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The NEW thread about Sudbury schools - Page 2

post #21 of 69
My son's democratic free school would let a parent stay all day if that's what they wanted to do...in fact, I think some people do just that. I get the impression that I'm out of the ordinary in not being there during school at all--I'm single and I work full time--most other families with younger kids seem to have someone there a lot. I'm sure schools differ a lot from one another, though...things change a lot over time just in this one school.
post #22 of 69
zeldabee we have a lot in common. :
post #23 of 69
I don't really know the structure of your democratic schools, zeldabee and thisiswhatwedo, or, really, the structure of the Sudbury Valley School; I only know the structure of the school my own children attend. I searched online for a little while to see if I could find any differences between Sudbury schools and other democratic schools, and while I didn't find anything specific (I imagine each and every school finds its own path), I did find a really great article from the Alpine Valley School in Denver that clarified for me why a new parent might not be allowed to stay with their child all day. The essay is actually the middle part of a three part article-response-counter response. Here is a link: http://www.freecolorado.com/1999/03/welshon.html

The school my children attend differs in several small ways from Alpine Valley, and I've heard from people who are familiar with Sudbury Valley that it also differs. But, the fundamental idea that adults often treat children differently than other adults is something that *is* acknowledged at our school. And School Meeting (a group consisting of students and staff) has created boundaries and parameters to protect that. That is why I recommended that jjsmommy02038 check with staff, both to see if it would be possible to stay with him and to figure out other ways to help her ds. Staff can bring up these issues with School Meeting if necessary. Here are the relevant portions of the article I linked above:

Quote:
Because adults are accustomed to entering the world of children at will, with little or no regard for the privacy of the children being observed, all adult outsiders at Sudbury Schools are constrained by School Meeting regulations to keep silent until spoken to.

If the adult visitors would use the common decency they use when they visit a friend's house of worship, university, home, or business, these constraints would be unnecessary. But they do not. Most adults believe it is their right to approach students in schools and interrupt them, question them, probe them, and, in the end, invade their privacy. We take principle very seriously. When we say that students are free to engage in their own activities, so long as they are peaceful, we mean it. The fact is that many adults do not behave properly around children. Until more adults learn to treat children with respect, Alpine Valley School will request that visiting adults remain like flies on the wall, to be seen and not heard.
This isn't to scare anyone off, it is to protect the kids from people who intrude. (a disclaimer: I am in no way implying that anyone here would in fact do this. I am simply pointing out the reasoning behind the rule) And our school is in the process of developing ways that parents can volunteer that mesh with the values School Meeting holds dear. You actually can spend the day at our school, but only after approval (that can be revoked at any time by School Meeting). This isn't something that the kids take lightly.

cloudspinning
post #24 of 69
Well, I am back. Thanks for the responses. My son is continuing to struggle at public school and after his Pdoc appointment today I am ready to get back in touch with the SVS and see what can be done. Cloudspinning, I truly understand that process and agree. His Dr thought by just going with son for an hour or so once and a while to get him used to the idea would help. If he decides to go there and he feels he needs me I would bring my own stuff to do and keep out of the way until my son checked in with me. I don't think it would take long for the adjustment-once he met friends he wouldn't want anything to do with me. I will let you know what the school says.
post #25 of 69
I'm not sure if any of you that are interested in Sudbury live in or near Olympia, WA. If you do and want some great information straight from former students then you should come to an Informational Gathering this Sunday, Jan. 18 hosted by Rising Tide School, Olympia's Sudbury School. There will be 4 young people that either attended a Sudbury school or spent time at one as an intern for a few months.

I am one of the founders of Rising Tide School. We are opening in fall of 09. We will be available for people ages 4-19. We are currently still working on our Federal non-profit status. We will be an independant community supported school. We are committed to being available to anyone who wants an empowered education for their child reguardless of financial situation.

I am open to any questions or comments.

