Get More From Your Grace Community School Education

At Grace Community School we are proud of our “whole life” education. Basic to this whole life education are our reading and math programs. Our curriculum has a whole lot more than that, including manners training, non-denominational Bible lessons, song and story times, physical education, and organized games. That’s a lot, but did you know there is more?

We have a variety of additional fun, enriching programs your child can participate in:

Karate Class

Karate kid.Our American Kenpo Karate Class is a favorite of our students. By teaching self-discipline, Karate Class helps kids with behavior problems. Martial arts training increase kids’ coordination, strength, and flexibility. Students earn stars, belts, and stripes that they can take home as they progress through the levels. This is a great way for kids to get physical education, gain skills, and have fun at the same time!

Dance Class

Dance studentGrace Community School’s Dance Class offers children the opportunity for exercise, development of motor and social skills, and muscle conditioning, all in an enjoyable environment! Each week kids learn the fundamental principles and techniques of ballet and jazz with their friends and our dance instructor. We also have an annual dance recital at our Christmas program!

Music Class

Child with tambourineIn Grace Community School Music Class, kids learn the basics of music theory, reading music notes, and instrument playing. Music lessons build a child’s self-esteem, increase coordination, help with concentration, and even boost test scores. Music games make it fun to learn. Perhaps most importantly, being able to play music is an expertise that gives pleasure for a lifetime!

Piano Lessons

Piano students.Piano lessons, available at some locations, are 30-minute, individual lessons in which students learn not only how to play songs, but also more advanced music theory and note reading — vital skills that apply to playing any musical instrument. It is amazing how much even young students can pick up! Our piano teachers use games and activities to keep things interesting.

These classes run year-round, and you can enroll at any time as long as we have space. Sign up for one of these programs, or all of them! For individual times and locations, you can click over to your school’s location page at www.gracecommunityschools.com. We do run waiting lists as needed, so ask your location for the sign-up form today to make sure your child has a spot!

Merry Christmas!

We made it! It’s almost the end of 2015. What a great year! Thank you for making the journey with us. Please remember that Grace Community School will be closed for the Christmas holiday from Christmas Eve, December 24th, 2015 until New Year’s Day, January 1st, 2016. We open again on Monday, January 4. You can find the full 2015-2016 school calendar here.

😊

A photo posted by Grace Community School (@gracecommunityschool) on

Our Christmas programs and gift exchange were extremely successful. You can find links to all our photo albums from the shows here, and for the gift exchange here. We had a couple thousand people come out for this year’s shows, and the crowds were enthusiastic! We couldn’t have done it without you. This has truly been a festive holiday season so far, and let us be sure to remember the reason for our joy:

Gracie Christmas Tree“And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.” Luke 2:4-10

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Daycare or School: What’s the Difference?

Originally published in the September 2015 issue of The Whale’s Tale.

Sometimes when people call us on the phone they ask, “Are you a daycare or a school?” The short answer is that we are both. The long answer is that there are a lot of important differences between daycares and schools. These are differences that many people might miss, but are actually very important. What’s the big deal? Let’s go back to the beginning.

First Grace Community School in 1986Grace Community School was founded in 1986 to be something different. We stood out from the crowd. Southwest Florida had daycares, but what it was missing was a place where young children could come to get an uncompromising education – this was not available. An education that was focused on learning and actually taught reading, while at the same time being fun and inviting. What came about was an extraordinary learning center – a true school. Schools are traditionally educational facilities, but not all are created equal. There is a difference between “schooling” and “educating.” Grace Community School is a school in the traditional sense in that education is in the forefront. At its simplest, a school is defined as “an institution designed for the teaching of students.” The key thing here is “teaching.” What you teach the students, and how you do it, is extremely important. These days people use catch phrases and fancy-sounding terms like “early literacy,” “emergent literacy,” and “reading readiness.” These things may not mean what you think! Daycares do not teach reading. Believing in the abilities of our students, Grace Community School from the beginning has taught real, actual reading. Children are capable of so much more than some people give them credit for. The learning program at Grace Community School has expanded to become a whole-life curriculum including music, physical education, martial arts, non-denominational Bible study, individualized math instruction, and more. Nearly thirty years have gone by, and we are still different!

