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
Everyone seems to have a free e-book that promises the recipe for raising successful kids from a young age. As children’s mental health has become more precarious — due to pandemic stressors, unchecked social media usage and more — there’s no shortage of promises to put kids on the path to becoming successful people.
But before wading too deeply into the parenting advice pool, it’s worth it to stop and ask, “Why do I want to raise successful kids? What does success mean to me?” Do successful children grow up to obtain monetary success, job satisfaction, or make an impact? Or is success about whether they can have fulfilling family and friends in their lives?
Another way to think about it is to ask, “What is my child’s future world going to look like?” and reverse engineer to determine what traits they need.
This might be counter to your instinct to focus on what made you successful when you were young and try to replicate that approach. But we know traditional markers of success, like grades and fancy diplomas, aren’t working.
According to Julie Lythcott-Haims, former Stanford University dean and author of New York Times’ Bestseller, How to Raise an Adult, helicopter parenting has mental health consequences. Instead, she advocates for a hands-off approach that empowers young people to develop their own interests, build resilience, independence, sense of direction and purpose.
At Prisma, we call this “thriving,” and we define it as: finding and maintaining fulfilling and sustainable work, having positive social relationships, having emotional well being and making a positive impact on the world. Using that definition, we built our educational approach by asking, “How can we help kids thrive in the future?”
Today's generation of kids is going to live in a world of unprecedented change, starting from the possible career paths — many of which will be disrupted by AI. If 65% of today's elementary school kids will work in jobs that haven't yet even been invented, how do you prepare kids for a world like that?
In response to this challenge, we’ve created the four Prisma Powers.
Kids need to be on track of their core academic subjects, granted. But the bottom line is: book-smarts are not enough. Many kids who look most successful in terms of their schoolwork, are least well equipped to thrive. Kids who’ve chased external goals like perfect grades or college admission often find themselves at loose ends when it comes time to enter the workforce, because they’ve never had the time to define their sense of purpose. That challenge will only intensify for the next generation that will live in a world that requires constant self-reinvention.
At Prisma, we develop kids in four areas that we think will develop lifelong learners who are prepared to meet whatever kind of world is out there.
If kids are curious about the world, they’ll be motivated to develop the skills to learn about it deeply, which puts them on the path to becoming someone who has the skill set and the mindset to be able to change careers, learn something new, or become an expert in a new or changing field.
To encourage curiosity, let kids lead the way: Give them room to explore their intrinsic interests, give them plenty of time to play, and encourage them to engage their environment.
At the same time, kids need to learn what tools are available to help them go beyond the first creative spark. That means helping them understand how to teach themselves something: What are good resources online and how do you vet a source? How do you reach out to an expert to seek their help?
At Prisma, we foster curiosity both in terms of what we do and what we don’t: Taking a project-based approach, we give kids freedom to choose their areas of focus within a given topic and incorporate local exploration as part of the assignments; and we don’t bog them down with endless assignments and meetings, so they can use their free time to follow their curiosity wherever it leads.
A curious kid is more likely to grow into a lifelong learner, which means they’ll be able to teach themselves anything at any time. If they find they’ve picked a career path that doesn’t fit or becomes obsolete, then they have the tools to figure out, “Where next?”
Having an innovators mindset means being well versed in processes that help you solve problems and invent solutions. To do that, kids need to start thinking like a designer: clearly defining the problem, researching the end user, brainstorming and testing ideas, and then iterating until the solution is at its best.
There’s no “perfect” first draft for an innovator; it’s simply not the way innovation works. So in order to embrace this perspective, kids need to develop a growth mindset philosophy, pioneered by Dr. Carol Dweck. It requires getting comfortable with, and eventually embracing, feedback — and building up a tolerance for frustration. It's about letting go of a perfectionist mindset, which ultimately contributes to self-esteem and well being.
Although building an innovator’s mindset is not just about creating future entrepreneurs, at Prisma we find a fun, rewarding way to work on this trait is by building a business, based on whatever skills, passions or interests your child has.
Most of the most attractive jobs require collaboration — a trend that’s only going to intensify in the future. If you want to be heard, you’re going to need to be able to express your ideas clearly and persuasively, both in writing and verbally.
Communication and collaboration are two sides of the same coin: Effective oral and written communication is how learners can get a message across and collaboration is how they can get things done as a team.
To help your kid to develop their communication and collaboration skills, we recommend two things: encourage them to create the kinds of media they like to consume; and always have them think about their audience. Whether they are producing a podcast for their extended family, writing a letter to a politician, or editing the wikipage for their favorite video game, if they make something they are interested in consuming — for a real-life audience, they’ll be more committed to doing the hard work to bring it all together.
You can be the smartest person in the world. But if you can't follow through on your ideas, develop a work ethic, persevere through challenges, be organized and set goals, then you'll never achieve have meaningful impact or reach your potential.
There is no roadmap to life. To be able to execute on a vision in a self-directed way, children need to learn hold themselves accountable to their own standards, not checking off a role model’s boxes.
Get kids involved in directing their own learning, by practicing time management and organizational strategies that work for them. At Prisma we do this by building goal-setting and self-reflection into our learner journeys, so that they feel the value of making a plan and bringing their ideas to life.