You can check us out at our website. http://wwwrisingtideschool.org
post #26 of 69
"Because adults are accustomed to entering the world of children at will, with little or no regard for the privacy of the children being observed, all adult outsiders at Sudbury Schools are constrained by School Meeting regulations to keep silent until spoken to.
If the adult visitors would use the common decency they use when they visit a friend's house of worship, university, home, or business, these constraints would be unnecessary. But they do not. Most adults believe it is their right to approach students in schools and interrupt them, question them, probe them, and, in the end, invade their privacy. We take principle very seriously. When we say that students are free to engage in their own activities, so long as they are peaceful, we mean it. The fact is that many adults do not behave properly around children. Until more adults learn to treat children with respect, Alpine Valley School will request that visiting adults remain like flies on the wall, to be seen and not heard."


I totally disagree with this; a school that is that suspicious about the intentions of adults really raises red flags for me (after all that policy was written by adults correct? and why are they above suspicion, because they have somehow overcome the dominating behavior themselves???). our school asks for the same good behavior regardless of age and I think the idea above is rather dogmatic and they need to relax...
I am being crabby but there is a serious lack of trust in the principles of that school that reflects very seriously the lack of trust our public schools have for children. I hate how controlled public schools are about how and when adults can be present for our children's education, why would a free school want to follow that same idea!
post #27 of 69
Just adding my voice as someone who is interested in this. Our little one is only two, so we have some time yet to figure this out.

If anyone has insight into the Diablo Valley School in Concord, CA specifically, I would LOVE to hear it!
post #28 of 69
Snuzzmom, I can tell you that Diablo Valley School is thriving right now, but the best way to see if it is a fit for you is to visit and talk with folks there.

It is smart that you are thinking about all this while your little one is still little. The kids who have been at Diablo Valley School from an early age are quite impressive -- articulate, thoughtful, able to accomplish what they set out to. I say this only because most of the "Sudbury" schools are still fairly young (except of course Sudbury Valley which has 40+ years) and just starting to produce graduates who have been there for all or most of their schooling. I believe that those who persist are seeing really good results.

-- Freetime
(parent of graduate and still involved)
post #29 of 69
Thank you, FreeTime! We did visit once and liked it-- we'll go again when DS is a little older.

CA public schools are in dire straits right now and there's no positive end in sight. It's scary.
post #30 of 69
Hey Mamas (and others!).

I'm curious - what exactly is the role of the staff at Sudbury, particularly at the Sudbury Valley School? As a childcare provider, I would love to learn more about how the philosophy changes the role of the staff member from "teacher" or "dictator" into... something else. I'm thoroughly invested in a child-led approach, and try to make it the guiding influence in my work. I'm interested in how this handles especially in a "school"-ish environment with lots of kids.

So here's a spewing of curiosities that come to mind for Sudbury parents or Staff:

Do you feel that your children are welcome to bond with staff and vice versa? Do you feel that they're inspired at all by the staff and vice versa? Do your children ever tend to take comfort/interest in the same one or two staff members?

What is the staff doing throughout their day? Does it vary much from person to person? Are they engaging in many child-led activities? Are they doing any personal activities throughout the day (reading, handcraft, etc)? Secretarial or management duties? Cleaning up?

Can you give me an idea of any guidance that your child(ren) may have received from staff in his/her individual activities? Are they active in helping children explore their own interests at the child's request?

...I guess I'm just wondering how much of the work of Sudbury staff is directly engaging with the children, and when they're not engaging directly, what are they doing?

Thanks!
post #31 of 69
We do not have our (unborn) kid at a sudbury model school yet, but I read a lot about them when I was a miserably unhappy high school student. I would be interested to see how they are in action, but I guess that is a few years down the road for us. I do think this article: http://www.sudval.org/05_underlyingideas.html#03 speaks to the "what do teachers do" idea a little bit.
post #32 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by CourtBChase View Post
We do not have our (unborn) kid at a sudbury model school yet, but I read a lot about them when I was a miserably unhappy high school student. I would be interested to see how they are in action, but I guess that is a few years down the road for us. I do think this article: http://www.sudval.org/05_underlyingideas.html#03 speaks to the "what do teachers do" idea a little bit.
Thanks for the link, CourtBChase. I, too, was a miserably unhappy high school student and would have LOVED to know about something like Sudbury. I was so frustrated and ready to quit "regular" school at 16 but was guilted by my family (I will never again underestimate the fearsome power of a distressed call from a grandmother) into staying.