Girl with reading book
Kids who read are happy kids!

What about daycare? If school is about providing a real academic program, daycare is about babysitting and basic care. In daycare, education is optional. There are no requirements, for example, that daycares teach actual reading. Sadly most daycares skate by with some “reading readiness” and a lot of toys. We have to do better for our children! Daycare programs are designed to prepare children for the public school, at best – which does not require literacy. Grace Community School students often graduate pre-k reading at a third-grade level. There is a very good reason one of our slogans is “College Can Begin at Two”! Our bright kindergarten students graduate reading at the fifth-grade level. Every child can learn to read — you just need to give them the tools. What are these tools? Phonics, individualized instruction, practice, and more practice! Grace Community School Reading Circles break the alphabet down into smaller groups so the kids can master one level before moving on to the next. After the alphabet and its sounds have been learned, then come the books. The result is preschoolers who can read! You won’t see this at ordinary daycares.

Pre-K Math Circle Certificates
Math Circle certificates celebrate our kids’ achievements.

We now also have Math Circles at Grace Community School. Similar to Reading Circles, Math Circles help our students master mathematics one concept at a time, starting with basic geometric shapes and progressing to counting, one-to-one correspondence, addition, and more. Certificates are sent home for both Reading and Math Circles to celebrate our students’ achievements, and the names of these students are printed in this newspaper. We are proud of our students, and we know you are as well. That’s a lot of learning! Ordinarily, care and education at this level would cost more, but not at Grace Community School. Our low prices, special introductory rates, no registration fee, financial aid programs, and free food help keep costs reasonable. We know that is important for our families. Grace Community School has nine convenient locations throughout Southwest Florida. From Port Charlotte to Lehigh Acres and Golden Gate, there is a Grace Community School near you. Don’t forget about our referral program! Tell your friends and coworkers, and you can get $100 for referring a family to any of our nine locations. You can get more information about Grace Community School at www.gracecommunityschools.com, and why not start referring your friends today by clicking one of the share buttons below?

Take Your Pick: Your Preschooler Reading Real Books… or Not Reading at All

Reading vs. Reading Readiness

Street Signs
Image: iStock

We love choices. Some choices are hard, others are easy. If you’re reading this, you have a choice to make where your child’s education is concerned. You could choose to have your child be taught real reading at Grace Community School, leading to your child reading at up to the third-grade level by his or her self at the end of the pre-K school year.

Or you could choose to have your child attend a regular daycare, where your child will be taught “reading readiness,” a teaching philosophy in which the teacher reads to your child (because the child certainly cannot read), and where your child might pick up a little bit of letter recognition by the end of his or her pre-K year. Daycares that teach reading readiness trust that the “print-rich environment” of printed signs and labels up on the walls will help the kids pick up some reading ability through osmosis. Your child deserves better.

Continue reading Take Your Pick: Your Preschooler Reading Real Books… or Not Reading at All

Christmas Celebration 2015 Photos

What awesome shows! Thank you to everyone for making them possible. Here are links to the photo albums from all the shows:
 
Port Charlotte
 
Fort Myers
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.918486874888904.1073742244.420062068064723&type=1
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/b/114381151455630600293/photos/114381151455630600293/albums/6226791854826604593
 
Bonita Springs
 
Cape Coral and North Fort Myers
 
Lehigh Acres
 
Skyline
 
Naples Park
 
Golden Gate
 


Please like and share!

It’s Almost Showtime!

Buddy the Elf
Image: New Line Cinema

We can hardly contain our excitement! One of the highlights of our year, the annual Grace Community School Christmas program, is coming up on December 4 (for our Port Charlotte location) and December 5 (for everyone else). We have a great show to put on for you, with wonderful music and some awesome dance moves. Our kids and staff have worked for weeks on this, and we are confident you will love it!

