If you hit a prism with light at exactly the right angle, it makes a rainbow. We believe that, like a prism, every child is multidimensional and has the ability to shine. But just as it takes the right environment for a prism to create a rainbow, it takes the right learning environment for a child to show their true abilities. This is why we named our company Prisma (aside from the fact that we think it sounds cool).
Our mission and vision is outlined on this page.
Initially, Prisma will accommodate kids going into grades 4-8. We plan to expand to other grades as future interest and capacity allow.
For many kids, these years of early adolescence represent a turning point in terms of happiness and wellbeing, both at school and more broadly. Along with more focus on peer relationships and belonging, social pressures increase. Kids at this age may begin to question “Am I normal?” and “How do I fit in?” Meanwhile, their brains and bodies are experiencing tremendous growth and change. As they simultaneously are building high-level deductive reasoning, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, this can become a cataclysmic time (mentally, emotionally, physically, and socially). In the midst of this, standardized testing, homework requirements, and workload increase while connections with teacher mentors decline when kids start to have multiple teachers, losing the relationship quality that continuity can provide. Because of these factors, we think this age is a critical time to offer a supportive alternative to typical school.
We are currently focused on perfecting our model for grades 4-8 before considering other grade levels. For families wishing to continue with virtual learning at the high school level we can recommend compatible programs. We are also happy to support families needing transcripts and reference letters for high school.
You can find a detailed description of Connected Learning here.
Yes, but we aren’t technically a “school.” Prisma kids are enrolled as homeschoolers but we provide everything a family needs to educate their child from home in a very low-lift way for parents (the majority of our families report spending less than one hour per day supporting their child, although this will vary depending on your child's level of autonomy) - think home-based learning on autopilot. We offer all the benefits of learning from home (a flexible, self-paced, learner-centric education) without the usual frustrations (sourcing curriculum, finding socialization opportunities, evaluating your child's progress, etc.).
No. The families who partner with Prisma are technically choosing to ‘homeschool’ in a modern, technology-enabled, and socially connected way. Registering as a homeschooler is a straight-forward process (that we can help you with) in the US and in many countries around the world. Prisma is not presently seeking accreditation or status as a ‘school’ but will reassess if we think this will enhance our model.
By engaging in Prisma's curriculum and approach, we believe every learner will move on from Prisma ready for rigorous high school academics, having built a strong foundation in Math, English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Computer Science and more. But we believe that high school readiness is the bare minimum goal, so we go further. We’ve developed a proprietary framework that captures the outcomes we focus on at Prisma. You can learn more about it here.
Kids who learn with Prisma will be prepared with all the prerequisite reading, writing, math, and research skills to be successful in any rigorous, high-quality academic program, including those at the most competitive high schools and colleges. The self-paced and self-directed nature of our academic model allows learners to move through content more quickly and at a deeper level than their peers in conventional schools. We also help learners develop impressive resumes that include expertise in technology, design, arts, and culture, well-developed verbal communication skills, and significant community impact and internship experience.
First, we’re not an online school, we’re a Connected Learning network. Many online schools simply transfer textbook material and testing to a digital format, provide virtual teacher-centered lectures, and then expect students to successfully learn. Prisma’s approach is entirely different and also offers so much more.
If you’re choosing between learning with Prisma and a conventional public or private school you’d choose us for:
If you’re choosing between learning with Prisma and an online school you’d choose us for:
All learning at Prisma is through the lens of our Prisma Learning Framework. Learners build a base of foundational knowledge and high-school-ready academic skills by following their personalized Learning Routines and develop essential 21st-century skills like creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration through exploring Prisma Themes, earning Prisma Badges, and attending synchronous Workshops.
Learning routines: Each child is given an updated custom learning plan every 6-week cycle based on their academic knowledge gaps, strengths, and goals. We utilize adaptive learning technology to give each learner exactly what they need—whether your child wants to accelerate several grade levels ahead in one subject while catching up to grade level in another, or simply wants to move at their own pace, on their own terms. Most learners spend 90 minutes per day working on their Learning Routines.