To this day I know it was a mistake.
post #33 of 69
My son just finished his third week (including 1 visitor week) at Rising Tide Sudbury school in Olympia. He is 5 years old and was unhappy in his structured Pre-K program last year and very resistant to adult authority. I was dreading the start of Kindergarten for him, because I could tell that no matter how wonderful the teacher was, he would hate it because someone was telling him what he should do.

He has been happier the last 3 weeks than I can remember him being in a long while. He loves school, and wishes he could go there every day. That being said, it is not without a lot of struggles for us as parents. There are huge issues we have deal with emotionally to "let go" and give our son the kind of freedom he has at school. For one thing, I have huge issues around kids and media exposure, and my single biggest fear was that my son would spend a large amount of his time playing video games and that the content of the video games would be violent. By the end of his visitor week, my fear was totally being lived out. My DS spends much of his time (at least according to him) playing Halo. I totally freaked out when I found out that not only could media with violent content (rated M) come into the school, but also that my son would have free access to that media. We came mighty close to not enrolling. I am all for my son having all the freedom in the world to play outside, play imaginitively, pursue his own unique creative interests. But I really do worry about the long-term impact of playing violent video games and exposure to violent media on a young mind. I'm also concerned about the emotional and physical health impacts of kids spending so much time in front of the screen and not outside. Maybe I'll have to buy a Wi for the school with some "physical" games to alleviate some of that concern.

From the research I've done, most Sudbury schools do not have a policy of limiting violent media content, and on many levels, that makes sense to me according to Sudbury philosophy. If we are going to trust our children to make their decisions and follow their interests, why wouldn't we trust them in this area as well.

What I'm having to realize is that this is MY issue. My son really is just fine. He has already shown us time and time again that he knows when something is too much for him. He will not watch certain scenes in the Harry Potter movies because we have already read the books, and he knows he does not want to see how those scenes would be portrayed. He will walk out of the room when such a scene comes on, or ask us to fast forward. When I as a parent try to control everything (for his own good, of course), I end up undermining his confidence and ability to regulate himself.

I have crazy feelings about this, almost daily. I find myself really angry when my sweet, happy little boy comes home and tells me he played Halo again. Inside I'm screaming: "why in the hell am I paying $370 a month for you to play a video game for 3 days a week that I would never allow into my own home." I also find myself really angry with him - on some level I feel like he is squandering his freedom on something I find to be so worthless. But, these are MY issues, not his. I readily admit that there have been days I've tried to make it his issue, going even as far as telling him that if he spends this whole year playing video games, it will be hard for me to send him back in the fall - and yes, I know this was crappy and horrible of me, but was authentic to how I felt at the time. My son's reaction was "well, maybe I should bring it up at school meeting, because I want to keep on going there, and I'd rather have no video games then not be able to go." Boy did I feel like crap.

So, I truly value the freedom my son is experiencing, and am also totally challenged and freaked out by it on a daily basis. I go back and forth between being elated about his opportunity to feeling like I have totally abdicated all of my parental responsibilities and am sending him to his doom. If he were using his freedom to, say, go outside, build a fort, run around, build legos, we'd be totally elated. And, our own control issues and fears around "screen time" probably (very likely, definitely) are one of the factors that lead to him using his time to play Halo. It sucks. And it is wonderful. What a great crucible for growth this is and will be for us, if we can stand the angst.
post #34 of 69
ejsmama - I will try to come back and respond when I have more time.
post #35 of 69
You know, I'll freely admit that I am not a Sudbury expert, not even close. But Halo? For a 5 y/o? I don't get it. I would be hard pressed to think of any situation in which I would think that was OK for a 5 y/o. Just because he "can" be put in the position of choosing to play it or not, doesn't mean that he "should" be put in that position. It's not a great comparison, but if something else dangerous were to offered as an option for a 5 y/o, would that feel OK? I'm all for being in the place of trusting our kids, but kids at 5 have diffent developmental needs and capacities than the kids for whom a rated "M" video game is intended.

