iForward is excited to officially announce that we have expanded our online school to include kindergarten through 5th grade. That’s right – we are now accepting elementary students! With 14 years of experience in online education, this represents the next big step in iForward’s mission to bring a high-quality distance learning option to every student and family in the state of Wisconsin.
For years, we have received many inquiries from our existing iForward families, along with frequent questions from new families, asking us when an option for elementary school students would be available. We have been chomping at the bit, ourselves! The difficulties that many Wisconsin families have experienced over the past year as their brick-and-mortar schools adjust to online education has only increased the urgency that we are all feeling.
However, before we could expand to grades K-12, we had to take the time to make sure that we reach the same standards of excellence in online elementary education as we hold for grades 6-12. As any parent knows, the needs of our kids change over time as they grow and develop, and education is no different. We love our students. We believe that they deserve no less than the best, and now that we are confident that we can deliver an outstanding experience for online elementary school, the time is right to make this option publicly available.
Given this big change, we wanted to share the nuts and bolts of our K-5 learning platform with you. Our website will be updated with a new course catalog in the weeks ahead, but because we realize that many families are looking for options now, we feel it is important to get as many details to interested families as possible. Here are a few key points about our new online elementary offering:
Our teachers: Besides our wonderful students, our teachers are iForward’s greatest strength. We have built a team of dedicated, skilled, and licensed teachers who are excited to invest their energy in our new young learners. An iForward student once quipped, “I’ve even had a teacher help me at one in the morning”, and while our elementary students might not be up quite that late, they will be no less cared for than the rest of our students.
The curriculum: Our K-5 curriculum focuses on core classes like Math, Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts. Alongside these essential building blocks, students will be able to choose between a variety of electives, such as Art, Physical Education, Tech Ed., Spanish, Music, and Guidance. This means that our elementary students will learn the same key subjects at iForward that they would in a brick and mortar elementary school, while also giving them some flexibility to explore their interests over time.
The learning environment: Like our other students, K-5th graders will have live lessons with excellent teachers using the best online learning technology. Our elementary students will be provided with a fun, interactive, and safe learning environment where they can interact with their teachers face-to-face and ask questions about the subject matter at hand. Each class consists of a lesson, followed by a work period and intervention block in which the teachers can work with the students in smaller groups. This approach ensures that we go deeper than merely teaching the right content. That is important, no doubt, but our teachers take the time to check that our elementary students are comprehending the lessons and seek to build positive relationships with them.
The school day: In an effort to provide the best environment for our young learners, our K-5 students’ days will look just a little different from the rest of iForward. While our 6th- 12th graders have classes that typically go throughout the day, elementary school days are somewhat more condensed. The kindergarten school day begins at 8:00 am and goes to 12 noon, while 1st to 5th graders will go from 8:00 am until 2:30 pm, with an hour break for lunch.
Another adjustment that iForward is making to the regular school day is that the teachers for each class come in and out of a single online classroom, rather than the students having to log in and out of each teacher’s classroom. This makes it a little bit simpler for the students and lets them focus on learning. As they get older and move into grades 6-12, they will take greater ownership over managing their technology and go between different virtual rooms for each class.
To sum it up: iForward has taken the necessary steps to ensure that your K-5 student can have the same outstanding learning experience that our online middle school and high school students receive, while making some necessary tweaks to accommodate the unique needs of this age group.
We know you probably still have a lot of questions after reading this. Please know that our team is here to help. Our Open Enrollment Coordinator, Vicky Diffee, is on standby to help you as you consider our school, along with the rest of the iForward team. You can reach Vicky by email at vicky.diffee [at] iforwardwisconsin.com, or by phone at 715-463-4905. Alternatively, if you are ready to make the jump to iForward right away, you can click the “Apply Now” button below to get started.
We look forward to hearing from you!