Workshops: Learners engage in 90 minutes of daily group learning time over live video. Instead of delivering lectures, coaches lead Workshops focused on the Practices above that take the following formats:
Themes: Learners explore a new theme during each 6-week learning cycle. We develop themes to be engaging, interdisciplinary, and rooted in urgent questions facing the world. Each theme comes with new Badges, new synchronous Workshops, and a resource library of the best texts, videos, games, and podcasts available. Sample themes include Cities of the Future, Prisma Newsroom, and All About Food.
Projects: Learners can earn Badges related to the theme each cycle. Kids choose from a library of project-based Badges based on their interests, get feedback on their work from their peers and learning coach, and develop a rich portfolio of creative work. Past Badges have included Sportscasting, The Chemistry of Baking, and App Design. Learners also earn one Mastery Badge per year by engaging in deliberate practice to develop a skill of their choice—anything from Italian cooking to classical piano to basketball free-throws.
At Prisma, socialization happens virtually and we have found that it is rich, meaningful and natural for most of our learners. In fact, one of the things that has really beaten our own expectations is how quickly Prisma friendships have blossomed and how tight-knit the learner community has become. We have found that socialization at Prisma comes with many of the same upsides that in-person school provides (i.e. the chance to make friendships, share common interests, blow of steam and provide support) but without the downsides that some kids struggle with in an in-person school environment (i.e. cliques, bullying and other exclusionary behavior). Our program provides considerable opportunities for kids to form friendships, from our standups where kids meet daily with their coach to share their thoughts and have fun, to team challenges, small-group exercises and group projects. We also have learner-run clubs, from gaming and entrepreneurship to art and baking, and a highly engaged online learner forum.
Having said all this, we do think in-person socialization is still important and we strongly encourage Prisma learners to have extracurricular interests outside of Prisma that enable them to meet with other kids in person. To this end, one of our requirements is that every Prisma learner be involved in an in-person team-oriented activity every cycle - be it team sports, theatre or community service.
There’s no doubt that it’s harder to embed physical activity into an online education but we endeavor to keep Prisma learners fit and active in three ways: 1) we have sourced amazing dance, yoga and fitness instructors to offer dance and fitness classes for our learners via live video, 2) we build fitness and other off-screen breaks into our kid's learning routines to encourage them to get up and move around during the day and 3) all Prisma Learners are encouraged to do a fitness badge each cycle by taking on at least one athletic endeavor in their community - be it soccer, hiking or judo.
We believe that there are very valuable ways for kids to use screens (e.g. for research, for learning about topics of interest and for meeting and collaborating with kids from other places) and less valuable ways for kids to use screens. We disagree with the idea that screen time is inherently bad. At the end of the day our lives and our work will increasingly utilize screens so it’s important that this is a natural part of our kids’ education and that kids learn to use technology as a tool to make themselves smarter, more productive and more worldly rather than becoming passive consumers of technology.
Prisma learners use screens to do engaging synchronous workshops and 'stand ups' with their coach and other learners (a total of 1.5 hours per day), they use screens to access adaptive learning apps that cater exactly to the child's level and speed of learning (usually less than 1 hour per day) and they use screens for some aspects of their projects (e.g. to write responses and read materials). We do believe there is great value to off-screen, hands-on learning, and we thus include as many off-screen options into our projects and independent learning routines as possible.
Academic rigor is highly prioritized at Prisma. Learning just happens differently here, for the better! Instead of checking boxes to meet externally derived educational standards, we encourage learners to follow their curiosity to excavate their interests and passions. This fuels learning that’s fun and engaging while facilitating whole-person development. Learning this way, along with the skillful support of our Learning coaches, enables the achievement of academic mastery while allowing the love of learning to flourish. Much of the recent wave of innovation in education focused on test scores as the gold standards of success. We believe that mastery of ‘core’ content and exceptional educational outcomes can be achieved without test anxiety, without dry lectures delivered to students, and without adults directing a child’s every move. We also know that now more than ever, top high schools and colleges are looking for well-rounded students with a rich portfolio of projects, a resume of real-world experiences, and the ability to express themselves with originality and confidence. Learners who partner with Prisma will be far ahead of their traditionally-educated peers in this respect.
Please have a look at our Program page to get a better idea of what a typical day at Prisma looks like.
