Absolutely! Deerstream is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and will gladly issue a receipt for any donation. Tuition, however, is paid in exchange for a service and so is not tax deductible.
The admissions process is an information-gathering opportunity for both parents and Deerstream. It helps ensure an appropriate fit ahead of time between a student’s needs and what Deerstream offers.
To better serve our students! Professional educators sign contracts in early spring for the following year; discussions begin in late winter. Deerstream hires teachers based on anticipated need, so the sooner we know what classes will fill, the better positioned we are to get our first choice of teachers. Also, we need to know what our space requirements will be as we renegotiate the rental agreement with our host church.
Grade labels can be arbitrary and confusing; it is not uncommon for a homeschool student to work at different grade levels for different subjects. Thus we believe grade level is for a homeschool parent to decide. At Deerstream, we opt for age designations in classes.
Deerstream’s Elementary Division serves students ages 5 to 12 who typically are in grades K-6; the Junior Division targets students ages 12 to 14 who generally are in grades 7 and 8. The requirements of the Junior Division are more rigorous than those of the Elementary Division. Junior Division students are responsible for homework, lab reports, tests and quizzes, and class presentations. There is a strong emphasis on study and organizational skills in preparation for high school. In contrast, Deerstream’s Elementary Division program offers curriculum that is thoughtfully sequenced and academic in nature, but requires minimal work outside class.
Deerstream views sixth grade as a transitional year. In our Language Arts and Science programs, we call the 11/12 year old year “Junior Division Prep.” Compared to elementary students, more is required of sixth grade students outside of class―but not as much as we expect of Junior Division students. Junior Division Prep students will practice using a textbook as part of their learning and will be required to keep papers organized in a notebook. They will have some homework each week, and periodic tests and quizzes will be assigned. However, they will also retain the hands-on spirit of science that has characterized their elementary learning.
In choosing a lighter academic load for sixth graders, Deerstream heeds the advice of experts from the Gesell Institute of the Study of Human Development. According to researcher Louise Bates Ames’s book, Your Ten to Fourteen Year Old, sixth graders are typically very fatigued and in need of increased sleep. They “tire rapidly and, as a result, tend to show an inconsistent learning pattern,” writes Ames. “One day, the child does remarkably well, the next day appears to be not so bright… [sixth graders] show fatigue by becoming very scrambly, and when finally let loose may run wild. These fatigue patterns are similar to those shown at the earlier age of five and six and a half,” according to Ames.
Ames recommends a shorter school day for sixth graders; we translate this recommendation into a lighter load for our sixth grade students at Deerstream.
Our dress requirements are designed to help homeschoolers recognize that the atmosphere of Deerstream is more formal and structured than a relaxed home learning situation. We want our students to take their work seriously and feel a part of the Deerstream community. Modesty and comfort are key considerations.