We have become aware in the past few days that people have been trying to contact us via e-mail over the summer. We thought it was a quiet summer. Noooooo, our website was down, so we did not receive those e-mails.

We apologize for lack of communication, and want to assure you that we are now back in communication.

Our Facebook page is up, this blog is up, and the website “contact us” link works now.

Thank you for your perseverance!

On “rigour” – from PlayMaker School

Here’s another school that “gets it” — they talk about the difference between drudgery and rigour.

I’m not sure that Reach would be a place with “no rules” — but I don’t think this place is either.  It’s just that the rules are very different from what you’d find in a typical public school.



The Reader’s Digest version of self-directed learning

Many of your reading this blog will be familiar with the writings of Peter Gray.  If you’re not, let us introduce you to a psychology professor, parent, and all-around great thinker WRT self-directed learning.  He recently published an article in Reader’s Digest about self-directed learning (and Sudbury Valley School in particular).

He writes….

“I’m convinced that Sudbury Valley works well because it provides the conditions that optimize children’s natural abilities to educate themselves. These include a) unlimited opportunity to play and explore, allowing them to discover and pursue their interests; b) access to caring and knowledgeable adults who are helpers, not judges; c) liberal age mixing among children and adolescents (age-mixed play is far more conducive to learning than is play among those who are all at the same level); and d) direct participation in a stable, moral, democratic community in which they acquire a sense of responsibility for others, not just for themselves. None of these conditions are present in standard schools.”
Read the entire article here: http://www.rd.com/advice/parenting/american-school-system-damaging-kids/2/#ixzz2qKCZDsxs



Preparation for “The Real World”

At our recent Holiday Info Night, we spent some time talking about preparation for “The Real World”.  We know this topic comes up frequently in different forms:

How will students fare if they go back to “regular school”?

What about college or university?  They have classes and test there….

In the working world, we sometimes have to do things we don’t like or want to do.  How will a childhood spent doing only what you want prepare a child for the world of work?

This entry from The Hudson Valley Sudbury School by Matthew Gioia might be of interest. Read the blog entry and watch the video that accompanies it.

So Many Hours…..

When I think back to my years in school, much of it is a blur.
I do remember the feeling of freedom and anticipation of the endless summer ahead when the school year was done. I didn’t hate school, it was just what one did.

But when I think of how much time was spent there, it feels like a huge waste of so many years of precious childhood.

Meredith Collins writes an amazing blog ‘Each One Thrives‘.

Each blogpost gets me thinking about some aspect of childhood and respecting the learning process of each individual.

Here’s one about that vast number of hours spent in school.

And one about the vitality and joy you feel when fully engaged in a pursuit you both love and find challenging.

This is one of my very favourite blogs.


Figuring Things Out

My daughter is obsessed with the Harry Potter series. We’ve read the books aloud, she’s listened to them all again as audio books, and we’re working our way through the movies as a family. At recess she plays Harry Potter with her friends. She is always Hermione. She has a wand and a timetable and very specific ideas about how it all should go. This extends to her Hermione Hallowe’en costume, which she’s been planning for months. She has a vision of what Hermione should look like based on what she has imagined from the books. She’s described this and drawn me sketches. Recently we went to the fabric store to pick out the right material for a travelling cloak, and she’s got me tracking down a pattern. On Hallowe’en night, she might have to explain who she is to some people, because she’s not going to look like the Hermione in the movies or use a store-bought costume. She will be her unique version.

One of the central features of Sudbury education is that students determine their own activities. There are no set subjects everyone must learn in a particular way. Neither do the adults organize optional classes for students to choose (or not), as happens in some democratic schools. Students have a blank canvas of time on which to create their own education using their interests, and the people and resources around them. Some students create their days organically as they go along. Others plan more structured activities, such as classes, trips or other events. These can look quite similar to their equivalents in more traditional schools but the difference is that the students initiate them and take on a major role in organizing them.

Many kids these days get opportunities to participate in all kinds of enriching programs, whether it is at school or outside of school. They learn to play musical instruments and go on field trips to museums and take circus classes and go to computer camp. What is rarer for these kids is the opportunity to organize something from scratch. This is such an important skill. When you want to do something, you are motivated to make it happen. It might not be easy, and it might not turn out exactly the way you were planning or the way other people expect it to be. But you learn so much along the way and in the end, it is yours.