Went to a Sudbury open house yesterday... - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 20 Old 05-02-2004, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, I was so impressed and relieved at the same time. I had lots of concerns like safety, parental involvement, video game playing, etc, etc, etc. DH and I spent 1.5hrs talking with several parents who have children there and they answered every question we had. I don't have time to write lots now but if anyone has questions about my visit, I would be happy to answer them We visited the Sudbury Valley school in MA. My son is 3 so we would be sending him there in 2.5yrs when he is 5.5. We may consider sending him at 4 but I really don't think he would be ready that ealry. I love the fact that you can send your child any time after 4 to try it for as many or as few hours/days as you/they want and they don't have to go full time until age 7 or 8 when it is required to attend 5 hrs per day by the state. I am feeling really positive about sending DS there now. My husband did bring up some valid concerns like out of the 200 students, they are mostly older. I think there are less than 10 5 yr olds. I'm not too worried about that though since combing all students under 10 i'm sure would provide plenty of friends for DS near his age. Most parents don't find Sudbury until their kids have already gone to public school so they don't get the opportunity to start early. DH's other concern was whether Sudbury was kind of a "dumping ground" for kids who messed up at every other school. Also, looking ahead to college, what the process would be like for a student with no transcripts, etc. That one was easily answered first by my father, a Sociology professor who has had students coming from Sudbury model schools, and also by the folks we met at the open house. Apparently almost all Sudbury Valley students are accepted to the school of their choice.

I am being summoned by my 3yo. I'll check in later and try to write more.
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#2 of 20 Old 05-02-2004, 03:03 PM
 
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I would love to hear the answers to your specific concerns you mentioned.
Thanks.
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#3 of 20 Old 05-02-2004, 03:30 PM
 
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That's great that they let you go part-time! The school in my area accepts kids age 5-19, but only allows 5-year-olds to go part time.
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#4 of 20 Old 05-02-2004, 06:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfmama
I would love to hear the answers to your specific concerns you mentioned.
Thanks.
OK I have a little time so here goes. In the span of 1.5hrs I asked dozens of questions so i'll sum up the most important. The issue of safety was one. I had heard second hand that there was a pond with no fence around it and that the children were unsupervised and could wander in, etc. This was the first question I asked and the answer was the pond is absolutely and completely off limits and if a child so much as dips a toe or finger in it they are automatically suspended for a day and are reminded by a staff member of the pond rules. The smaller children are never really unsupervised as there are always older childre/faculty around. Apparently there has never been a drowning or near-drowning incident. There is a creek that is about 2 ft deep at the most where the children are allowed to look for frogs, etc. but must go in pairs and it is viewable by the offices in the bldg. Nothing has ever happened at the creek either. Another concern of mine was that parents might be kept at a great distance in order to preserve the philosophy of truly child lead learning. This is not the case at all. In fact, the parents are as involved as they want to be but unlike public school, they do not try to control what goes on at the school. That is left up to the students and their voting process. If a parent notices that their child is not thriving or is bothered by something they can ask a faculty member what they feel might be going on. Also if the faculty notice a child not thriving they will contact the parent. THis eased my mind because I would not be comfortable dropping off my 5yo and never being involved in his school life or transitional issues, etc. As for it being a "dumping ground"...sure, like any private school some parents will try it as a last resort but the vast majority are really commited to the philosophy and if a child goes there and is really disruptive the other students vote them out. The students I met and saw there were amazing.

Those were my main concerns I think. I could surely answer lots more questions though, i'm just not remembering off the top of my head right now. (pregnant and raising 3yo brain
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#5 of 20 Old 05-03-2004, 02:36 AM
 
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Huh! Another school I didn't know existed! Thanks for sharing the info.
-Lynn

Opinionated Mama to dd 2/23/03, ds 3/20/05 hbac, dd 1/23/08 2hbac, and baby #4 due in June 2010!
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#6 of 20 Old 05-03-2004, 11:42 AM
 
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Thanks for the info--I'm currently checking out a Sudbury school in Sacramento for my young children and although it intuitively feels right to me, I share some of your concerns. By the way, I like this school's attendance policy: "The school is open from 8 to 5 daily. Students arrive and depart at times convenient to them and their parents, but they must remain at least 4 hours to satisfy the state attendance requirements." Awesome!
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#7 of 20 Old 05-03-2004, 11:51 AM
 
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Mamabtt, we are in MA also, and I am very seriously considering sending my dc there...ds will be 3 in June and is attending a Montessori pre-school this fall. I was thinking of sending him to Sudbury when he was 4, but if there are alot of older kids, maybe I will wait...I am going to see if we can go for a tour...Thanks for the info!
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#8 of 20 Old 05-03-2004, 12:15 PM
 
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How many teachers worked at the school? The school in my area has only 3 full-time teachers. They say if a student wants to learn about something they can't teach, they help out as best they can, and invite the student to bring in another guest teacher.

