A program that gives learners the power to be their best

Prisma reimagines school, providing kids the flexibility to pursue their interests alongside a talented coach and a supportive community of peers

At a glance

  • Eligibility: 4th-10th graders (approx. age 9-18)
  • Format: Comprehensive, global virtual school (Aug - Jun)
  • Philosophy: Learner-centric, self-paced, outcomes-driven, interdisciplinary and hands-on
  • Academics: Math, science, reading and writing targeting 150%+ learner growth
  • Geography: Open to anyone who can operate in US time zones
  • Pod size: 80-90 learners per pod; 15-30 learners per coach
  • Teacher: Facilitated by expert Learning coaches who mentor, support and guide
  • Coach ratio: 15-30 learners per coach; 4 coaches per pod
  • Calendar: Six 6-week learning cycles—organized by themes—plus a service learning cycle
  • Parents: Minimal time commitment. Most families spend less than one hour/day supporting their child

Our promise to Prisma learners

A Curriculum that brings joy and relevance back to learning

Our interdisciplinary, theme-based curriculum consists of three main components:

  • Live virtual workshops
    Socratic discussions, team challenges and writing workshops to develop communication, critical thinking and collaboration skills
  • Projects
    Hands-on, interdisciplinary projects that explore real-world issues and develop research, creativity and organizational skills
  • Individualized learning routines
    Develop core academic skills via a custom plan tailored to each child’s interests, ability level and speed of learning

We also provide a live daily standup where kids develop their social-emotional skills and a regular speaker series tied to our real-world themes.

Facilitated by dynamic, expert learning coaches

Ask our learners what they love most about Prisma and there’s a good chance they’ll say “Prisma coaches”! We handpick our coaches for their unique ability to bring out the very best in kids. Unlike traditional school where teachers are expected to wear so many hats—curriculum developer, assessor, lecturer, administrator, disciplinarian and social worker—we free our coaches up to become world-class at three things: forming strong, motivating relationships with their learners, providing rich verbal and written feedback and delivering super engaging live workshops.

Unlike the typical model where kids start over with a new teacher every year, at Prisma kids stay with the same set of four coaches (their ‘cohort’ coaches) for multiple years, and they are assigned a mentor coach that they meet with weekly.

Assessment designed for the needs of the child, not the school district

Low-stress, holistic assessment
We take assessment very seriously at Prisma because it helps us to understand if we are delivering on our promises to your child. But we do it in a way that is low-stress for kids, holistic (i.e. that doesn’t only look at academic progress) and focused on capabilities not retention of facts. Assessment at Prisma is driven by two goals: to ensure learners 1) do their best work and 2) develop the academic and life skills they’ll need to succeed in the future.
Focus is on
kids achieving
their best
At Prisma we do not use grades, which research has shown reduces intrinsic motivation and encourages kids to do ‘just enough.’ We use detailed feedback (e.g. instead of getting a grade on a short story, a learner will get in-depth peer and coach feedback, revise and resubmit); Expo days, where kids present their work to the entire community; badges, which kids earn for demonstrating mastery; and cohort culture to encourage kids to maximize their potential.
Guided by our proprietary
We’ve developed a proprietary framework—our Learning Prism—to capture the diverse range of skills we believe kids will need to thrive in their futures, and we assess them accordingly via a third-party academic assessment, a social-emotional assessment and our own proprietary 21st century skills assessment.

A strong, supportive community with no room for cliques

Our learners have formed strong friendships, a robust culture and a deep sense of shared identity (They’ve even coined their own term to describe themselves: 'Prismarians'). While adults might find the idea of virtual friendships to be odd, we’ve found that it’s second nature for our learners. In addition to the multiple opportunities that kids have to engage with one another via our core curriculum (e.g. in daily coach-led standups, workshops and shared projects), kids also get together via our learner-led clubs, our virtual learner community and in their own free time.

Learning beyond ABCs and 123s

We’re strong advocates of kids pursuing arts, music, sports, theatre, community service and other passions, and we build this into our program in a variety of ways. Our Prisma projects provide space for kids to develop their creative talents, be they music, art, or design. Our student-led clubs cover a range of activities, from gaming and photography to entrepreneurship and baking. Our individualized learning routines allow kids to choose electives, from learning a foreign language to writing a book to achieving a fitness goal. In December, we run a service learning cycle dedicated to understanding and contributing to important causes. Finally, Prisma kids are encouraged to pursue two extra-curricular badges each year, a Mastery Badge—where kids pick something they want to ‘master’ (be it playing guitar, fixing broken electronics or perfecting their golf swing) and practice it for at least 100 hours, documenting their progress along the way—and a Community Badge*—where kids engage in an activity in their community along with other local kids (be it a team sport, a theatre production or girl scouts). *Not required currently due to COVID.

A day in the life with Prisma

Every child and family is different and has unique routines, schedules and priorities. Our daily schedule allows ample opportunities for learners to interact with and socialize with their peers, while maintaining flexibility and the ability to customize their day to best fit their interests, needs and learning style.