Kids at the Christmas programHere again are the dates, times, and locations:

December 4: Charlotte High School 7:00 PM Port Charlotte

December 5: Bishop Verot Anderson Theater 11:00 AM Fort Myers, 1:00 PM Bonita Springs, 3:00 PM Cape Coral and North Fort Myers, 5:00 PM Lehigh Acres, 7:00 PM Skyline; Gulf Coast High School 1:00 PM Naples Park, 3:00 PM Golden Gate

Please note that students need to arrive 30 minutes before the start of each show. The dress code for children in the show is Christmas colors.

Angels and singers.One of the things we have learned over the many years we’ve done programs is that people LOVE photos! We’re going to make it easy for you to get all the photos you want. Every photo we take on-stage during the show will be available online via our various social media accounts. Facebook and Twitter will have live updates throughout the shows so you can follow along. You will be able to get special videos on our Instagram and Vine accounts that you won’t find anywhere else.

ALSO: If you sign up for the Grace Community School email list, we’ll even email you the links to each school’s program photo albums and dance recital albums after the shows. Sign up here! DVD’s will also be available! We will be video recording each program show for your enjoyment. These DVD’s are just $5 each, and will be sold in each school’s office starting the week after the show. You may want extra copies as many people send these to grandparents and relatives as Christmas gifts — everybody will love them!  

We’d like to remind you again about the Grace Community School email list because we know you want to know what’s going on! The email list will make sure you never miss a dress-up day, party reminder, or special event again, so be sure to sign up at this link or on the left-hand side of this blog. See you soon!

Thankful

We would like to remind you that Grace Community School will be closed for Thanksgiving this Thursday and Friday, November 26 and 27. We hope you will be able to spend some time with your families, and especially to remember, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Colossians 3:17 (KJV)

Pilgrim boy at Thanksgiving dinner.Pilgrim girl at Thanksgiving dinner.In the spirit of the holiday, let’s give thanks together! We are thankful for:

  • our students
  • our parents
  • our community
  • the opportunities that we have been given in Southwest Florida over the past three decades
  • our families
  • food to eat
  • the work that we have to do
  • the special people that we get to serve
  • all the blessings we enjoy

And much more! May God bless you and your family this Thanksgiving, and we’ll see you again after the break.

What Are Reading Circles?

Girl with reading book
Our Preschoolers Can Read, and that’s a fact!

What are Reading Circles? Let’s find out! In a sentence: Reading Circles are the heart and soul of Grace Community School’s reading program. The powerful combination of phonics, one-on-one attention from a trained teacher, and the breaking down of the alphabet into small sections makes for fluent readers at an incredibly young age.

A common misconception is that kids can’t learn to read until elementary school. This is simply not true! At Grace Community School, children learn to read as young as three years of age. We’re not talking about memorizing sight words here; we mean actually being able to read new words by “sounding out” the letters phonetically. This makes it possible for the child to read even a word he or she has never seen before! The confidence this instills in kids is incredible. They start to believe that anything is possible.

Alphabet
In Reading Circles, we break the alphabet down into easy-to-learn groups of letters to help the children learn faster. Image: Canva

Reading Circles start with Grace Community students as young as two years old. Reading Circles start at the most basic level, the alphabet. The alphabet is divided into five sections, beginning with the vowels. Students learn not just these letters, but more importantly the sound that goes with each letter, along with a clue word to aid retention. By breaking the alphabet down into smaller sections and providing one-on-one time with the teacher each day, children learn quickly and progress through the Reading Circles at their own pace. Once one group of letters is learned, the child moves on to the next group until all twenty-six letters and sounds have been learned. Children receive certificates suitable for framing after each Reading Circle level is passed.

Next comes a series of beginner books called “Little Books.” In these books, “blends” are introduced: putting consonants and vowels together. After this, simple one-vowel words are taught. Once the students have mastered the Little Books, more advanced series of books are begun, leading all the way up to the kindergarten reading books and more complex words.

Because the kids learn at their own pace, they are never pushed too fast or held back; the instruction is always right at the child’s personal level. The result: kids who read! The certificates and books the kids take home keep parents informed of their children’s progress, and the kids love them! We hear all the time about how they read their books over and over at home. Parents can barely believe that three and four-year-olds are reading actual books!

