Our staff is qualified to teach and instruct every student on a personal level. We provide a learning environment that encourages both traditional and free thought.
Discovering Truth, Transforming Minds, Rebirthing the Culture
Unfortunately, our current education system is failing our children at every level. In 2019, the national statistics showed that only 34 percent of 8th graders were “proficient” in reading and/or math, and this was before the pandemic. Despite the country’s abysmal results in education, the priority is not on improving reading and writing but on sex, transgenderism, and Critical Race Theory.
Gaining a Quality Education in a Safe Space
At Renaissance Classical Christian Academy, we teach using the time-tested methods of the past. Over 95 percent of our kindergarteners are reading because we teach using phonics. First graders can write grammatically correct sentences because we teach grammar. Our second graders are doing long division because students have memorized the times tables. By the seventh grade, students are reading Plato, Herodotus, and Tacitus and discussing the great ideas of the past. True education is not recitation of facts for a test but teaching students how to learn. An education system has obtained success when the student can teach themselves.
Even the pagan Greeks recognized that real education was incomplete without the spiritual element. C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying, “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.” Our first goal in education is placing the Lord Jesus Christ in the center and developing a student’s character to reflect their Lord. Christian virtues are always reinforced, and the gospel light used to see the world.
Frequently Asked Questions
What About Learning Disabilities?
Upfront, Renaissance is one of the most academically advanced and challenging schools in the area. The school does not officially make any special allowances for a learning disability. However, that does not mean that Renaissance is not the best school for your child. The real question revolves around what exactly the problem is and the parent’s willingness to assist the learning process. The following paragraphs briefly discusses how we handle varies problems and concerns.
My child has ADHD
Let’s face it. Sitting still in a classroom and trying to read while there are fish to catch, puddles to splash in, and aliens to kill goes against the way God made most boys (and some girls). I know; I was one of them. I made horrible grades in school until I learned to control my tongue and thoughts. As Dr. Dobson points out in his article “Boys in School,” this has been a problem since there have been schools. If your child has Attention Deficit Disorder, the typical classroom can only exacerbate an already difficult situation.
Many parents that have a child diagnosed with, or suspect their child has, ADHD, do not want to medicate their child. I can certainly understand this, especially for a child with a slight to moderate disorder. The long-term effect of the drugs must be weighed against the detrimental effects on the child’s learning by not being medicated. For some children, the proper medication is the difference between the ability to make an A and the total frustration of the unavoidable F. For others, the child can avoid the medication but will have to learn to discipline the wandering mind. The classroom setting may seem to be rigged against your child, but by practice and determination, a child can learn to focus on the subject at hand.
So how does Renaissance handle boys or girls wanting to be anywhere but in a classroom seat? What is needed is more structure, not less. The classroom needs rules, sure discipline, and a small class. The last thing a child like this needs is an opportunity to play or have anything to distract his attention. For younger children, much of the instruction is taught in a group setting with as much physical activity as possible. Individual work is done in a quiet classroom (or with soft classical music) while the teacher monitors the daydreamers and minimizes distractions. Finally, teachers of younger students are taught to be tolerant of the fidgety student, as long as he/she does not become a distraction to others.
For the busy parent, the bad news is that school is only part of the solution; the most important piece is parental involvement. Many children can overcome and outgrow their difficulties without medication, but it does require a concerted effort from the parents. This may require several hours a night for many years working with your child before you start seeing any results. The more consistent and dedicated the parent is, the shorter and less painful the process is.
We have had success in teaching the active minds to be scholars without medicating them. However, this only works with supportive parents and obedient children. A child that will not submit to the teacher’s or parental authority cannot be effectively taught until this issue is dealt with. Just one unruly or disobedient child amongst other children will inhibit the learning of others and will not be tolerated in the Academy.
My Child Has Trouble Reading
Many children with this problem do not have a learning disability; they have a teaching disability. Almost every child can learn to read and read well. The problem is the method of instruction.
This country’s educated elite decided about 60 years ago to totally abandon the phonetic methodology for an untried system of reading. This system requires a child to memorize a word by sight, much like the Chinese must learn every symbol of their language. Since that time, our literacy rates have continued to fall. This method is totally unnecessary since the letters in a word have sounds associated with them.