Please note: suggested schedules vary by time zone.

  • 10:00am Standup
  • Prisma learners start each day with a late-morning standup meeting to check in, connect and bond with their cohort and Learning coach. Standups focus on community building, social-emotional learning and having fun!
  • 10:30am–12:00pm Independent learning routines
  • Every morning, Monday through Thursday, learners work on their customized learning plans, which include a mix of math, english language arts and coding apps; pleasure reading and book club; and electives such as foreign languages, fitness and the arts.
  • 12:00pm–1:00pm Lunch
  • Learners are encouraged to get offline for an hour to eat, move about, connect with friends and relax.
  • 1:00pm–2:00pm Live workshops
  • Kids get together with a specialist coach for an engaging, thought-provoking, collaborative workshop. Each day, Monday-Thursday, features a different workshop: Problem solving, Ethical decision-making, Strategy Simulation and Writing Workshop.
  • 3:00pm–3:30pm Projects
  • Learners work on their theme-based projects—either individually or in groups—and are guided through the various phases of developing their project: research, experimentation, creation and presentation.
  • Fridays
  • Fridays with Prisma are flexible days for learners to connect with other members of their cohort via social clubs; participate in ThinkTank and other cohort-wide events; or spend time exploring academic, social or personal passions.
  • Coach|Learner 1-on-1s
  • Learners meet weekly with their mentor-coach to set goals, talk through their progress and just generally catch-up.
  • Kickoff & Community week
  • Aug 22 - 26, 2022
  • Fall
  • Aug 29 - Nov 18, 2022
  • Winter
  • Dec 1 Mar 13, 2023
  • Spring
  • Mar 28 Jun 8, 2023

A year at Prisma

During September through June, Prisma learners experience three Sessions (Fall, Winter and Spring), with breaks to recharge in between. Each session is divided into two 5-week cycles centered around a real-world theme. The sixth week of each cycle is dedicated to parent-coach-learner exchanges, outside speakers related to the theme and independent learning routines. In December, we run our service learning cycle where kids learn about and contribute to local, national and global issues.

Technology embedded from the ground up to make learning better

We’re strong believers in the power of technology to create a more customized, adaptable and seamless educational experience and in the importance of kids understanding and being comfortable with technology. Many parents tell us that after a few months at Prisma their child can navigate, research and troubleshoot online better than they can! We use technology in two ways: we have our own suite of Prisma tools, which will grow over time, and we integrate best-in-class third-party solutions—be they adaptive learning apps, online simulations or time-management tools.

Parents at Prisma

Parents at Prisma get the best of both worlds: the chance to be more in touch with and (if they choose) involved with their child’s learning without having to take on the day-to-day responsibility of teaching and guiding their child. The majority of our families report spending less than one hour a day supporting their Prisma learner. And, unlike public school where ‘parent involvement’ is often code for fundraising or volunteering, at Prisma it means seeing what your child is working on at regular Expo days, receiving in-depth feedback from your child’s coach via detailed weekly progress emails and our once-per-cycle Parent-Coach-Learner exchanges, getting daily insight into your child's learning by way of our learner dashboard, providing us with feedback that impacts how we design our program, overhearing a great discussion during one of our synchronous workshops, and receiving regular updates and anecdotes and connecting with other families via our parent community.

Frequently asked questions

How flexible is Prisma with regard to scheduling?

Aside from our live workshops (which take up 90 minutes on 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 to 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.

How does Prisma support learners with special needs?

We have learners with a wide range of special needs thriving at Prisma, though we certainly don't claim to be the right fit for all learners with special needs. Our curriculum allows learners to go at their own pace, make choices about how to demonstrate their learning, and connect learning to their interests. Some learners with special needs feel they need fewer supports at Prisma than in a traditional environment due to this flexibility.

Our learning coaches are experienced educators trained in supporting learners of all abilities. They will work with your family to understand what kinds of accommodations have worked and not worked for your learner in the past, any challenges they may face interacting with our curriculum, and what lights them up as a learner. They will collaborate with you to customize the Prisma experience to best suit your learner's needs. We also have a counselor available to work with learners who may need additional support.

Many families of learners with special needs report the Prisma peer community to be the most accepting of any learning environment they've tried. Prisma parents of learners with special needs also connect with each other to share resources, connect, or attend Prisma guest speaker events in topics like executive functioning.

What does a typical day look like?

