What types of classes does STAR offer?
The goal of STAR is to provide fun and thought-provoking classes for our children. We do not generally offer core curriculum classes. Classes at STAR are designed to be the "extra", "out-of the-box", and unique classes these children so strongly desire and rarely find in the traditional classroom setting. The core curriculum needs for the child are intended to be met through other academic means (homeschool curriculum or other outside sources).
Class formats vary depending on the instructor and the topic. Some classes are lecture based, some are very hands-on, and some are active and physical, while others are all about discussion. Some classes have homework requirements. Occasionally some classes have very specific academic requirements that must be met before a child may enroll (ex. “Participant must have completed Algebra I”). When registering for any STAR class pay careful attention to the class prerequisites and class content to make sure the class is a good fit for your child. Please contact an administrator or the instructor if you have any further questions.
STAR strives to offer a variety of classes each semester. Past classes at STAR have included Chess, 3D Game Programming Using Alice, STAR Advertising Agency!, Acting with Shakespeare, Heroes, Myths, and Legends, If You Lived In...(Living History), Think Like a Scientist, Latin, Rocket Science, Medieval History, Inventions and more.
All parents are welcome and encouraged to suggest classes, find instructors, or teach a class themselves. Please contact a STAR administrator with your ideas and suggestions.
How do you decide which classes to offer each semester?
We try to involve families in the decision making process as much as possible. As soon as we get one semester started the administrators are already thinking about the next semester. We always appreciate family input about which classes and instructors are successful or not. Parents and children are encouraged to propose their class ideas and recommend instructors.
A month or two into the current semester the administrators will hold a meeting with parents and children to discuss proposed class ideas for the upcoming semester. This is followed by a more formal survey. The administrators try to plan classes based on family preferences and requests, while maintaining balanced class offerings.
The administrators generally try to choose instructors who we have worked with before or those who come recommended by one of our families. We do not conduct background checks or formal interviews. If we find ourselves in a situation where we are considering an instructor with no personal connection to STAR the administrators will try to get to know the instructor as much as possible before deciding to offer their class at STAR. This often involves face-to-face meetings or visiting the instructor as they are teaching in another location.
Parents are always welcome to observe classes as long as they are not disruptive to the class. Please talk with the instructor or notify an administrator if you have any concerns.
What are class sizes at STAR?
Most STAR classes have approximately 6-10 children. The exact number varies based on the instructor, type of class, and STAR needs.
If class registrations for a class exceed the maximum, children will be placed on an automatic waiting list. You will be notified if a space for your child becomes available.
Classes are filled on a first come, first served basis. Classes that do not reach minimums may be cancelled.
Are STAR classes accredited and will my child receive a transcript?
STAR is NOT a school or an accrediting organization and so it offers no official credits. However, some classes cover a course of study that could earn a half or a whole credit. The earning of a credit is the parent’s discretion. In the homeschool setting transcripts are also the responsibility of the parents.
May my child receive an age exception for a class?
The short answer is "no". The first thing to know is that most age ranges for STAR classes are set by the contracted instructors, and not STAR. Second, age exceptions are rarely beneficial at STAR because our classes have already been designed to be engaging. If we have done our job as STAR administrators and families correctly, no child should need an age exception into any class. Some classes will have very broad ages ranges. In those cases participation in a class will depend more on if a child meets the prerequisites for academic development/knowledge and fine motor skills. When registering your child for a class keep these thoughts in mind:
Will this class be academically intriguing for my child?
Does this class allow for my child to build peer relationships in a positive way?
Is my child at the correct developmental and maturity level to handle the class academically, emotionally, and behaviorally?
We have learned from experience that, with the exception of a few multi-age classes, STAR participants do best when we create a balance between age, ability, and emotional development. Many families come to STAR from situations where they have had to fight to get their children into challenging and engaging classes. We ask that you trust the STAR process and know that the bar has already been raised. If you still feel your child needs an age exception, please contact a STAR administrator.
If you are concerned about your child potentially being the oldest, or an outlier of any type, in a class that you are considering registering for please contact an administrator.
What are my options if a class my child is taking at STAR does not seem to be a high enough challenge for him/her?
While we at STAR strive to keep classes engaging for highly gifted children sometimes adjustments need to be made. If you have a concern about the level of a STAR class in which your child is currently enrolled, or if you have other questions, concerns, or feedback regarding a class, the first step would be to speak with the instructor. You will find most STAR instructors are proactive and open to raising the level of a class as needed. If you feel that your questions are not fully answered or addressed, the next step would be to go to one of the STAR administrators. Your input and feedback regarding your experience at STAR, especially feedback relating to classes offered at STAR, is greatly valued and helps us with future class planning.