Meet Malcolm St. Pierre, a Grade 4 Facilitated Math student at Virtual Elementary School and this month’s addition to the Student Spotlight Series!
It came as no surprise to us at VES to learn that a passionate and engaged student like Malcolm has a whole host of extracurricular activities going on at home. Malcolm enjoys making art, reading comics, bird watching, chatting about his favourite movies, and creating stop motion Lego animation. In order to facilitate Malcolm’s love of learning, his parents Thomas and Kelly St. Pierre signed him up for creative art classes at a local studio. During studio time, he’s able to utilize different art mediums and gain an understanding of art history through hands-on experiences.
Ever the inquisitive learner, Malcolm is fortunate enough to be growing up on a rural hobby farm in Ontario that affords him all kinds of opportunities for exploring nature. With plenty of space to run around, Malcolm spends lots of time playing with his farm animals, which include two horses, ten chickens, four ducks, five cats, and a dog. The allure of taking school outside on a sunny day in such a beautiful setting is just one of the perks that Malcolm’s parents have found on their homeschooling journey:
“We truly appreciate the flexible, asynchronous learning model that VES offers that has allowed us to set the rhythm to our days and permit spontaneous learning. The biggest impact of this is that it allows Malcolm to honour his own personal learning timeline. Additionally, it teaches the responsibilities and accountability that come with this independence.”
After making the decision to homeschool Malcolm at a young age, Thomas and Kelly wanted to make sure that they had access to extra support and feedback during the transition:
“It was important to get help when we needed help and, in this case, it meant reaching out to an outside resource. To our surprise, VES had so much more to offer than just classes with great teachers.”
According to Malcolm’s parents, Malcolm learns best when he is able to pace himself, pause and slow down as needed, and speed up when he’s comfortable with a topic. This natural approach to education has allowed Malcolm to stay motivated and challenged when he’s focused on his school work, but also relax and enjoy his downtime between lessons. An asynchronous schedule has also given Malcolm lots of opportunities to join in on the VES student community activities:
“As a sociable child, Malcolm has thrived with feeling that he is a part of a community even from a distance.”
Having made the switch from traditional classrooms to online learning, Thomas and Kelly have come to appreciate the importance of embracing and developing an education routine that works for their child:
“Probably the hardest thing we encountered was just trying not to push our child and adjusting our expectations as needed. Support, guide, encourage, and show interest in what they are learning. The VES teachers and staff are wonderfully attentive, friendly, and available. They truly are there to see your child succeed.”
Having just finished up his math course recently, Malcolm is now looking forward to a summer of campfires and s’mores during outdoor movie nights with his family and friends. He also plans to spend some time swimming, fishing, and planting a big vegetable garden in his backyard. We’re sure that he’ll also be squeezing in some cuddles with all of his farm animal friends too. We wish him the happiest, sunniest summer and can’t wait to see him at the next VES community event!