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"Homeschool on Steroids" or How We Instruct at Maricopa Christian Academy

Updated: Jan 24, 2021

I lost count on how many people, mostly dads, made that comment after observing a typical classroom at one of my schools. My preference in describing the method of how our students at Maricopa Christian Academy learn is "Active Participation".

That is what you would observe if you were to watch a typical class of students.

The academy is built on some basic ideas. First, every student is working on goals determined by each student's skills learned from the day before. If the student did meet his mastery goals in math, then he moves on to the next goal. If he did not meet his goal, the teacher will use the appropriate strategy to assist him in understanding. the goal not met. The student does not wait for the rest of the class to understand the math goal. Neither does the class wait for him to complete his math goal. And the student does not move on without mastery because time is up.

Second, it is the teacher's responsibility that the student master his goals. This is a very important difference we hold to that is different from the rest of American education. We do not blame the student for not understanding a concept or performing a task. The blame is put on our teachers for not breaking the information or skill down enough for the student to be challenged yet able to meet mastery.

The student meets with his teacher individually from twenty to over thirty times a day. Each meeting lasts twenty seconds to one minute. Time enough to teach, review, correct, encourage, admonish or answer questions.

All of our students see meaningful progress daily. Each student at Maricopa Christian Academy works on his goals and his goals alone. The only group activities during the day are for physical education and Bible.

And just like a home school, our grades are mixed together. It works better than having students together based on age. I have done this for over forty years with two schools I have managed, as an instructor in a public school multigrade class and my special education classes. I currently teach kindergarten through fifth grade students together.

The multigrade classes quickly develop an encouraging camaraderie. The competiveness of same age classes and comparing themselves to each other instead becomes a daily encouragement from older to younger and younger to older.

Our instructional materials are mostly written by parents or grandparents who had the idea they could do better. And most of those instructional materials we use at Maricopa Christian Academy follow the solid educational research of teach and review or what is commonly called "The Spiral Method". Something mainstream schools sorely lack. The constant review of mastered skills helps those skills be retained for longer amounts of time.

These materials have proved themselveds over time - Saxon Math, Horizon Math, English from the Roots Up, Easy Grammar, MCP phonics, Pathway Readers and our writing system that has allowed our students to win national, regional and local writing contests.

Give me a call if you have any questions.

Photo by Jessica Lewis

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