Small Acres School Application and Admissions Policy
Small Acres welcomes students and families from all backgrounds. We are happy to admit a child with special needs as long as both parents and school conclude that Small Acres can provide appropriately for the child's specific needs. The school seeks to ensure that all prospective students are treated equally in the admissions process and will take reasonable steps to avoid putting any child at a disadvantage in matters of admission.
The Parent Information Meeting
Parents who are interested in Small Acres are invited to attend a Parent Information Meeting. These meetings are held once or twice each term and are open to anyone wishing to learn more about Small Acres.This is a chance for parents and interested others to ask questions and learn about the research and various theories upon which Small Acres is founded. Following that introduction to Small Acres, the parents will be able to arrange a trial enrolment for their child, provided the child is between the ages of five and eight years of age. Small Acres enrols children between the ages of 5 and 11, but we rarely admit a child over the age of 8 years.
Once parents have attended an information session, those with an interest in proceeding with the enrolment process at this point are invited to enrol their child in a two-week, part-time trial placement. The cost for this trial is based on the daily tuition costs and is paid in advance and is non- refundable. The child attends two days per week for two weeks from 9:20am to 2:50pm. The parents are welcome to remain at the school during a portion of this trial. We request that a parent remain to observe one morning meeting and we require that the child be able to stay on his or her own without the parent for at least part of the trial. During this trial period, the parent will be able to ask questions and discuss observations with us as time allows. During the trial, a meeting may be arranged at the discretion of the teachers to discuss any concerns or questions. We encourage parents to remain for at least a few hours during one of the trial days to be able to observe Small Acres in action, but we also will request that you leave your child for a portion of the trial.
At the end of the trial, if both the parents and the staff feel that Small Acres is the right environment for their child, and if the school is in agreement that Small Acres School can meet both the needs of the child and the needs of the family, then a meeting will be scheduled with the family for a final assessment of the suitability of the environment for their child and to discuss the steps necessary to complete the enrolment.
Final Enrolment Meeting
If possible, we ask that both parents attend this final enrolment meeting. This is meant to be a very informal and relaxed meeting during which concerns, and observations can be fully discussed. It is important that the adults understand that Small Acres strongly believes that children should learn when they are ready and that we do not follow the national curriculum. If this is a two parent family, the school requires that both parents state that they are in agreement with the school's philosophy, as we have found it to be an unworkable situation if one parent has misgivings about the approach of Small Acres, yet the child is enrolled anyway. We feel that this puts the child in an untenable situation and we would request that the parents give this considerable thought before completing the enrolment process
During this enrolment meeting, as well as filling out any additional forms and providing other information for the child’s records, payment of fees will be arranged, the parents will receive the Parent Handbook which will include information regarding the Board of Trustees, General Meeting, parenting workshops and community meetings as well as other important information*. Parents are expected to participate in at least one Communication Workshop as well as community meetings, as we feel that it is extremely important to create and maintain a bridge between home and school that includes establishing similarities in style of communication and boundary setting. We encourage parents to take an active role in the life and development of the school. Parent participation is actively encouraged in many forms.
*Parenting Handbook to be available summer 2016
At this time we can allow new families to enrol at any point in any term, and the fees will be prorated. The actual date of enrolment will be decided in the final Enrolment Meeting.
Withdrawing a child from Small Acres
Parents as well as the School are to consider the first term of enrolment to be conditional. Should it be determined by either the parents or the School, that Small Acres is not the right setting for the child, the child can be withdrawn from the school with one week's notice. All unused fees will be refunded. Following this period If you withdraw your child from school during a term, you will still be expected to pay a full term's fees and in most cases, you will be required to give at least one term’s notice.
Establishing Healthy Detachment
It is our goal to establish a healthy environment for each child where he or she feels supported and nurtured by the adults at Small Acres and can comfortably detach and establish a separate identity from the parents and a strong sense of self-confidence and independence. Once a child is comfortable remaining at school without a parent present, we will
ask that you leave by 9:30 and return between 2:50 and 3pm. Once your child becomes confident and comfortable at Small Acres, we encourage you to attend a morning meeting from time to time.
Parent Participation Programme
At Small Acres we encourage parent participation and this can take many forms, from attending community meetings to serving on committees and helping with various functions. Should a parent wish to become involved in the day-to-day functioning of Small Acres, he or she can apply to be a Parent Participant.
There are certain criteria that must be met in order to become involved on a day to-day-basis as a Parent Participant. First of all, each parent in the Programme must have a background and experience in child-led learning. This can be shown in a variety of ways: either from experience as a parent or student in another democratic school setting, through their profession or training, or by having been a parent for at least one year at Small Acres, attending communication workshops, reading and developing a solid understanding of child initiated learning and learning theory. It is also important that the parent enter the Programme only after their own child is settled and independent at Small Acres. We welcome parents to become involved in this way, as we know that a diverse community best supports the needs of the children. We will limit the numbers of adults present in the school, however, to assure that the school remains the children’s space rather than becoming an adult space. The number of Parent Participants will be limited to one or two per day at this time. The programme may be expanded as the school grows. There is no remuneration for this role, as it is strictly on a voluntary basis.