If you want to raise successful kids, start by asking yourself, “What skill sets and mindsets are they going to need to thrive in a world of unprecedented change?” Once you have an answer, make sure that their elementary, middle school and high school environments help them develop those skills — so that they’re well-equipped to meet life’s challenges.
Middle School Curriculum Designer Lizzie uses her diverse experiences: studying Literature at Harvard, leading outdoor adventure expeditions, and teaching high school English, to help Prisma learners find their voices.
The pandemic has made homeschooling easier than ever before with a boom of online options from curriculum, to part-time programs, to full-time schools. But which is best for your family?
Prisma High School’s Launchpad Program will prepare learners to tackle their next phase, be it college, training, or an exciting career. Trevor Baker, our LaunchPad program designer, describes how he sets learners up for success.
You might have to jump in at first. But eventually, with the right modeling and practice, kids can develop the skills to make thoughtful decisions.
Middle School Curriculum Designer Gabe, an expert in interdisciplinary learning with a PhD from the University of Michigan, explains how he designs themes that blend together STEM and literacy.
One of the most fun parts of being a homeschooling parent is creating fun learning experiences for your kiddos! In this post, we share our favorite at-home activities and online resources.
Our Head of Middle School Curriculum explains how her team blends core subjects and real-world topics to design “hard fun” cycle themes.
One of the reasons our team wanted to develop a new kind of school was because we felt traditional schooling doesn’t put enough emphasis on developing emotionally intelligent kids. But what is emotional intelligence and how do you develop it?
"Carolyn is a miracle worker in math. Piper's attitude towards math has improved so much this year. It's never been her favorite subject but Carolyn's patience and encouragement has made such a positive impact." -Alexia A., Prisma parent
Media literacy is touted as one of the most important “21st century skills” for kids to master, in line with creativity, communication, and grit. Thinking through the amount of time most of us spend interacting with some form of media each day makes a good case for this.
“Lauren is fantastic and has struck a nice balance of connecting with Cooper and keeping him on task. I'm impressed to see real growth in Cooper around self awareness, reflecting on his “glows and grows,” and goal setting.” -Kym J., Prisma parent
“I've seen growth in my kids, and most importantly a solid relationship between them and their coaches. We feel so grateful for these amazing humans that have entered our kids' lives. My kids' words exactly: ‘These teachers actually want to be here. They really care!’ ” -Katie M., Parent in Kimberly’s Cohort
By introducing these concepts at home, you're setting your child up to be more financially responsible and savvy, giving them the tools to navigate an increasingly complex financial world.
“I’m so happy to have an opportunity to call out Javi. As a math educator myself I am really impressed with how he presents math concepts, differentiates for and challenges learners as needed. From a social-emotional perspective he is so kind, patient and invested in the kids as a whole. I am so happy he is Brynn’s math coach.” -Chandra S., Prisma parent
The ability to tolerate frustration is not merely about weathering the storm of the moment, but about instilling the persistence, adaptability, and resilience that set your child up for future success.
“We are eternally grateful for Prisma and the wonderful people who work there - especially the coaches - whose patience and expertise make our kids feel seen and heard and loved while also coaching them to learn knowledge and skills.” -Ashley S., Parent in Angie’s cohort
We are thrilled to announce that Prisma has earned accreditation from the Cognia Global Education Commission.
Online program? Good old-fashioned workbooks? A mix? Let’s help you unpack the options.
"Thank you for the bottom of our hearts for showing Story what it means to show up and do the hard work.” -Jenna W, Prisma Parent
Your unique way of processing the world brings with it challenges and rewards that color your parenting journey.
“Kristi sent Madeline a little note saying how much she likes seeing Madeline everyday, and Madeline grinned from ear to ear. Certainly a nice reminder of how different the relationship has been between coach and student compared to what we saw in public school.” -Pamela D., Prisma Parent
Many people assume advanced intellectual ability sets kids up for success in school, so when gifted kids struggle, it can be confusing for educators and parents.
“Despite Levi’s frustrations with science in the past, he had the most ambitious projects for Anne’s class. I love that she was able to inspire him!” -Joy J., Prisma parent
“Cindy is AMAZING! I’m so blown away by her accommodations, reprioritizing Parker’s to do lists, and always providing tons of encouragement. I’m knocked off my socks everytime I overhear her doing anything, really.” -Priscilla W., Prisma Parent
The first big surprise for me was the amazing team I would get to help me. I didn’t feel so alone when it came to supporting my kids' academic education.
“Natalie is so amazing and Karl has become very close with her. This year has seen Karl expand in his learning very much." -Anna H., Prisma parent
“Gwyn has been so wonderful to Jack. She is so relatable and authentic and really kind. She immediately bonded with him, and has really given him the freedom to be creative and take risks. She has made education and the whole "school experience" a safe place for him. With her support and encouragement, she has really made him thrive.” -Wren W., Prisma parent
How do you make sure the projects you design for your learners or homeschoolers are more than just volunteering, but meaningful learning opportunities?
In this blog post, we’ll explain what “school refusal” really means, possible causes of school refusal, and why rates might be rising. We’ll also share concrete strategies you can try if your child is struggling. You are not alone!
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The Superpower that Turns Kids into Lifelong Learners
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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.
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I never expected to find a family within my child’s school, but the leadership, teachers, parents and kids have become friends for life
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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
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Distance learning is gaining popularity. Here’s what you need to know about online learning for high school students.
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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.
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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.
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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.