We know there is no more helpful reference point about a school community than a fellow parent. One of our middle school parents graciously agreed to be interviewed by a local radio station. We wanted to share with you what she had to say about her school selection process, why her family chose BASIS Independent Silicon Valley for middle school, and what changes she has seen in her two students since starting in our program in grades 5 and 6.
Please tell us a little about your background, your children, and what you looked for in a school.
"We began our BASIS Independent Silicon Valley journey when our eldest child was looking for a middle school. We looked around the Bay Area for a school that would provide more of a daily challenge in the classroom. My eldest is an avid book reader, but he would often end up reading in his classes because he felt they were so basic. We discovered they were teaching just enough to pass the state standardized test. He would self learn via Khan Academy after school. It was completely backwards of how it should be! He would say “I’m so bored, Mum!”, about his school day.
Also, while looking for my eldest child’s school, my youngest told us how he too was feeling bored and his teachers “kept repeating the same science experiments every year." Ultimately, both were not being fully engaged.
The education of our children is an important topic for any parent. For my husband and I, we were looking for a school that would offer an accelerated academic program, but still be well-rounded in other areas. BASIS Independent Silicon Valley is really strong in STEM subjects, but they are ultimately a liberal arts and sciences school. They have great offerings in Latin, Logic, Music, Arts, etc. The school community is strong as well. There are lots of amazing school clubs and extracurricular opportunities - even a theater program that produces a professional quality stage play and musical every year.
Before we came to BASIS Independent Silicon Valley, we were actually considering leaving the country in order to find the same quality of education that we both grew up with, decades ago in Australia!"
What about BASIS Independent Silicon Valley and the BASIS Curriculum really piqued your interest and made you decide to enroll your children here?
"We actually let our kids decide for themselves which school they’d like to attend. Sure, we guided them a little, but it was ultimately up to them. As Australians, we were looking for a curriculum that was built from the best global education practices and systems.
It was clear that BASIS Independent Silicon Valley went far beyond the minimum standards that we were so unhappy with. From 6th grade onward they have separate Physics, Biology, and Chemistry classes taught by subject experts - not teachers with just a general teaching degree, but people with real life experience in their subject.
The Math curriculum is also great and years ahead of other schools. It was the only school we looked at where that was true, every other school just stuck to the same slow progress curriculum. The Saxon Maths Textbook that BASIS Independent Silicon Valley uses is wonderful. It builds on itself each chapter, while also still testing from previous chapters. It teaches real math, the way we, those with an international background, learnt math.
My eldest came into the school in 6th Grade and what piqued his interest was having access to a “real” laboratory where they would be undertaking different Chemistry, Biology, and Physics experiments. He was also keen to continue guitar by learning the Bass Guitar in Music. He really enjoyed music last year, and didn’t just like the academics of the subject, but that it was taught by an amazing musician and teacher."
You mentioned that the school truly reflects an international program. Can you tell us why an international learning approach matters to you and why you feel it is especially important today?
"Sadly, grade school education in the U.S. these days does not rank well internationally. In California especially, we see education being negatively impacted. Yet to me, we are citizens of the world, and so we wanted to give our kids that international education that we grew up with! Then we found it - BASIS Independent Silicon Valley.
The global educational approach we saw at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley was exciting and stood out amidst the educational landscape offered in the Silicon Valley, and far beyond.
It offers a well-rounded, accelerated pace to education, pulling the best aspects of learning from around the world. The standards being taught are really up to world standards and are preparing our children for a global economy. Additionally, our kids are being taught by subject matter expert teachers, many with an international professional experience background, which was more than we’d ever dreamed of!"
How have your children adapted to a new school and program? And how has BASIS Independent Silicon Valley supported them through their transition?
"Both kids have adapted amazingly to the school. It is my eldest’s second year at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley, and we truly appreciate seeing his own drive to learn, study, and even teach his little bro ‘all manner of topic’.
They are both more engaged now and don’t complain about being bored anymore, as they truly enjoy going to school each day. Finding friends and others who are interested in learning about the world around them is just the icing on the cake!
Both kids enjoy the sciences immensely. My 5th grader’s subjects include Latin, Maths, Art, Music, Introduction to Science, Classics (or History), P.E., and English. In the 5th grade they begin to learn about the basics within these curriculum areas and how to truly study. The teachers provide suggestions or songs on how to remember the Latin declensions or the history of Egypt. Teachers also have ‘Office Hours’ where they can ask for help each week if necessary and the “Peer Tutoring” opportunities for kids to learn from their fellow friends, enables kids to practice what they are learning and teach it as well. This preparation helps them to excel even further in the higher grades.
In 6th grade, BASIS Independent Silicon Valley separates the sciences into Chemistry, Physics and Biology, then adds Engineering in 7th grade as an elective option. Each year builds on from the previous year, similar to the Saxon Maths Book style of learning!
They are also both enjoying their extra-curricular activities immensely which includes Java Club, Film & Television Club (including animation) and Board Game Club. We also do other activities including volunteering opportunities outside of BASIS Independent Silicon Valley, that helps them to (hopefully) become well rounded kids and adults in the future."
That sounds wonderful! It seems your children have really become excited, active members of their school community in a short time. Have you noticed any changes personally about your children since they began school here?
"We have noticed that both kids are definitely more interested in school and learning again. They are more engaged and are receiving more positive class participation accolades and grades. Both kids appear more confident in their school work and about wanting to help others.
My youngest has already signed up to be a Student Ambassador for the school and also a Peer Tutor for Latin. My eldest is already a Student Ambassador for the school and will show other potential students around BASIS Independent Silicon Valley in the months to come. So they might even enthusiastically meet your child at the next BASIS Independent Silicon Valley Open House or Shadow Day!"
BASIS Independent Silicon Valley is a grades 5-12 private middle and high school located in San Jose, CA. We provide students a spiraling liberal arts and sciences program benchmarked to the top education systems in the world. We are now accepting applications for grades 5-9 for the 2020-21 school year.