If you haven’t heard of Growing Brilliant, likely it’s because they are based out of Northern California.
Their online school is available to any student nationwide!
Growing Brilliant has been around for 8 years
The founder of Growing Brilliant, Lisa Hansen, holds a doctoral degree in education. She started their first brick and mortar school back in 2013. The educational approach is based on over 20 years of testing and research— it is learning through guided play.
In late December 2020, we attended a Trial class. Back then, we were in the midst of nearly a year of the world being upended by Covid. I was homeschooling and was challenged to find any open spots for in-person learning.
Online learning provided a safe haven at that time. But I’ve seen such great results in the last 10 months— I plan to keep him enrolled part-time until the day he attends full-time in-person Pre-K.
Learning objectives that are so helpful
I have learned by observing my son’s class for 10 months. Before Growing Brilliant, I had thoroughly researched homeschooling methods and created a classroom and learning area in my home.
My understanding of learning objectives for this age group has greatly expanded. The following exercises are our favorites [for age 3-4]:
plastic sleeve to trace letters and numbers
learning math with beads and pipe cleaners
clapping to learn syllables
letter and number recognition
The virtual class will provide some comradery
Here are some pros to having your child join a live group class:
learning to raise hand
sharing and taking turns
sharing thoughts and ideas
I noticed that when my son transitioned to part-time in-person Pre-K, he had experience with greeting his teacher, raising his hand, taking turns, and sharing his thoughts and ideas with a group. I do believe online Preschool helped this!
Tips for success with Pre-K learning at home
Since we’ve been doing this a while, here are some tips to help you get the most out of online learning:
Have a desk area set up for your child. Make sure supplies are organized and laid out the night before.
Make sure your laptop is completely charged.
Be present and engaged (sit out of view). Or have an adult or caregiver present to assist. Your child will need help with the hands-on project.
Have an alphabet card deck on the desk. Have a clean white board, pen, and eraser handy. Have a small musical instrument for your child to use when singing along.
Log-in about 5 minutes early. This will ensure you are not late.
Have a snack and drink set up for when class starts. Inevitably, your child will complain and be hungry at the exact time class starts.
Create a classroom setting in a small way. Post the alphabet, numbers, and a map on surrounding walls. If you don’t have wall space, use foam core boards. You can glue or velcro letters, numbers, year, months, days of the week, and whatever other information that is key for learning. You can DIY or get them easily on Amazon.
Have a bookcase near your child’s desk to encourage a learning environment like a classroom.
Keep the area organized with baskets and storage cubes since you will have a lot of supplies!
Your child will get used to Zoom
Online Preschool is definitely something to get used to. For adults, we are accustomed to Zoom meetings and a virtual world. But for a toddler, it can be really weird and confusing!
A few times in the beginning, my son (who was 3 at the time) was unable to focus for the whole 45 minutes. To deal with this— just keep going— keep engaged with watching and singing along. It helps set an example that for this 45-minute stretch of time we give the teacher and class our full attention.
Growing Brilliant General Information
Classes are 45 minutes long and taught live on Zoom
Classes meet 2, 3, or 5 days per week
Classes start as early as 6:30 am, and go as late as 4:00 pm (there are many options)
Growing Brilliant Pricing
Starting at $34 per week
Registration fee $35 (one-time fee)
Enrichment: $10 per additional class
Programs by Age
Age 2-3, Early Explorers
Age 3-4, Little Learners
Age 4-5, Kindergarten Readiness
Age 5-6, Kindergarten Club
Age 3-6, Enrichment Classes
Tip: Enrichment classes are new. They are meant to supplement foundational classes. These additional classes will offer your child even more variety in daily learning activities— much like they would be experiencing in a traditional preschool classroom.
This means your child has the option of up to 90 minutes of instruction time per day.
You can withdraw from the program anytime. Or pause enrollment by using vacation days.
You can connect to live classes from anywhere you have an internet connection.
What to Expect during a Growing Brilliant class
Lesson plans and supply list emailed to you the night before each class
Same teacher and classmates each time
Fun monthly topics and daily word/letter/site word
Reliable and repeating structure for class (ie— introductions, the opening song, day and date recognition, letter for the day, site word, sign language, identifying a letter, writing letters, songs, movement, interactive story, a project with instructions, group sharing, closing song.)
Recurring delivery of a curriculum box with supplies needed to complete projects
Tons of art projects: including sculpting, learning to use scissors, cut and paste collages, watercolor, and tempera projects
An interactive story read to the class each day
Included in tuition, a box is shipped to you on a recurring schedule filled to the brim with supplies needed to participate in class.
Are there any negatives to Growing Brilliant?
In my opinion, online Preschool will never be a replacement for in-person learning.
With all the experiences that come from being away from the parent, establishing independence, following directions, having good behavior in a group, working side-by-side with other children, and socializing with a variety of classmates.
But we’re in a weird time. Not only is it hard to find quality Pre-K, it is expensive. Add to that— kids age 5 and under are not eligible for the Covid vaccine yet. Parents have a myriad of reasons to try an alternative option— and this is a good one!
If I had to say Growing Brilliant has any room for improvement— I wish we had more face time with my son’s teacher. It would be nice if there was an occasional Zoom meeting (say, every 3 months) to meet with the teacher and discuss goals, strengths, and challenges.
I would say— use Growing Brilliant as a tool in your arsenal of learning for your child. It should just be one thing, of many, that you are doing!
Try a Class for Free!
Are you interested? Are you an educator and do you have thoughts about online Preschool? I hope my experience has motivated you to find out more. Sign up for a Trial class. See what you think!
Maureen Lowe is a Bay Area native that relocated to the high desert mountains of Southwest Reno with her family in 2017. Mama to her active pup and toddler boy, Maureen is a textile designer and graduate of CCA San Francisco. With a lifelong love of nature and the arts, Maureen has made it a mission to explore Reno’s scenic trails and cultural offerings to find kid and dog-friendly outings that work in all seasons.