counselors will guide students (and parents) in fulfilling their interests.