The Park Century program of instruction is a child-centered curriculum. Children attending Park Century School have access to three types of instruction for optimal learning: one-to-one instruction, individualized instruction, and small group lessons.
First, one-to-one reading and / or mathematics instruction is provided when needed. In such a setting, a teacher can work most effectively with the unpredictable variations in a child’s attention span, memory, processing speed, motivation, and psychological state. Perceptual disorders and language-based learning disabilities are addressed by using specialized and individualized techniques. Speech and language therapy is also an essential component of the program of instruction for many of our students.
Next, individualized instruction serves as a bridge between 1:1 and group instruction. Subject areas such as written language, grammar, spelling, organization and handwriting are particularly responsive to this mode of instruction. Through individualized instruction, the teacher strengthens a child’s basic skills, promotes self-esteem, builds independence, while still addressing each child’s unique learning profile.
Thirdly, social studies, science, and study skills are taught in the small classroom group. The curriculum is presented on the students’ grade level and interest level, while the materials are adapted to the students’ reading level. Physical education, visual and performing arts, media and computer instruction are also provided. Assistive technology instruction is incorporated into the program of students who need this accommodation. When students show readiness in reading and/or math, they transition to more advanced literature and math groups to prepare for their next school.
Additionally, a program of instruction for the child with learning differences must also emphasize the building of character and social skills. Some children misperceive the feelings of others and are also unaware of the effect of their behavior on other people. These difficulties in socialization create a distance from peers, making the child feel rejected and undermining self-image. Thus, a social curriculum is integrated throughout the day. Daily interactive experiences provide the basis of instruction about socialization and provide opportunities for the classroom teachers to observe and help develop the social skills of their students.
Over the course of more than 40 years, Park Century School has developed an environment that is sensitive to the whole child. In addition to addressing the learning needs of the child, the School helps the students and their families navigate through the emotional issues that might arise both in school and out when one has a learning difference. Anxiety and low self-esteem often accompany the diagnosis of a learning disability. This emotional stress interferes with the child’s ability to learn. Teaching and communicating empathically allow learning and personal development to progress more successfully. Beyond remediating academic skills, such important abilities as resilience, self-advocacy and mindfulness are continually fostered.
Park Century School helps the whole child by utilizing an individualized team approach that includes teachers, administrators, outside professionals and parents. The teachers’ diverse backgrounds of training and experience enhance this collaborative effort. A school counselor is available to meet with students individually or in small social groups. In addition, professionals, such as psychiatrists, neuro-psychologists and developmental pediatricians in the Los Angeles community provide faculty consultations regularly.
The faculty participates in ongoing training to stay current about the most effective methods and programs for supporting students who might be struggling with having learning differences. This training is accomplished through professional development such as attending conferences and workshops, along with on-site consultations with medical professionals in the community. Newer faculty members are educated in assessing ongoing needs and evaluating the progress of a student.
As team members, parents are provided ongoing opportunities for communication, support and education. Parents and teachers are in frequent contact. In-depth parent conferences attended by the student’s entire team are held twice a year and team meetings are scheduled as needed. In addition, the School provides lectures and educational workshops for the parent.
From a student’s admission to Park Century, continuing through to graduation, it is the School’s goal to prepare the student for success in a traditional educational setting whenever possible. Upon graduation from Park Century, the administration and faculty continues to work closely with the family and the new school to ensure a smooth, successful transition.