Aside from our live synchronous workshops (which total 90 mins Monday - Thursday) families are free to schedule their days however they wish. Flexibility is one of the great benefits of our program. If families wish travel during the typical school year - that's no problem. We have many kids who tune into Prisma while traveling with their family (or simply take some time off during the school year). If families wish to fit in extracurriculars during the day or get-togethers with friends, that's also no problem. Having said this we do provide a suggested schedule for those families that want a clear structure for their child's day and many of our learners do follow this.
See our academic calendar here.
We believe that learners are more than a test score and that depth of knowledge cannot be assessed via traditional assessments. Learners are given rich written and verbal feedback on their contributions to their cohort, on their improvement in projects and badges, and on their self-paced, app-based academic learning progress.
That said, we perform a small amount of pre-testing in reading, math and writing to understand where each learner is coming from in terms of academic skills and we repeat these tests twice throughout the year to ensure that we are meeting the academic goals of our families. We also administer third-party and proprietary assessments (these are lightweight and generally require effort for coaches rather than kids) to measure learner well-being, 21st century skills acquisition, and social-emotional learning.
No. There has been considerable research showing that grades reduce kids' intrinsic motivation and encourage them to do 'just enough' rather than their best. Kids who receive low grades tend to get demotivated and kids who receive high grades often learn to put in just enough effort to get an A, rather than delving into topics for the love of learning and doing their absolute best. Instead of grades, Prisma learners receive in-depth and frequent written and verbal feedback from coaches and peers on their work. Learners are asked to revise their work until it represents their very best. In this way, we believe that kids' learning is far deeper than if you get a grade on an essay or assignment and then move on, perhaps never really understanding what you could have done to improve.
Having said this, if a families absolutely needs a transcript with grades for their child (e.g. if they are applying to a competitive private high school) our coaches have more than enough understanding of learner's performance to be able to provide this.
We can work with your family to create a transcript if needed. Our workshops, projects and academic progress via adaptive learning apps can be translated into courses that would be recognized by any traditional school. We help each learner maintain a cumulative portfolio containing their Prisma documentation, writing, projects, and coach feedback that families can include when applying for admission to selective schools and programs.
In order to participate in Prisma, learners need a strong internet connection and consistent access to a computer with a camera and a microphone - which can be built-in, like on a laptop. We also strongly recommend that learners have access to a quiet and private learning space that’s free from distraction.
If your family doesn’t have a computer that can be designated to your child’s primary use, please contact your local school district to see whether your child’s local school allows homeschoolers to check out laptops (one-to-one laptop programs), access the school library, etc. While we are investigating how to connect learners with technology resources, we are not presently able to include a technology bundle within Prisma’s pricing.
Learners who partner with Prisma should be able to independently navigate online resources such as live video, learning websites, Google Suite, etc. While we provide each new learner with the tools to navigate the platforms that everyone at Prisma uses, if your child does not yet know how to type or independently navigate online resources, we may ask your child to complete personalized digital literacy training before starting Prisma.
Prisma Learning coaches are caring, inspiring individuals who love kids and are deeply motivated to facilitate their growth. From a diverse range of backgrounds, Prisma coaches have been top-rated public and private school teachers, counselors, youth mentors, and more.
Common qualities that all of our Learning coaches possess are a love for learning, a passion for working with―and facilitating the holistic development of―kids, high social, emotional, and analytical intelligence, and a curious and courageous approach to life. All Learning coaches go through a rigorous selection process that includes multiple interviews, a written assignment, sample lesson plans, a video of them teaching/facilitating a class, extensive reference checking, and a thorough background check.
Prisma Learning coaches are:
Prisma Learning coaches are not:
Prisma Learning coaches engage in a robust on-boarding process that provides comprehensive training for implementing our model and facilitating high-quality, effective, and joy-filled experiences for learners. In addition to already having lots of experience and cultivated skills working with youth before they join Prisma, coaches are trained in academic methodologies such as the Socratic method and equipped with tools for navigating difficult conversations that they may need to successfully support learners within our Connected Learning Network.