Our written language is based upon the fact that letters or groups of letters make a certain sound. The vast majority of English words can be pronounced and spelled correctly based upon a set of phonetic rules. Foreign words (e.g., spaghetti) and Old English words that have lost their inflections (e.g., does) are troublesome to a reader using phonics. Fortunately, these words comprise a small portion of our language. At Renaissance we teach the phonograms and a few dozen rules, and with only a few exceptions, our children are reading within the first few months. Most Pre-Polly and grammar students are reading at grade level by the end of the school year. The average student at Renaissance is reading above grade level by the end of two years.
There are two other things I would recommend parents do to help their child read. First, read to and with your child. Younger children will truly enjoy the attention given them. Their desire to impress and please you will drive the majority of children to at least try to read. It is the practicing of phonics that will improve the reading.
My second recommendation is almost as important as the first – choose great books. Dr. Suess and Golden Books are fine for a three and four-year-old, but by five, children’s reading should transition to children classics. Old Fairy Tales are timeless in their ability to catch the imagination and subtly teach moral lessons. Books like Winnie the Pooh will have children laughing at the silly situations that Pooh gets himself into and wanting to know how he will be rescued. For older children, classic fiction like The Adventures of Robin Hood or Anne of Green Gables will develop an appreciation for literature, if not a love of reading.
Great literature is great for a reason: it draws a person into the story. Our use of nothing but the very best literature is one of our keys to success. Children raised on simple or trite literature will soon be bored by it and believe that reading is totally unnecessary. Once a child discovers that reading can be fun and captivating, even if they never become an avid reader, they will be willing to read much of what is required.
My Child has Dysgraphia or Dyslexia
At Renaissance we have had a couple of students with these difficulties. As you probably know, there are no real cures, only coping mechanisms to help the child overcome them. My experience with these students is that most are well behaved, though shy. We are willing to work with and assist the student as long as he/she is not detrimental to the rest of the students.
We have had two students with diagnosed Dysgraphia. Their teachers suffered through their handwriting. We have required summer penmanship work and typed reports to insure proper grammar. In both cases the handwriting improved to legible quality over several years. The grades in handwriting, grammar, and spelling were poor because the teacher could not read what was written.
Mild forms of dyslexia are pretty common (roughly 20 percent are dyslexic to some degree). Students struggling with this ailment have to train their minds to handle the mental distortion. The severity of the dyslexia will determine the impact on academic skills and parents should be prepared to accept and applaud lower grades. Renaissance will make certain allowances with students with diagnosed severe dyslexia. These allowances will have to be worked out between parents and teacher based upon the severity of the disorder and the subject at hand. However, requirements will remain the same, and the student may be required to do additional work (or redo work) to keep up with the class.
What about Technology?
The first assumption is that these electrical gadgets are relatively harmless. The New York Times recently published an article called “The Dark Consensus about screens and our kids begins to emerge from Silicon Valley” with a sub caption of “The devil is in the cell phone.” It seems that there is a large consensus among the computer senior executives, that they do not want their children around iPads, computers, or cell phones until they are in their late teens. Gates, Jobs, Cook, and nearly every major executive in Silicon Valley either prohibit or greatly limit their children’s “screen time.” There are some executives that disagree, but they are a minority. The people who understand computers the best are not worried about their children’s future success by limiting their children’s technology. What they are concerned about is the very real damage that can happen to a child’s mental and social development. The chances of addiction are high. Girls can get ill, have panic attacks, and go through withdrawal by losing their phone. Boys will not eat, do homework, or even sleep in their attempt to reach the next level of the game. This is not to mention the nude selfies, pornography, or cyberbullying that parents must vigilantly guard against. Research is just now becoming available on how destructive pornography, social media, and gaming are on a child’s social and mental development. The damage done to the child’s psyche by these machines can be as permanently crippling as losing a limb.
