by Kat Griffith

     (Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part “Community Perspective” Griffith has written about a proposed competency-based, play-based charter school at Barlow Park Elementary. This week’s installment focuses on competence-based education. Next week’s will cover the play-based component of the proposed charter school.)

     Six-year-old Johnny is sitting at a table struggling to draw a picture of himself. He needs to be coaxed to draw each leg, arm, hand, his head. ...

     Nearby, Allyssa struggles to hold a pencil. She lacks the finger strength and coordination to grip it firmly. ...

     Next door, Caley is bored and fidgety — she has already mastered the skills her peers are learning. Her teacher notices that she has begun to disengage from many classroom activities. ...

     Talk to Barlow Park/Journey teachers, and you will hear a litany of such stories: of kids who can’t handle the expectations of five years ago, and of kids who are ready to soar the day they arrive — and of the increasing struggle to meet all of their needs in a conventional school setting. ...

     Barlow Park’s proposed competency-based, play-based charter school is the outcome of two years of exploration, study, experimentation and discussion by a staff dedicated to meeting the changing needs of their young charges. ...

     Two big ideas are driving the proposed new charter school: the role of play, and competency-based rather than age-based passage through early elementary school. ...

     Competency-based progress will give students the time they need to master a skill before moving on, and won’t present children with instruction for which they are not developmentally ready. They will be grouped not by age, but by readiness for particular skill sets. ...

Kat Griffith is a Ripon High School Spanish teacher.

To read the entire column, see the June 13, 2019 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.