Learning coaches are themselves coached and supported by our learning experience design team and senior leadership, who have experience mentoring and leading teachers as well as cultivating an exceptional work environment for teams. We work to ensure that each coach feels connected and supported with a wide network of resources from which to draw. Just like we curate the best, world-class curriculum for our learners, we also curate the best resources for our Learning coaches to continually grow their skills and effectiveness in communication, leadership, facilitation, and beyond. Additionally, all of our coaches are in part selected for their individual love of learning and growth mindset, so you’ll find they’re incredibly motivated to continually refine and enhance their craft!
In addition to scheduled virtual meetings with your family, Prisma provides coaches with office hours in their schedules to talk with parents more informally. You’ll have direct contact information for your child’s coach and are invited to reach out at any time. Our coaches view connecting with parents as a chance to collaborate in supporting each learner on the path to becoming their best self.
A wealth of encouragement, guidance, and well-matched challenges to grow them, of course! One of our coaches’ primary roles is to provide proactive, caring mentorship, accountability, motivation, and support to your child and other learners in their cohort. Whether connecting your child with a different learning resource to better match how they learn best, unpacking roadblocks in moments of strain when they feel mentally stuck, empowering them to shoot for a wild goal that is achievable with diligent effort, or just supporting them during a hard day, your child’s coach is here for learning and more and is eager to lend a hand where beneficial!
A positive, safe, mutually respectful learning environment is baked into the culture of Prisma at an elemental level. We intentionally build a strong base of trust and esteem within each cohort and across our Connected Learning Network so that every learner feels a sense of safety, belonging, and freedom to be themselves. Bullying and other detrimental means of interacting are not tolerated at Prisma. Because we heavily emphasize the creation of shared group norms through a collaboratively-built Cohort contract early in the year, learners are able to enjoy a great deal of freedom to collaborate together on projects, form interest-based clubs, etc. via online break-out groups. Any time learners are in a peer-only online environment, the cohort’s coach and members of our leadership team may check the tenor of the conversation to make sure that it’s both uplifting and, when relevant, productive. While Prisma doesn’t monitor external interactions (such as via social media) that learners chose to engage in outside of official Prisma channels, we hope that the learner agreements and culture that is intentionally cultivated encourages positive interactions beyond Prisma as well.
Learners who choose Prisma may be extroverted, introverted, funny, opinionated, pensive, gregarious, eager, reserved, a little bit rebellious, and everything in between! A bit of curiosity and adaptability goes a long way in enabling learners to flourish in our community, and basic digital skills for navigating online learning are important too (We can help with this). Our goal is to see every child who learns with Prisma brimming with self-esteem, the confidence to be their authentic selves, a strong sense of personal agency, and passion for at least one thing that deeply excites them. We also are committed to fostering a collaborative and community-oriented environment that encourages kids to thrive.
Our membership page outlines how to apply.
Yes! We have many siblings at Prisma. (We recommend that your children each have access to a computer rather than sharing one)
Pricing information can be found here.
Because we believe that your ability to receive a phenomenal education shouldn’t depend on your ability to pay, we offer financial support for families who cannot afford our standard pricing. Our goal is that at least 40% of learners in each cohort receive financial support, so please don't let your ability to pay stop you from applying.
You can request financial support within your child’s application.
Within your child’s application you will be asked to state your income along with what you can afford to pay for Prisma. Given this information and any other factors that you wish to share, we’ll evaluate your request for support. We have limited spots available at various pricing levels within our cohorts, so we recommend that you apply as soon as possible to increase the likelihood of support being available.
The level of involvement expected by parents will vary depending upon the needs of each child. Some children will be able to navigate Prisma nearly fully independently. Others will need a lot more support and aren’t yet ready for total learning autonomy. We expect parents—together with their child’s Learning coach—to periodically evaluate how much independence, autonomy, and support is right for their child. This is an evolving process with learners progressing toward greater independence and self-direction as they move through their Prisma journey. Having said this, we surveyed our families regarding how much time they spend each day supporting their Prisma learner(s) and the vast majority said 'less than one hour'.
In addition to supporting your child, you will be responsible for registering your child as a homeschooler (Some US states require this; others do not.) and meeting the homeschooling requirements in your state (This varies by US state and country. In some states/countries there are little to no requirements; in others there are more). If your child is accepted to Prisma we will support you in this process; however, the ultimate responsibility will lie with each family. If you are curious to learn more about homeschooling requirements in each US state, this website is very helpful.
