Prisma is the world’s most engaging virtual school that combines a fun, real-world curriculum with powerful mentorship from experienced coaches and a supportive peer community
A few years ago, a meme blew up online about what we learn in school. There were several variations, but the joke was that school didn’t teach skills like how to do taxes, buy a house, get good credit, or find a job, but it did teach...that “the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.”
The meme was relatable to anybody who has ever reflected on whether or not they learned useful information in school. Do you ever remember saying, "Why do we need to know this?" while doing proofs in geometry, learning about ancient civilizations, or analyzing Romeo and Juliet?
Whether traditional school prepares us for real life is a genuine concern many have about the education system. Especially in the wake of the pandemic, when parents got a direct view into what their kids were learning, many have wondered if the current model of traditional education should be completely rebuilt. Some have taken matters into their own hands, choosing to withdraw their children from public schools and switch to homeschooling, worldschooling, or innovative virtual schools, such as Prisma.
At Prisma, one of our learning values is that education should prepare learners for the real world. 98% of Prisma parents say that our school does a better job preparing their learner for the real world than their last school. “The real world problem solving the learners do is unlike anything they do in more conventional schools,” says one parent. “If anyone tells you kids aren't ‘ready’ to consider meaningful topics like the world refugee crisis, neurodiversity, building a business, or scientific research, don't listen!”
In this blog post, we will explore what it means to prioritize real-world learning, and provide concrete ideas from our program for making learning more real-world at different grade levels.
We hear a lot about the need for real-world learning, but what does that really mean?
Here are some of the ways traditional schooling doesn’t prepare kids for the real world:
Real-world learning is an approach that equips students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary to succeed in the world beyond the classroom. This involves teaching students how to apply their learning to real-life situations, exposing them to various career paths, and providing opportunities for hands-on, project-based learning.
There are several reasons why traditional education may not adequately prepare learners for the real world:
What would it look like to redesign education to focus on real-world learning?
This was our approach at Prisma:
Education has focused on knowledge (learning facts & information) for a long time, but in the 21st century, when all the world’s knowledge is accessible at the click of a button, we believe skills are more important. To design our learning framework, we consulted research from organizations like McKinsey and the World Economic Forum on what skills will be needed in the future of work. These skills included critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, communication, and adaptability. We designed our curriculum to build those real-world skills over any particular piece of content knowledge.
How does this work in practice? For example, instead of forcing every learner to learn a certain set of facts about a historical era we decided is important, Prisma learners get to choose which historical eras they’d like to research, and use hands-on project-based learning to create podcasts, museum exhibits, websites, and more inspired by history.
To see the value of learning, students should know the purpose of their learning experiences, rather than being told, "you need to do this because I said so." Teachers should explain how academic subjects connect to real-world experiences and students' future lives.
How does this work in practice? At Prisma, we begin each live workshop and project with a chance to explain how the activity is relevant to learners’ goals and lives. We ask kids to reflect on how they’ll use the information or skill in the future.
Schools should provide opportunities for students to engage with professionals, exposing them to diverse career paths and broadening their horizons. This could involve inviting guest speakers, organizing field trips, or establishing partnerships with businesses and organizations.
How does this work in practice? At Prisma, we invite parents & other experts to serve as mentors when one of our interdisciplinary themes aligns with their area of expertise. For example, we had a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist speak to learners when they were working on a news article, and had engineers volunteer to help on projects when learners were working on engineering inventions.
Not all real-world learning opportunities are appropriate for all ages. To make learning more real-world, different approaches should be taken at various grade levels:
Implement project-based learning that is hands-on and engaging. Project-based learning brings more real-world relevance than traditional education because it is collaborative and more focused on building problem-solving skills rather than regurgitating information.
Learners of this age are ready for curriculum that addresses real-world problems. For example, students could work on a sustainability project, learning about the environment and collaborating with experts to develop solutions for their community.
Real-world learning is the most important at this stage, when kids are about to enter their adult lives. We offer work experience and learning opportunities where students can explore different career paths. At Prisma, all 12th graders spend a significant portion of their week engaged in a virtual or in-person internship.
A real-world education should involve hands-on learning experiences, a focus on problem-solving, and opportunities for students to engage with mentors and authentic audiences. By redesigning education to emphasize these elements, we can better prepare learners for the challenges they will face in higher education, the workforce, and life in general.
By providing students with real-world learning opportunities and fostering critical thinking skills, we can empower the next generation of entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders, and innovative thinkers to make a meaningful impact on the world.
Want to learn more about how Prisma can empower your child to thrive?Talk with usTalk with us
How kids can design projects that solve real-world problems
Falling in Love with Science
There are plenty of ways that homeschoolers make friends and engage with their peers, while still reaping the benefits of a homeschool education.