Also, do you know what kind of training the teachers have?
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#9 of 20 Old 05-03-2004, 12:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Tofumama, I recognize you from lurking on the MA board One mom I spoke with at the open house has 3 kids under 10 and they all started at 4yo. She said 2 of them thrived right away but one wasn't ready so she tried again in 6 months. I love the flexibility. I am on the fence about preschool right now for my 3yo starting in September when he will be 3.5 and I will have a newborn. I do feel that my son might be ready for preschool but not ready for the Sudbury environment at that age. I'm not exactly sure why but I feel that at 4 my son would still need more individualized attention. He is a very sensitive child and 5.5 is probably the earliest I would send him but I may change my mind as I know my son will be changing so dramatically over the next 2 yrs. I plan on calling Sudbury Valley to find out if and when there will be another open house soon since my husband and I both agree we would like to visit several more times and ask many more questions of staff/parents/students. For anyone interested, their website is www.sudval.org Through their website I signed up for their listserv(?) and have been reading some *very* interesting discussion amongst parents, teachers, Sudbury founders, etc. Worth a look.

Good luck to you.

PS - I am also married to a guitar playing Dave! LOL
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#10 of 20 Old 05-03-2004, 12:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greaseball
How many teachers worked at the school? The school in my area has only 3 full-time teachers. They say if a student wants to learn about something they can't teach, they help out as best they can, and invite the student to bring in another guest teacher. Also, do you know what kind of training the teachers have?
Unfortunately we were only there for 1.5hrs and spent the time speaking only with parents. We will go again and meet faculty at some point but didn't have time at this open house. What the parents told me was that if a student has an interest in a particular subject, they approach a faculty member (not sure how many there are but i'm sure it is many more than 3) and coordinate a time, etc, with them. Also, a student who has an interest in having a class taught in a particular subject and can gather a few other students interested in the same, can have a "formal" class taught at the school. Someone also mentioned they have a piano teacher (I missed the rest of that converstation though while tending to my 3yo). I am anxious to go back and meet teachers and find out about their background. I'll post back again with that info when I get it.
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#11 of 20 Old 06-03-2004, 05:25 PM
 
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hi there (nice to meet you the other day, btw...it was great)

I was skimming through and found this thread, must be kismet.

I am interested in all this discussion but before I can read any further, I gotta know.........

What kind of money are we talking about? :

I need to know what ballpark we're in before I can safely determine if I am out of my league...

TIA
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#12 of 20 Old 06-03-2004, 08:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi It was great to meet you too!

Good question....I believe Sudbury Valley is 8 or 9K per year. I got this info from a friend over a year ago though, so I plan on calling. It's a lot but it seems downright cheap compared to Waldorf around here (I'm not considering Waldorf at all but just for comparison...) It's 17K !!! I think the Montessori schools here are somewhere in the middle.

I will try to remember to post back when I get more info and visit the school again.
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#13 of 20 Old 06-03-2004, 09:00 PM
 
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I believe, and I have pg. brain, that the info they sent me said $5,000 in full for the first kid, and they reduce the tuition for each kid thereafter. I had an annoying interaction with someone from the school over the phone...I called to set up an interview, and they asked how old ds was, and I said 3 in June...she said he was too young, I should call back in a year. I stated I knew he was too young, but we were trying to explore our education options, and since we can't see the school. or talk with anyone/ask questions without an interview, we want one! We went around and around, b/c she wouldn't give me one! FINALLY, after I said, 'well, if you are not interested in my son attending, I will just move on...' then the music changed and she would give me one but said I'd have to have a second one in a year anyways. Ugh. I won't base a school on my interactions with one person, but cripes, should it have been that hard? I am still considering it, but will probably hs for a couple years...
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#14 of 20 Old 06-03-2004, 10:34 PM
 
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$17K for Waldorf? Jeeeeez, man. I had Ruby in the parent/child thing for a session and it was cool but not really my thing. I know that here in RI, Waldorf is about $8K per year. I mean, I know everything is pricier up there but come on!

The Sudbury rate doesn't scare me off...the proximity does. Framingham is a little out of the way. Okay, a lot out of the way [and after my experiences packing boxes today, I AM NEVER MOVING AGAIN].