I'm sorry for your angst-I'd feel the same way.
post #36 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post
It's not a great comparison, but if something else dangerous were to offered as an option for a 5 y/o, would that feel OK? I'm all for being in the place of trusting our kids, but kids at 5 have diffent developmental needs and capacities than the kids for whom a rated "M" video game is intended.

I'm sorry for your angst-I'd feel the same way.
Hi Karne, your reaction is exactly what our initial reaction was. The problem is that for a Sudbury school to limit this particular activity - an activity that is causing no outward harm to the community and does not appear to be causing harm to the participants, then next they would need to limit other activities that other parents might find objectionable - like eating sugar or junk food(can be dangerous to our bodies). Once you start down that road, like one staff member told me, very shortly it will be something very different than a Sudbury school.

The thing about Sudbury is that it all sounds fantastic until you realize what freedom truly means. That is when it becomes mighty challenging as a parent. BUT, the other side of it is that I am seeing the incredible benefit to my son of his freedom. He is more centered, kinder to his little brother, more polite, and is really doing great with self expression that is not so emotionally charged. The fact that he was able to listen to my concerns about the video games, and even offered to bring it up at school meeting totally floored me. In many ways, he was more mature about it than I was being.

One thing I am certain about is that if my son starts behaving in a violent manner after he plays a video game, he will be brought up at JC. It is the nature of the school to respect kids ability to make choices, but also to hold them accountable when their choices are harmful. When I was sharing my angst with a staff member that I highly respect (I should mention that the staff members at Rising Tide are awesome), she shared a story with me about a student at another school whose behavior was being obviously affected by video games to the detriment of the community and safety of others. He was banned by JC from playing the games for something like 3 months. In the end, he was thankful for the ban, and thought it was good for him. The single most compelling thing to me about Sudbury is JC - how students hold one another accountable for the choices they make, and how fair the kids are because they know that the next day it could be them who are at the other end.

Allowing this kind of freedom and having this kind of trust in my son requires a huge paradigm shift for me, and the jury is still out for me whether it is right or wrong for us. Short term, it seems very very right, at least in terms of his joy. It sure would have been nice to not confront this particular issue this soon.

Am I pissed my son is playing Halo, you bet. Do I wish that it wasn't at the school, for sure. But I also understand that if a school is really going to be democratic and put decision making into the hands of kids, and allow age mixing the way a Sudbury school allows, then this is the natural consequence. What I as a parent need to figure out is if my particular 5 year old is doing ok in that environment. What I see is that when I can let go of my own emotional reactions, he is doing more than fine. He is doing great. I don't know how I'll explain it to the neighbors and my relations, but that is a whole different topic.

I'm looking forward to more replies and a great discussion!
post #37 of 69
ejsmama, we're a Rising Tide family, too. My kids are the four that go full time- August Emmett, Ruthie, and Aster.

I share your concerns about Halo. My kids have been unschooled since birth, we have a wii, and I have never restricted their video game playing. We have dealt with it the way they do at Sudbury- play as much as you want, and be responsible for your behavior. But we've never had first person shooter games! Halo was at the school already- it's also the youth group area (Rising Tide rents the upstairs of a church). I tried supplying two video games we got on ebay, but I don't think they're as popular.

My sons came home the other day saying they wanted to buy Halo 3. I don't want to bring a new shooting game to the school. I haven't really seen the game- at home I play the games with them, so I know what's going on in them.

