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The expertise to help you soar to where you want to be.

 

Raising the bar: bringing science and expertise to all.

 

It’s common in education today to divide kids into groups: “typical,” “special education,” “learning disabilities,” etc. But the truth is that every human being is not on “a spectrum” but rather sits at the intersection of myriad different spectra: how well do you process visual information, recall unrelated information, respond to auditory instructions, maintain your balance… the list goes on.

We are redesigning how curriculum is developed and presented in the classroom to appreciate these differences, breaking apart “reading,” “writing” and “math” assignments into the specific cognitive tasks they employ and moving each child forward by presenting new content through the skills where they are the strongest while employing research-backed strategies to target those skills they find most challenging. We do this across the board—not just for cognitive skills but for the executive function, social, sensory, physiological and emotional tasks (like managing academic anxieties) that they engage.

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To facilitate this, everything that happens in the classroom is designed through a collaboration between our content instructors, occupational therapists and neuropsychological expert, with many classes taking a co-taught approach. Rather than pull outs to correct handwriting, our occupational therapist is the one who teaches handwriting in the first place. And instead of pull outs to re-regulate our learners’ bodies through movement, we have developed our exclusive, Body-Informed Learning curriculum for all our learners, integrating movement into our core academic curriculum to leverage children’s bodies as powerful learning tools, rather than fighting kids’ need to move. Noone is asked to write an essay without executive function supports to help them organize their thoughts, and we let our language therapists lead the way in setting the sequence of writing genres to match what we know about all children’s cognitive development. In other words, we have designed our instruction from the start to address the two things all our learners have in common: a growing body, and a trainable brain.

Targeted additional support where it’s needed—so there’s time to play after school.

In our view, a scientifically-informed classroom should be the baseline: the starting point for all educational settings. However, part of our commitment to individualization and to serving children who have complex learning profiles is the recognition that for some children, additional specialization or more intensive targeting might be required in order to address their learning needs. These services will be offered in small group or 1:1 settings, as appropriate, and will be delivered or closely directed by therapists having deep experience with complex profiles, including speech and language pathologists, reading (including dyslexia) and math specialists, psychological counselors and occupational, physical and vision therapists.

In each case, our goal will be to schedule these Therapeutic Intensives in a way that minimizes feelings of difference, and within the context of shared community experiences together with their peers. This is facilitated by our approach to curriculum for all our learners—namely, that we build individualized programs scaffolding skills across the six core pillars of our Whole Human Education. For instance, within our “Community” pillar, one child may be working on leadership skills while another is working on managing the sensory overload attendant on being in a shared learning environment. Each of this children is working on the appropriate next step up in a scaffolded set of “community” skills. We are acutely aware that “inclusion” doesn’t just happen but must be architected into the design of our program, and are attentive to the need to do just that.

And, we are equally aware that the after school hours should be a time for self-exploration, family, friendships and play—not structured therapies. Yes, there will be (a reasonable amount of) homework but our goal is to meet our children’s educational needs within the school day and community, so there’s time to play and be kids after school.

The expertise, compassion and science to help each child live their best life… starting now.

Cajal Academy is specifically designed to meet the needs of children having complex profiles, including those with learning disabilities and those for whom academics are just one part of the learning they need to achieve their own potential. We take a holistic view of each child’s needs and prioritize within and across them according to how we can best improve their life-lived experience. Coaching on each child’s unique, personalized strategies to help them self-monitor, self-regulate and self-advocate across intersecting areas of challenge is integrated into their specialized instruction as well.