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Our Big Learning KID program is a new kind of extended-day or out-of-school-time curriculum. Big Learning KID devotes equal attention to supporting academic success, encouraging creative expression, and building confidence and self esteem. Among our many successful students are children with learning disabilities and children with limited English. Children designated gifted and talented have also found delight and challenge in our classes. Here are some of our success stories.

Limited Language Skills
"Hana" is a 2nd-grader from Japan who has been in the US a very short time. Her English is very limited, and was very reluctant to talk during the discussion period at the beginning of class. But she worked independently on each Toymaking project, and completed all of them. She frequently decorated her toy with many detailed drawings that were always along the theme of the toy. If she got stuck building the toy, the teacher would help her figure out what to try next. Her face would light up in a kind of "aha!" moment, and she would dive back into building. The teacher said, "I think I could have shut the lights off and left and she wouldn't even have noticed, she was so intently focused on finishing each project."

ADHD-type Kids
"Sarah" is a 2nd-grader whose mother spoke with us before signing her up for the class. The mother said that Sarah had a difficult time sitting still and focusing, and for that reason, hadn't enjoyed other after-school programs. Sarah walked into the first class and immediately announced that "This class is boring!," and a few minutes into the class, announced "I'm not going to build that toy." She was fairly disruptive, frequently getting up and bugging other students. About halfway through the first class, though, she got interested in the project, and announced that she was "going to help Arthur build his," which she did. The toy they built together was quite different from the model toy, but they were both proud of it and decided they would take turns taking it home each week. The same thing happened the second week: she was uninterested and disruptive at first, then got interested and worked with a classmate. The Toymaking projects really captivated her, though, and from the fourth class session on, she participated in the discussion period, and worked diligently on each project.

Everyone's Smart in Big Learning
"Tommy" is a 4th-grade boy in the Toymaking class who took the Building Big and Small class a year earlier. He doesn't like to sit still, and he also doesn't like to be told what to do or how to do it. These traits can make it a challenge to have him in class. He's pretty clever at figuring out how to put things together, though, so he quickly got very interested in the projects in both classes. In one of the later Building classes, Tommy figured out a clever way to make his structure stronger, and as a result, it was much sturdier than most of his classmates' structures. He's very proud of that, and talked about it during the first Toymaking session, more than a year later.

Funneling Boundless Energy and Curiosity
"Peter" is a 2nd-grade boy who took both Toymaking and Building Big and Small simultaneously. He has seemingly limitless energy, and wants to be the center of attention. He vigorously participated in the discussion periods, but for the first few sessions, his point was always a silly one designed to make others laugh. He has a lot of curiosity, too, and really enjoyed working on the projects, since they're designed to foster student creativity, rather than being cookie-cutter projects where every student builds them exactly the same way. Peter worked hard each session to figure out a slightly different way to put his project together; this made each project his own, and after a few sessions, his class behavior improved dramatically. He still participated in the discussion period as much or more than the other students, but his points were now on-topic and interesting. One week, he wasn't able to finish the Toymaking project, and insisted that the teacher bring the materials to the Building class later in the week so he could finish then, which he did.

A parent wrote: "My daughter often complained over the years that she didn't enjoy her after-school activities, including everything from art to ballet. But Big Learning was completely different. Instead of complaining when I came to pick her up about how tired or bored she was, I could barely drag her out, because she so loved and enjoyed the activities that she never wanted to leave. She always came home bubbling with enthusiasm and talking excitedly about all the things they built or discussed, and it was clear that she connected with Big Learning much more deeply than with any other activity we had tried with her. She loved it, and I would highly recommend it to absolutely anyone. She definitely wants to do it again next year."

Another parent wrote: "We were thrilled with the Big Learning program. Our third-grader is rarely excited about the world of academics but each time after he finished a session at Big Learning he was extremely excited about what he learned, the processes he used and so proud of the finished product. He was obviously challenged and used critical thinking to solve challenges and work as a team to finish projects. This enthusiasm about learning has carried over into his classroom. This was a fantastic experience and we would recommend it to anyone."