Part of what your ds is experiencing may be the novelty effect. My sons played wii literally all day for months when we first got it. We had serious issues with the fallout from them not eating, exercising, or even peeing for hours on end. Your ds will probably get his fill at some point. According to my kids, he isn't very competitive. If he doesn't get a kick out of competing, the video games will probably lose their appeal pretty fast.

According to August and Emmett, E also likes to run around and play bionicles. Sometimes it's hard for a little one to describe general activities like "running around"- it's much easier to put a label on things like video games. He might not be spending quite as much time as it sounds like playing Halo.

If it helps, my sons have spent the better part of the last year playing video games, and they have matured and gained skills at a perfectly good rate. They have taken off with their math skills, and their social skills (ironically?) have improved vastly. Their personalities are intact, and they can self regulate video game playing. So it's true, video games don't ruin kids or anything.

Maybe I'll see you at the school some time- I'm not sure if we've met or not!
post #38 of 69
Wow! Thanks Singin'! It is great to hear from another RT mom. I'd love to talk with you more in person. I'll PM my contact info. Since Wendy and I trade childcare and alternate giving Quinn and Elijah rides, I don't actually get to the school as often as other parents. I'd love to meet you. I've been thinking about trying to get the parents group organized...

I really appreciate your perspective on the games, and the novelty effect. I've been thinking that Elijah probably spends less time on video games than I imagine. I know that when he is around other kids, he loves to play deeply and creatively, but when he is home, he gets bored and wants the screen time. I do have a seriously difficult time getting him to go outside, and that has long troubled me. And...the harder I push, the more he wants to be inside.
post #39 of 69
I just want to thank you all for the honest discussions of real life at a free/democratic/Sudbury school. As a miserable public schooled adolescent, I discovered a few books about Sudbury and Sumerhill and DESPERATELY wanted to attend a school like that- I knew I would have thrived (and as an adolescent, I would have). Having now become a mother, I've truely mourned that there are absolutely no such schools anywhere near us because that's the choice I was sure I would have made for dd (Unschooling isn't an option because I have to work outside the home- but would be open to trying to find an unschooling family that I could pay to take her in for the day!). Now I do realize that I'm not quite sure that I could handle the consequences of absolute freedom for my 5 or 6 year old. For a 13 year old, yes, but I personally don't think I could handle it- like a previous poster said, My problem not the school or my child.
post #40 of 69
I also wanted to chime in and thank the few parents who have kids in Sudbury schools for writing and sharing. ejsmama, your thoughts could be mine, we don't do video games at home, yet anyway. I've always wanted my kids to go the democratic route for education (oldest is 5, in public K right now) but the way the last year worked out, we couldn't swing enrolling him yet. He will thankfully do a visiting week this December for possible spring enrollment...I hope its ok to post yet another question/vent, if any Sudbury parents read this I'd love some advice too!! :

I'm so worried that now that my son has been at public school, even if he likes the visiting week at the nearby Sudbury school, he's going to want to go back to public b/c of his friends, or he sees that as his "school", etc. Of all things, he likes the public school. I didn't mind it at first, and at times I still don't, but it was never in my plans for him to go to p.s. He follows the teachers rules to a "T" and she rewards him everday with candy, stickers, etc., and it gives him confidence/happiness to be a good rule follower. He even loves doing his homework...it confuses me that he enjoys it to be honest!...anyway that's me venting. Almost all the accounts I've read of people enrolling their kids in Sudbury it seems as if the public school route wasn't working, and the kid was so happy when they enrolled in Sudbury. For us my kid is actually happy now (and I don't share my unhappiness with things like candy rewards and homework, since those at this point are only my issues, not my son's), but I value the Sudbury model as far superior to public school...and I hope I'm not pushing my ideas onto my kid. My son has a huge say in his life, and for us the choice of school is no different. How terrible is it that I'm stressing he won't want to go to the Sudbury school!!! Arrggg!!!

Sande
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