Tools to build self-awareness and resilience
The real world isn’t divided into school subjects. Learn how we design our interdisciplinary curriculum.
Explore the importance of education for children’s overall development and get practical tips for convincing your kids of its importance.
The Superpower that Turns Kids into Lifelong Learners
Why is it that in a world of unprecedented technological advances and time-saving innovations, we seem to be busier than ever before?
Imaginative play isn’t just for preschoolers. Here’s how to spark your child’s imagination.
Engaging kids in the kitchen goes beyond food preparation. Here’s how to incorporate cooking into your weekly lesson plans.
The job landscape is shifting before our eyes. Here’s how to help kids navigate future career choices.
If your child has doubts, here’s how to help them get to a “yes.”
With adolescent mental health in crisis, here’s how to support your high school student’s well-being.
At its core, creativity is the expression of our most essential human qualities: our curiosity, our inventiveness, and our desire to explore the unknown.
The concept of critical thinking can seem vast and abstract. But one of the most meaningful ways you can start to tackle it is by rethinking the role of the teacher.
Imagine your child exploring new countries, meeting people from different cultures, and gaining a deep understanding of the world in a way that simply isn't possible in traditional education.
Unstick your child’s creativity, stretch their thinking, and improve their writing skills with topics that tap into their passions.
I never expected to find a family within my child’s school, but the leadership, teachers, parents and kids have become friends for life
Homeschooling can be overwhelming for parents. Here's how to recognize the signs of burnout & concrete solutions.
What’s behind your child’s complaint — and what to do about it.
If building social skills has been a bumpy road for your kid, here’s how to help them form healthy friendships.
The homeschool day can be quite efficient, compared to a typical public school day. Then, their school work completed, kids have plenty of time for extracurriculars, hobbies, unstructured play and generally... fun.
Possibly. But here’s what to do first.
To instill life-long healthy eating habits, take a hands-on approach
Distance learning doesn’t have to be a drag. Here’s how Prisma creates a community-centered online learning environment.
Distance learning is gaining popularity. Here’s what you need to know about online learning for high school students.
A bridge into high school, middle school is the time to prepare for independent learning. Here’s how to set the stage.
ADHD is only one reason for a short attention span. Find the cause, then try these tips for helping your child focus.
There’s no roadmap to develop a true passion — but here are ways to make the journey more fruitful.
Kristen Shroff is an experienced educational leader who has been with Prisma from the very beginning, first as a Founding Curriculum Designer & then as Head of School. Now, as CEO, she will lead Prisma into its next stage of growth.
Meet Claire Cummings, our Head of Middle School. Claire started out as a beloved Learning Coach in our middle school program before transitioning to the Head of School role in January 2023! She is based in Detroit, Michigan.
From making a meal to balancing a budget, here’s how to help teens learn to thrive in the real world.
In our Meet the Team blog series, you’ll get to read more about the innovative thinkers behind Prisma. Next up is Emily Veno, one of Prisma's Founding Curriculum Designers. After two years focused on building Prisma's middle school curriculum, in her new role as Head of Learning Innovation she works across both the middle & high school programs.
In our Meet the Team blog series, you’ll get to read more about the innovative thinkers behind Prisma. Next up is Leena Williams, the Lead Coach & Curriculum Designer in our new high school program.
Get to the bottom of your child’s apathy and help them find their ‘why.’
At Prisma, we believe the families and learners who like to call themselves Prismarians—are our ‘secret sauce’! Here we highlight one of our favorite stories from the Prisma community
From national parks to beach vacations, design an in-the-field learning experience the whole family will enjoy
Online learning takes many forms. Decide why you want to go remote — and the rest will fall into place.
Here’s how parents of ADHD children can set themselves up for successful learning at home.
Online learning doesn’t have to be distracting. These tips can prime your child to thrive at home.
From early childhood through high school, homeschooling provides the ideal setting to facilitate a gifted child’s learning. Here’s how.
And how can you support them in the classroom?
From fostering a love of learning to developing problem-solving skills, child-initiated learning is a pillar of a successful homeschooling journey. Here’s how to get started.
Focus on number sense and you’ll help your child add math skills to their toolkit.
Combine fun with a pinch of self-discipline, and you’ll be well on your way to a wellness routine your child wants to follow.
Kids need to develop their own world as they mature. But the stereotype of the zip-lipped pre-teen doesn’t have to be your reality.
It’s not easy to juggle full-time work and homeschooling — but it is possible. Here’s what we’ve learned about how to thrive.