I guess I will just keep on keepin' on having fun and learning at home until the big decisions need to be addressed. We're just happy that Mass has open enrollment because I am not opposed to public school, just not the one in the town we're moving too

Who knew, back in the ol' swingin' single days, huh? These are the kinds of torturous moves we'd have to endlessly contemplate making.

hi tofumama!...have fun tomorrow...we'll be hopping on board for the next get together
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#15 of 20 Old 06-04-2004, 09:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tofumama
I called to set up an interview, and they asked how old ds was, and I said 3 in June...she said he was too young, I should call back in a year. I stated I knew he was too young, but we were trying to explore our education options, and since we can't see the school. or talk with anyone/ask questions without an interview, we want one! We went around and around, b/c she wouldn't give me one! FINALLY, after I said, 'well, if you are not interested in my son attending, I will just move on...' then the music changed and she would give me one but said I'd have to have a second one in a year anyways.
Wow, that would really leave a bad taste in my mouth. I hope that is just one person's attitude. I haven't had interaction with the faculty there yet so i'm hoping for the best. The kids and parents we met were great though. Once I have this baby in August and things settle, we will give them a call and see about coming in and about future open houses. I'm pretty happy about the 5K tuition cost

Quote "The Sudbury rate doesn't scare me off...the proximity does. Framingham is a little out of the way. Okay, a lot out of the way [and after my experiences packing boxes today, I AM NEVER MOVING AGAIN]."

Yes that's a problem for us too. It's about a 1/2 hr drive from our town and I hate to think of my kids having to commute. I guess it's a pretty big thing to weigh in the pros/cons. My husband works out that way so that would be convenient but he switches job locations pretty frequently so we can't count on that. On the plus side, the school has no start/end time. Kids can be dropped off anytime between 8 and 5 as long as they complete their 5 hrs per day (older kids) somewhere in there so at least I could avoid rush hr

My son turned 3 in march so we have time to decide....heck, i'm still completely unsure about preschool. Our public schools are supposed to be great but that just means great on paper as far as i'm concerned....we'll see.
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#16 of 20 Old 06-04-2004, 11:35 PM
 
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Sudbury schools sound so great for me, but it always comes back to the same thing...

To me, it is just having someone else homeschool/unschool your child for a LOT (IMO) money. If we had tons of money, maybe, as it is we just can't even consider it.

 

 

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#17 of 20 Old 06-14-2004, 04:27 PM
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I looked at an alternative school here. It's a public school but completely democratic like Sudbury schools. One of my concerns was that my shy and quiet son would get lost in the community. In the general meeting that I attended I was impressed by the assertiveness of the children. My son is pretty shy and I'm not sure he would be noticed in that crowd, you know? I wondered if this type of school attracts more assertive (I want to say aggressive but that word has too much baggage) children? I encourage my son to speak up but I'm not sure he's demanding enough for that environment. Anybody else have these concerns?
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#18 of 20 Old 06-22-2004, 02:30 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Liz
IOne of my concerns was that my shy and quiet son would get lost in the community.

In the general meeting that I attended I was impressed by the assertiveness of the children. My son is pretty shy and I'm not sure he would be noticed in that crowd, you know? I wondered if this type of school attracts more assertive (I want to say aggressive but that word has too much baggage) children? I encourage my son to speak up but I'm not sure he's demanding enough for that environment. Anybody else have these concerns?
I think real assertiveness comes not from practice, but from inner confidence. Because the SVS system does NOT, in any way, go out of its way to "notice" children that are shy, shy children do not have to feel any spotlight, and can come out of their shell when they are ready.

I don't think that the school "attracts" assertive chidren. What you see there, is the result.

Hope that helps

a

The anti-Ezzo king
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#19 of 20 Old 06-22-2004, 02:35 PM
 
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Originally Posted by TiredX2
Sudbury schools sound so great for me, but it always comes back to the same thing...

To me, it is just having someone else homeschool/unschool your child for a LOT (IMO) money.

Definately not. (that is to say, simply unschooling)

I've had this conversation a million times (happy to do it again though ), but the point is that children get to discover themselves in the context of a wider community, that itself does not always have te same agenda as a homeshooling or family un-schooling community.

It is the wide age range and experience of a group of poeple that your children can benefit from.

a

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#20 of 20 Old 06-22-2004, 02:39 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greaseball

Also, do you know what kind of training the teachers have?
Hi Greaseball,

It's been a while huh!

The training that -staff- have can vary from nothing to Phd. Staff are not selected on the basis of uni qualifications, but upon their ability to provide the children what they are looking for.

Anyone doubting the benefits of this can start a thread with me.

a

The anti-Ezzo king
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