Child safety is our utmost priority. We address safety in the following ways:
Technology: All of the platforms that power Prisma are password protected to ensure only learners, coaches, and parents can access them.
Content: We endeavor for our content to be objective and age-appropriate. Needless to say, discrimination, hate speech, and violence are strictly prohibited.
Peer interactions: A key focus at Prisma is developing a culture within our cohorts that is supportive, respectful, inclusive, and kind. Each cohort develops its own code of conduct, to which they must hold themselves accountable. Continued membership in the group will depend on learners meeting the requirements of the code of conduct. Learning Coaches are also responsible for ensuring that peer interactions are respectful, but we think that peers holding peers accountable can be even more powerful.
Learning coach: Our Learning coaches go through a rigorous selection process that includes multiple interviews, a written assignment, sample lesson plans, a video of them teaching/facilitating a class, extensive reference checking, and a thorough background check. Synchronous sessions between the learning coach and their cohort are recorded and are monitored for quality and training.
At home: Parents are responsible for ensuring that all learners are supervised by a trusted adult while they are working on Prisma at home to ensure their safety.
One of the most integral commitments within Prisma’s model is preparing learners for life ahead. Preparation for success in high school and college is part of this vision; however, we don’t stop there. To us, the scope of holistically successful outcomes extends to a love of learning, interpersonal relationships, financial literacy, global citizenry, stewardship of natural resources, and more. Learners will be prepared both for education beyond Prisma and for life beyond formal learning.
Yes, very much so. Although Prisma provides a comprehensive education solution suitable for families that do not want to be involved in curating their child's curriculum, there is plenty of room for parents to customize their child's learning experience. A number of our experienced homeschool parents, for example, have supplemented or replaced Prisma's independent learning routines with their own preferred curriculum resources. Prisma is an excellent solution for families that want a full-solution for their child's learning but it is equally a great option for parents who want to be very hands-on in their child's learning. Having said all this, we do expect all learners to opt into our workshops and (unless there is a very good reason) projects because these are integral to our themes-based, interdisciplinary approach
Our hope is that Prisma works exceptionally well for all learners, and we will continue to refine the design of Prisma so that it serves a continually broader and more diverse group of learners as we grow. If families choose to no longer partner with Prisma, we will provide them with a learner portfolio (documenting all key learning milestones and developed competencies), which we can help you to convert to a "transcript" that captures all the courses (i.e. badges) your child has done at Prisma. This serves to translate their work at Prisma to a conventional school’s equivalent requirements and would be yours to edit and add to as you see fit.
We have learners with a wide range of special needs thriving at Prisma - from ADHD and dyslexia to dysgraphia and processing disorders, among others. Given the flexible and customized nature of our program, we can be an especially good fit for some learners with disabilities, though we certainly don't claim to be the right fit all learner with special needs. For more information about the accommodations we are able to offer, please read our Inclusion Vision Statement. If you'd like to discuss your child's particular needs, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have experienced educators on staff who are eager to lead a cohort when needed!
Victoria and Alain, founders of Prisma, are serial entrepreneurs who’ve spent most of their careers in technology. Like so many parents, their worldview changed upon the birth of their three children. Suddenly the world’s challenges and the rapidly changing future felt very urgent and very personal. How, they wondered, could they prepare their young children to thrive in a tumultuous, ever-changing world where they can’t even begin to imagine the careers that will exist? They saw their young children’s passion for learning, joy for life, and supreme confidence and felt sure they’d be ok. But then they heard about older children who hate school, who struggle with anxiety, depression, or bullying, who hardly resemble their former happy selves. Might this one day be their kids? This was the beginning of their quest to completely reimagine school. Prisma is for Victoria and Alain's children and, hopefully, for yours too.
We are looking for gutsy, humble, can-do, driven team players to join us. Have a look at our hiring needs.
We have chosen to enjoy the flexibility of our digitally interconnected world by not having a physical location. Our fully distributed team is located all over the US and internationally. For record-keeping purposes, we are headquartered in California, USA.
Prisma is open to all families that are able to operate within US timezones. As we grow, we plan to offer our model in other timezones.