Program Overview

Dida Academy is a self-directed learning center. At Dida, students aged 11-18 explore their interests, direct their own learning, and turn ideas into reality. In contrast to conventional schools, where students are extrinsically motivated by tests and grades, Dida fosters deep and meaningful learning by giving students agency over what and how they learn. Our facilitators support students through mentorship, project planning, workshops, and field trips. We operate 5 days a week from 9am to 2:45pm in alignment with the public school calendar at our dynamic learning space in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Learn more about the specifics of our program for students aged 11-18.

Program Features

Community & Mentor Conversations

At the heart of our program are the supportive relationships between student peers and facilitators. On a daily basis, students and facilitators meet as a group to set learning intentions and collectively shape the Dida experience. Students also have regular check-ins with mentors to navigate their learning journey and discuss meaningful opportunities.

Project Portfolios & Exhibition

Students have the opportunity to work on passion projects to apply their interests, build project management skills, and develop a personal portfolio to prepare for college or career. Facilitators coach students through the project planning process to help them set goals and learn personal accountability. At the end of the year, students have an opportunity to share their project with the Dida community to build public speaking skills and celebrate their creations.

Field Trips & Workshops

Excursions and workshops are planned weekly based on student interests. On outings around NYC, we explore cultural sites, museums, parks, and more to bring the interests of our students to life while exposing them to new ideas and opportunities. On afternoons at Dida, we host experiential workshops to build collaborative skills such as acting, debate, and creative storytelling.

Weekly Schedule

Dida Academy is in session Monday-Friday from 9am-2:45pm. On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, we are on site at our location in Park Slope, Brooklyn (823 President Street). We take advantage of our location within New York City for off site learning explorations on Wednesdays.

Mondays: on site at Dida

Tuesdays: on site at Dida

Wednesdays: off site learning (field trips and community partnerships)

Thursdays: on site at Dida

Friday: on site at Dida

Daily Schedule

Schedule for On Site Days:

9:00-9:30: Arrive and settle in

9:30-10:30: Power Hour (intentional, focused learning session)

10:30-10:45: Community meeting

10:45-12:00: Project and group activities, mentor conversations

12:00-1:00: Lunch

1:00-2:00: Workshop

2:00-2:30: Reflection

2:30-2:45: Clean up

2:45: End of day

Schedule for Off Site days (Wed)

Off site days run from 9am-2:45pm. The daily schedule varies based on activity and trip location.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is Dida Academy a private school?

No, Dida Academy is not a private school. Dida is a learning center for teens. Dida students are registered homeschoolers who use homeschooling laws to enable freedom and flexibility of education.

2. Who is this for?

Dida is designed for students who desire an alternative to traditional school. Many students in a traditional school setting are not free to explore their interests, are not challenged enough, or find the rigid structure to be counter-productive to their education. We invite all students who are not thriving in their current school to reach out and learn if Dida might be a good alternative for you.

3. Can Dida students get into competitive colleges?

Absolutely, in fact Dida students who take full advantage of the resources and advising with opportunities and projects are able to differentiate themselves from traditional school students with engaging portfolios and meaningful experiences.

4. Do students have to take the SAT/ACT?

Many colleges do require the SAT/ACT. With advising and tutorials from facilitators, students who are college-bound are supported with SAT/ACT preparation at Dida Academy.

5. Does Dida give any assessments or tests?

We believe in using measurement tools to help students develop accountability for their learning goals and improve, not as a form of competition or judgement. Assessments are sometimes given as part of optional classes and are used as a tool. We do not give tests in the traditional sense.

6. What about the Regents and other standardized tests?

New York State Regents are not required for Dida students. However, students in certain grades are requried to pass an annual assessment for the homeschooling office. An assessment is required every other year for grades 4-8. An assessment is required every year for grades 9-12. Parents are given a choice in which assessment to use. We usually recommend the California Achievement Test(CAT) for this purpose.

7. How does Dida measure progress if test scores do not matter?

Dida comes from the word Auto-Didact, or self learner. Our quarterly reports include information about academics, projects, character, and self-directedness through the Self-Directed Readiness Scale. Students apply what they learn through projects that they exhibit at end of year.

8. What about attendance?

Attendance is always optional and based on consent. It is ultimately up to the student to be ready to learn and engage in their learning environment.

9. What if my student isn't self-directed?

Every student comes to Dida on a different level. We work with students who have traditional education backgrounds as well as students who have been practicing Self-Directed Education for years. At Dida, students are able to grow their natural learning habits. We provide the resources and guidance for them to learn based on their individual interests.

10. What is the role of facilitators?

The role of the Dida facilitator is to mentor, support, and teach. Dida facilitators are chosen for their ability to form meaningful connections with students, and support the student in their self-directed learning. The day-to-day interactions between students and facilitators provide mentorship and support for students to grow and develop.

11. Does Dida accept students with special needs?

While we accept students with diverse needs and abilitites, we are not able to support students that require heavy supervision or constant monitoring. Please contact us to discuss your unique child's needs. We communicate consistently with parents and students to create systems, tools, approaches to make Dida the learning environment work for them.

12. What is required to transition out of current public/private school?

  1. Submit Letter of Intent to homeschool to Office of Home Schooling
  2. Submit IHIP (Individualized Home Instruction Plan)
  3. Quarterly Reports (4 per year required)
  4. Annual assessment (required every other year for grades 4-8; annually for grades 9-12)

Dida helps parents prepare all required materials for submission to the NYC Office of Home Schooling.