Pancake and Maple Syrup Fundraiser at the Applecreek Farms Sugar Shack on Saturday, March 23, 2019 from 12pm to 3pm! All are welcome! Directions here.

Educating covenant children to be kingdom citizens

Teaching and Learning

In School

Contrary to what some believe, not the program of studies, but the teacher is the key in a reformed classroom. As a variation on the saying of the apostle James, we can readily say: “show me your classroom in action, and I will tell you whether it is a truly reformed learning environment.” It is, therefore, of the utmost importance that we as teachers consider and reconsider all our actions, not only with respect to our intentions, but also with respect to the perceptions of our students.

Focus of Learning and Teaching

The aims of reformed education as adopted by our school suggest that the focus of our work as teachers is in the first place on the students. We are called to educate our students in the fear of the Lord. Education is not in the first place a matter of transferring a certain body of knowledge or information from the teacher to the student; education is well described as an ongoing communication between teacher and students so that the young may learn from the older what it means to live and work as a child of God in the world that God has created so wonderfully and which has been so badly damaged by sin through man’s fault. Therefore, the focus of all teaching and learning in Bellstone is on persons first, and on subjects second.

Teaching as Enabling and Facilitating

It is the task of the teachers to help the students’ increase their competence and knowledge so that eventually they will be able to independently work and live as children of God. The development of the child’s talents and gifts – rather than the filling of minds – ought to be the second major dimension of our work. Teachers assist the development from child to young adult, facilitating this process wherever they can, and enabling the students to become more independent so that eventually they can make responsible, God-pleasing decisions. Another way of thinking about this dimension would be to consider what the students should be able to do on their own as a result of our teaching.

Integration

Sound instruction is based on units of learning that students can readily absorb and internalize. Therefore education comes in the shape of age-determined grades, of subjects, and lessons, and units, etc. It is essential that such a program does not fall apart into a series of unrelated events. All of education works together for the one goal: fear the Lord, as He requires from us in His Word. This scriptural fear of the Lord provides our work with a unified focus. Such unity of vision does not come about automatically as we teach the various subjects of the curriculum; in fact, it is essential that we work consciously to create for the students a sense of integration so that they come to see their studies and their lives as harmoniously integrated as a service to God and to their neighbours.

Students With Individual Needs

Not all students are endowed with the same gifts and talents. In fact, there are no two persons identical. Therefore, every interaction between teacher and student will be in some sense unique. The nature of education and instruction is such that there is always a move from the general – applicable to all – to the specific – fit for the one. Within the classroom setting this will often create tension between the intended, prescribed curriculum and that which each individual student actually learns. This tension cannot, and should not, be removed, but teachers should be well aware that each student is unique, learns in unique ways, and gains from the instruction in unique ways. Therefore, a third major dimension of the instruction at Bellstone will be close attention to the understandings, perceptions, and abilities of the individual students.

Assessment and Evaluation

An important aspect of instruction is assessment and evaluation of the academic progress of the students. Since we want to pay close attention to the understandings, perceptions, and abilities of each of our students, we must ask ourselves on a regular basis whether the program we offer is, indeed, fit for the students we teach. Consequently, the program we teach will vary somewhat from year to year just as our students vary from year to year. At the same time, we will also assess the learning progress of each of our students in order to ascertain whether adequate progress is being made, and whether adjustments may have to be made to the program and /or its presentation to optimize the learning of each student.

Reporting

The report cards used by Bellstone attempts to provide teachers with a clear tool to describe the progress of each student in relation to the prescribed curriculum (answering questions such as: Does the student understand the basic concepts of the subject? Is the student able to apply what he has learned in new situations?) Especially by means of personal comments the teachers can add further insight to encourage and direct the student in a personal manner. At Bellstone, therefore, we have chosen not to adopt a standard set of comments, but every teacher is encouraged to consider carefully the unique progress of each of his/her students.

Home and School

Bellstone Christian School is a parental school, established by Canadian Reformed parents in order to provide their children with education and instruction that in all things subjects itself to the Word of God as these parents confess it. Bellstone is proud – in the right sense – to be a parental school, and this is accounted for in all its activities.

Education as a Continuum from Home to School

As a school of Reformed Parents, the instruction at Bellstone is characterized by a conscious effort, to build on the principles taught at home. However, both home and school must be committed to make this work. As Christian parents, who take their parental responsibilities seriously before the Lord, they will show genuine interest that “their” school remains a truly parental Reformed School. The teachers will seek to provide education and instruction that meets the needs and abilities of each individual student. In order to do this well they need to know something of the background of their students. Parents need to know their school and the teachers of their students; teachers need to know their students and the families from where they come.

Home-School Contact

Various vehicles are available to promote the home-school contact. Some of these are general, pertaining to the school as a whole, while some are individual, pertaining to the individual students and their teacher.

  1. We regularly publish a newsletter called Milestones which informs the church community about the business of the school society, as well as the events in and around the school.
  2. We publish a weekly communication called The Bellstone Banner to inform parents about the activities in each grade. Each teacher adds her/his array of notes to the parents, classroom activities, things to remember, topics to be studied, etc.
  3. On a daily basis students (Grades 1-8) bring home their school agendas. We have increased the emphasis on the use of the agenda to help students become better organized in their schoolwork. The agendas provide space for teacher and parent comments, and we encourage parents to make use of this by checking the agendas regularly. Check the plastic pocket in the front of the agenda for class notes, etc. The Kindergarten teacher will use regular class notes to tell you what is going on in the Kindergarten classroom.
  4. Interim report cards are issued in October and April. A formal report card is issued in January or February and June.
  5. Interviews are scheduled by the school to accompany the first interim and formal report cards. Interviews for the second interim report cards are scheduled only at the request of parent or teacher.
  6. Parents are encouraged to contact the school whenever the need arises. Keep in mind that it can be quite encouraging and pleasant, not only to discuss concerns, but also to let each other know when children have performed well.
Students with Individual Needs

Bellstone offers a special education program for students who have special academic needs. This program is designed to provide such assistance as will facilitate the return of the student to full classroom participation, if at all possible. The document "Special Education Procedures" sets out the process necessary to determine a suitable individual educational plan for these students. Frequent and effective communication between home and school is essential to make this special education program a success.