The second assumption is that early exposure to technology will help the child use the devices of the future. I also believe this is a fallacious argument. First, computer technology is advancing so fast that major universities are barely keeping pace. Unless you are going to be a computer science major, it is highly unlikely that you will have much need for computer programing skills in the near future. Second, that same technology is making human interface less and less difficult. When I was in college, we used a program called Fortran. The interface with the mainframe computer was done through a set of punch cards (often 12 to 18 inches high) that had to be perfectly punched and correctly sequenced. Any error would invalidate the entire program, and a detailed search had to be done manually to find the error. Today, computers are far more user friendly and will become more so in the future. Therefore, human computer interface will most likely require even less skill tomorrow than is required today. The computer skill that college students need is the ability to effectively research and write on a topic. Those skills can be taught and are taught adjunct to other instruction.
Finally, according to the National Foundation for American Policy, roughly 71 percent of the technological workers in the automation field are Asian males from 3rd world countries. The majority of these wealthy technocrats grew up with limited availability to modern technology, but a lot of exposure to hard work, math, and books. Few children need instruction on how to use our modern gadget,s and if they lack anything, they seem to learn it in minutes.
What our children need is a disciplined mind, logical thought patterns, abstract thinking, a solid understanding of math, and the ability to effectively communicate. Can these skills be taught by computers? I do not believe so. Gaining a disciplined mind will probably never be taught through entertaining games. Since computers cannot think in the abstract, it is unlikely they will ever be great at teaching a person to do so. Writing is far more an art than a science; so again, computers have very limited applicability. There are programs that can effectively teach math skills, but they are poor substitutes for a good teacher and time spent grappling with a thorny problem. These programs are best used in reinforcing principles taught in class.
It is our position at Renaissance that a child is far better served by the healthy social interaction that comes from the old proven methods of teaching children. Will a day come when computers will be superior to a teacher and a classroom? Perhaps, but I think not.
What about discussion of sexual topics in the classroom?
There is a huge difference between human sexuality and “sex education.” The former deals with the nature of man and the latter with the act of copulation. The former is unavoidable in the classroom, and the latter is best taught by parents (and scientifically by the biology/anatomy teacher).
Starting in Genesis 2, we read that God made mankind both male and female. Man is a sexual being, regardless of those that try to deny it. Any study of the Bible will bring up difficult questions like – Why were Adam and Eve naked? Why did God destroy Sodom? Why did Jacob have two wives? What is a concubine? What is a foreskin? What is adultery? These are just a few questions that will arise from any good children’s Bible. When these questions are asked by grammar aged children at Renaissance, they will get a vague but truthful answer. If pressed, we will suggest they talk to their parents. However, as the child enters the logic stage: theology, many of the great works of literature, history, art, and science demand a more forthright answer.
The real difficulty is determining when and how to address the thorny sexual issues of our culture. It would seem obvious that the best time to engage a person on any subject is before they have formed an opinion. If you have a preteen, you might be surprised how firm an opinion they may already have on topics like homosexuality, abortion, divorce, and the like. Hopefully they have a Biblical one, but there is a high probability that they will have a very worldly one.
Most Classical schools have chosen the 7th grade as the age to openly discuss human sexuality. It is not this school’s intention to usurp the parent’s authority in this area, so students are always encouraged to discuss any cultural topic that will be talked about in class with their parents the night before class. Parents should know that Renaissance holds to the historic position of the church on every sexual issue.
Sexual discussions are infrequent but do come up as part of the curriculum. A student in the 7th grade will discuss the Biblical and cultural view of marriage, homosexuality, abortion, rape, and divorce. Famous works of art are shown that can depict varying degrees of nudity (e.g.; Michael Angelo’s David, Jacques-Louis David’s Intervention of the Sabine Women, etc.). As the students reach the Rhetoric stage, more adult topics are discussed in class (e.g.; Grecian/Roman views of life and sexuality, ancient/medieval comedy that is very reminiscent of the crude comedy of today, pornography and its effect on cultures of the past, etc.).
The purpose of these discussions is to have the student think critically through these and other cultural issues from a biblical and historic lens. Most, if not all, the perversions of this age will not withstand the light of reason, history, or the Bible.