Learning languages opens doors, offers connections and inspires new ways of thinking. Here’s some advice about which one(s) to pick.
Critical thinking matters for academics, work and relationships. Here’s how to lay the foundations at home.
Read about the hands-on learning opportunities one Prisma high schooler tackled in the Secrets of the Biosphere theme
Creative thinking is the key to problem-solving. Here’s how to foster creativity at home.
Traditional four-year college is only one option. Here’s how to inform your decision.
The Montessori approach focuses on early childhood. Here’s how the popular pedagogical method can lend itself to home-based learning for all ages.
Here’s what parents need to know about the popular social media network.
Here’s what every parent should know about facilitating a routine that works for the whole family.
Hands-on learning benefits all students. Here’s how to incorporate it into your homeschooling.
There’s no evidence to confirm the validity of these popular labels. But here’s how auditory learning strategies can benefit everyone.
Although no studies link these popular labels to academic achievement, here’s how visual learning helps everyone.
Here’s what parents need to know about the free, popular chat app.
Incorporate these reading tips into your routine, and you’ll be on your way to fostering a love of reading in your child.
Ready to Deck the Halls? Here are projects to engage kids of all ages—and tackle your seasonal shopping with DIY keepsakes.
More than just asking questions in the classroom, the Socratic Method helps learners test their own ideas in a real-life context.
Here are some guidelines to help sift through the infinite options.
When students set the conditions of their learning experience, they show more creativity, passion and sticktuitiveness.
With built-in lesson plans, educational tools, and endless problem-solving opportunities, Minecraft: Education Edition can help motivate kids in coding, science, language arts, and more.
Get into the spirit of gratitude with these easy Thanksgiving crafts for kids.
Teach children gratitude and they’ll experience better mental health, well being and social connection.
8 tips to ensure learning disabilities don’t get in the way of building reading skills.
Why does your child dread Mondays? Once you know, take these steps to help them (re)discover their spark.
To stop bullying behavior, educate yourselves and your children.
Bullying is about a power dynamic between peers. To interrupt it, first understand why it happens.
Children’s Mental Health is in Crisis. Here’s How to Help Develop Your Child’s Self-Esteem.
To reach their high potential, twice-exceptional children benefit from a flexible learning environment.
The holiday season is the time to get your hands dirty with these Halloween craft ideas - candy corn optional.
Dyslexic kids often lose their love of learning. Here’s how parents can help them rediscover it.
The challenges of adolescence can be magnified for LGBTQ kids. Here’s how to help them thrive.
From bullying to finding a safe bathroom, LGBTQ students navigate a tough landscape at school.
What we know about the relationship between ‘hard fun’ and learning. (Hint: It’s not about playing games in between worksheets.)
Here’s what we mean by ‘success’ at Prisma - and how we use it to help kids thrive.
What parents need to know about socialization in—and out of—the classroom to help your homeschooler thrive.
Child entrepreneurship is trending. Here are three steps to developing an innovative business that stands out from the crowd.
A hands-on approach to develop real-world skills, resiliency and a love of learning — here’s how we practice it at Prisma.
A Shared Name and Diverse Strengths Led Two Bens to Build an AI Writing Business.
When traditional public school isn’t the best option, consider these alternatives.
Five ways parents can help their kids see themselves as a work in progress.
Gifted kids face unique challenges when it comes to burnout. Here’s how parents can help.
For travel-hungry families dreaming of school vacation, there’s much to celebrate about shifts in the way we live, work and educate our children.
To create a customized education for your child takes more than a checklist. This three-stage framework can help you get started.
If you’re homeschool-curious, here’s what 100 families have to say about the biggest advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling.
With homeschooling, the sky’s the limit – and there’s a lot on your plate. Learn about how to make this growing trend work for your family.
Learning how to use the internet safely, smartly, and creatively is one of the most essential skills for success in our hyper-connected world. Prisma learners just wrapped up their Cyber Citizens learning
A live learning platform purpose-built for kids. It's a new, fun and engaging way for kids to learn and collaborate together virtually.
Technology has completely revolutionized how we shop, communicate, entertain ourselves, and even how we work, but no such revolution has happened in education.
We’ve officially wrapped up our first ever fall session at Prisma and are excited to share our learnings and observations with you.
Starting today, families can apply to join Prisma from anywhere in the USA. Here’s how it will work. You can still apply to any of our five founding cohort hubs (Chicago, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, or Tampa) if you live nearby.
Over the past week, as millions of parents have realized that traditional in-person schooling may not be safe or available come September, a new twist on an old phenomenon has emerged.
We're excited to announce the rollout of Prisma cohorts in 5 US cities: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Tampa and Salt Lake City.