We love to hear about the excitement parents have when they realize their child is truly reading. Maybe it’s in the grocery store when their child starts reading the label on a jar, or in the car when their child sounds out the words on a street sign. It’s a great feeling — there is nothing more precious than a child’s learning.

Reading books and photos
Nothing builds self-esteem for a child better than being able to read!

The A Beka phonics program that we use is at least two grade levels ahead of the public school. Each year, many of our students graduate from the pre-K program already reading the A Beka kindergarten books. This means they are reading at a third-grade level, something quite common with our students. It is not unheard of for our kindergarteners to graduate reading the second-grade reading books. Our students not only learn to read, they learn to read fluently. For a fluent reader, reading is not a chore, it’s a joy!

Teaching reading is what we do, and we’ve been doing it for nearly thirty years in Southwest Florida. We are excited to have the opportunity to be a part of your child’s life! You can find out more about Grace Community School at www.gracecommunityschools.com. If you are a Grace Community School parent, here’s a question for you: when and how did you first learn your child could read? Let us know in the comments below or share with us on Facebook!

Get an Instant Tuition Discount By Doing This One Thing

Phone Coupon
Image: Canva

Grace Community School is giving out $5 discount coupons, and all you have to do to get one is sign up for our email newsletter. That’s it! Go to our sign-up form here, and put in your info. Once you confirm your subscription, we will send right to your inbox a $5 coupon good towards tuition at any Grace Community School location. You can also sign up using the form on the left-hand side of this blog.

In addition to getting your $5, you will also be subscribed to our email newsletter and mailing list. Newsletters, updates, party notices, program news, and more will now be delivered via email straight to you. Good deal, right?

Success Through Early Literacy at Grace Community School

Originally published in the Fall 2014 issue of The Whale’s Tale.

It affects millions of children. Many people don’t know the problem exists, and most of those who do, don’t know what they can do about it. The problem is lack of reading ability—literacy.

Literacy, the ability to read: once the hallmark of the educated person, has become a rare commodity. In the United States, 30 million people have a 5th grade (public school) level reading level or lower. This is not real reading. A person who is a functional illiterate is “a person with some basic education who still falls short of a minimum standard of literacy or whose reading and writing skills are inadequate to everyday needs.”
Person with book
Image: Canva

Imagine not being able to properly fill out a job application, read an Internet news story, or understand the text on a ballot. Good reading skills are a necessity for these basic tasks. Even more importantly, those who cannot read well are limited in the ways they can get information. They are more dependent upon others. We want independent individuals!

The problem starts at the preschool level. Reading instruction is not given early enough, and when it does come it is the wrong kind! Sight reading and “whole language” does not work for most people. The best way for kids to learn to read is not to memorize sight words, or to be read to for hours on end, but to learn the basic sounds and symbols they need to read independently. Today’s emphasis on emergent literacy, the belief that children gradually learn to read by interacting with books and print (as opposed to purposeful instruction), is wrong and harmful. Reading doesn’t “just happen,” it needs to be taught.

This Grace Community School student is graduating kindergarten tomorrow. She is very proud of her reading skills. We are, too! Do you see why College Can Begin at Two is much more than just a slogan?

Posted by Grace Community School on Friday, May 29, 2015

So how do we teach it? There is a method, one that has been around for as long as the English language has existed: phonics. The letters of the alphabet are code for sounds. Letters and letter combinations represent sounds. When you decode the letters into the sounds they represent, you know what the words are. Teach kids to decode the alphabet, and they can read! With practice comes fluency and understanding. Decoding words into their sounds becomes second nature. The huge benefit of phonics is this: with phonics, you can read a word you have never seen before — memorization of words is not required. Phonics is the method of reading instruction, and this is what is done at Grace Community School.
Boy with reading certificateThere is no reason to wait until kids are in elementary school to teach reading. Our slogan says, “College Can Begin at Two,” and this is true. Reading is tremendously important for success in life, and the earlier these skills are acquired the better. More than that, though: learning to read at Grace Community School is fun!
Find out more about Grace Community School at www.gracecommunityschools.com.