Below is a sample of a typical learner's schedule: 

  • 10-10:30 AM: Standup (Daily cohort bonding, announcements, and a meaningful day-starting activity like learning to organize your workspace, taking a group picture for the Yearbook, or writing thank you notes to an expert guest visitor from last week)
  • 10:30-11: Optional Support Squads (Time to check in with your learning coach, work with peers on a group project, or sign off to begin independent work!)
  • 11-11:15: Break
  • 11:15 AM-12:15 PM: Workshop (Depending on the day of the week, this might be Project Workshop, Literacy Lab, or Collaborative Problem Solving. Coaches facilitate engaging, interactive workshops that connect to the current curriculum theme and build academic & real-world skills.)
  • 12:15-2 PM: Independent Work Time (Learners have gaps in their days to complete independent tasks in math, reading, writing, and their theme projects. Tasks are managed through a custom Prisma start page, task lists, and chat platform with learning coaches. This time is flexible, and learners are encouraged to build the schedule that works for them and allows them to get outside, participate in extracurricular activities, and pursue their passions!)
  • 2-2:45 PM: Math Lab (Math schedules & workshop lengths differ by your learner's math level. Our math workshops are fun—yes, really!—and ask kids to solve interesting, real-world problems in groups, while also making sure they understand the math missions they are working through independently.)
  • 3-5 PM: Independent Work Time, Coach-Led Enrichments, or Free Time (Depending on how learners choose to organize their time, and if they choose to sign up for extracurriculars like coach-led Enrichments in Songwriting, Cooking, and more!)

Our learners live all over the world in time zones UTC-11 to UTC+2 (if we're not in your time zone yet, you can join our waitlist here), so exact times of workshops above may not match your learner's experience when they join. We work with families to place them in the cohort that's best for them, considering time zone and also their academic level, personality, learning needs, and interests.

What is Prisma's annual calendar?

Our school year is organized into 12-week sessions (Fall, Winter, and Spring).

High schoolers do one theme every 12 weeks, and middle schoolers (grades 4-8) do one theme every 6 weeks. At the end of each 12-week session, parents, coaches, and learners meet for conferences to discuss learner progress & set goals.

Orientation begins in the last week of August each Fall, and the school year runs until early June. Learners get a 2-week Winter Break in December and a 1-week Spring Break in late March or early April each year, as well as no school on all USA federally-recognized holidays.

The official 23-24 calendar will be available on our website by mid-Spring 2023.

What countries does Prisma operate in?

A key part of Prisma’s mission is to create a global network of young people who learn and grow together in mutually enriching community. As such, we are expanding the time zones in which we operate as quickly as possible. For now, Prisma learners need to be fluent in English, and our program is available in all geographies aside from UTC+4 to UTC+8 (i.e. We are not yet able to offer our program in countries with time zones like India, Russia or China). 

Want Prisma in your time zone? Join our waitlist by filling out this form.

How much screen time is required?

We believe that there are very valuable ways for kids to use screens (e.g. for research, learning about topics of interest and collaborating with kids from other places) and less valuable ways for kids to use screens. We (and a body of academic research) disagree with the idea that screen time is inherently bad.

Prisma learners use screens to participate in engaging live workshops with their cohort (an average of 1.5 hours per day), and they use screens for some aspects of their projects (e.g. to write responses and read materials, an average of 2 hours per day). We do believe there is great value to off-screen, hands-on learning, and we thus include as many off-screen options into our curriculum as possible. For example, this year's themes included projects where learners could visit a historical landmark in their area, conduct a hands-on science experiment, and choreograph & film a dance performance.

How will my child know what to do each day?

At the beginning of each theme, families & learners are given a detailed guide to all of the academic work for the cycle. Tasks are managed through a custom Prisma start page, task lists, and chat platform with learning coaches. When your learner signs on for the day, they will see their upcoming due dates and be able to access all of their work from their start page. When your child finishes a task, they check it off their task list and submit it to their mentor coach for feedback. Support and reminders for upcoming tasks are given during live workshops, and coaches also send parents regular updates on their learner's progress.

It is our goal that all Prisma learners develop the Initiative & Follow Through to manage this process independently. However, especially when new to Prisma, some learners need more parent support in getting started on tasks each day and planning work time to comfortably meet deadlines. Our mentor coaches are experts in gradually building task management skills and will partner with you in this process! 

What socialization & extracurricular opportunities are there?

When we surveyed new learners this year, 86% said that they had made friends at Prisma after just 6 weeks. 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 many popular learner-led Clubs and coach-led Enrichments, from Prisma Press to Dungeons & Dragons to Art to Cooking, as well as a highly engaged online learner forum. We also try to incorporate lots of one-off celebrations & extra events, from the annual Talent Show to the Prisma 100th Day Party to monthly Family Game Nights.

Many Prisma families also choose to organize in-person regional meetups, mini microschool-style learning hubs, and even trips. We love this and are happy to support and help publicize!

Does Prisma provide a transcript?

Yes! Prisma middle schoolers get an updated transcript every twelve weeks when they meet for conferences with their parents and coach. Their transcript contains all the academic badges they've earned, which are understandable by other schools as a list of skills & topics they've covered and their mastery of each. It also contains coach narrative assessments for each cycle, which are an amazing way to look back on your learner's progress and development as an individual.

Prisma high schoolers get a more traditional-looking transcript palatable to college admissions officers with their GPA, grades for each theme, and list of electives and extracurriculars they've completed. You'll be able to see your learner's updated transcript at the end of each theme.

What equipment and materials do kids need to enroll?

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. 

What computer and technology skills are needed to successfully learn at Prisma?

Learners 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.

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