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#61 of 69 Old 03-23-2010, 06:23 PM
 
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Hi mamas!
I've been reading this thread and wanted to say hi to everyone and offer some support. I am the parent of a Sudbury student and a Staff and cofounder at Rising Tide School in Olympia, WA. Our experience with Sudbury has been incredibly awesome, rewarding, and life-saving. My daughter is happier than she's ever been and learning so much! I want to share some thoughts for people who are thinking about Sudbury and for those who are trying it but struggling.
Reading along here, I am really struck by how parents struggle over their children's attendance at Sudbury schools. Because it's so different that the schools that most of us went to, and so different than the schools that most people we know go to, it can really be hard to understand how it all works AND hard to know how to support our kids as they educate themselves. The problems that come up often have no equivalent in the world of mainstream education and so we don't have the practice and support to work through them.
For example, Caronne talks about withdrawing her kids from SVS because (in part) they haven't yet figured out how to how to get the classes they want. Yes...that's definitely not the typical problem that we faced growing up or that our friends or neighbors face A few parents from Rising Tide are here with concerns about resources and gaming. How many parents have to worry about trusting their children to use media responsibly at school? I hear other posters with worries that are based on incorrect information (for example, about transcripts and how Sudbury schools support students who go on to college). No, Sudbury schools don't provide transcripts. It would be impossible to, because each child's educational path is completely different and the school does not undertake to measure or assess student activities. Yes, that means that, unlike their peers in traditional schools, students have to take full responsibility for figuring out how to get to college. No wonder people often are so worried when thinking about trying Sudbury.
I really encourage people to reach out to the Staff at their schools when going through struggles like these. It's so helpful to get clarification about school policies and to hear what goes on at school directly from the Staff. I find that parents almost always experience relief and renewed excitement after reaching out and scheduling a conference. It is hard work to try this type of education--it requires so much trust and effort from us as parents. To really educate ourselves about how the school works and to constantly work through our own fears and worries--without much support from the world--is a big undertaking.
And yet is really is so worth it. I don't know of any better way for children to truly create a meaningful education and a meaningful life. I hope that those of you who are drawn to Sudbury give it a try, give your schools and students lots of support, and get lots of support for yourself.
Best of luck on your journeys! I really enjoy talking to people about Sudbury and about how to support your Sudbury student (and yourself) through the self-education journey. If you'd like to email me you'd be welcome to--it's abbebird at gmail dot com. peace,
Abbe
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#62 of 69 Old 04-02-2010, 11:14 PM
 
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Thanks for giving input into this conversation, abbe. You're right that Sudbury parents face unique challenges with their kids, because we are dealing with situations that kids at other schools never face. For example, at a parent-staff conference tonight, we talked (again) about how and when our kids were going to learn to read. It's good to feel supported as a parent with concerns, and at the same time feel that my kids are supported to follow their own learning journeys. Because as respectful parents, we realize that we don't know all the answers, and that having concerns doesn't mean we should barge in and try to control our kids- we also have learning to do, and the goal is really to work it out to our kids' highest good.

When problems come up at the school, there is a lot of time and energy spent understanding the situation, trying remedies, and coming up with creative ways to improve the situation. There's no black and white, broken rules equals consequences. It can be frustrating, because it means problems stay up in the air for a long time. But even as a parent who took one child to another school, I have a lot of faith in the process the school uses to resolve issues. The resolutions take a while, but they result in growth for the kids- I've seen this happen with my own kids.

One problem I have with the process of problem solving at Sudbury is that it's hard for parents to access. I have come to school to pick up my kids and heard, "By the way Mom, E is being recommended for suspension at school meeting tomorrow." This would never happen in a public school! I can understand why keeping parents essentially out of the loop protects the community at the school. But honestly, I think I could have helped solve some of the problems my kids were having at school if I'd known what was going on. It's not that the school is trying to be secretive, it's that they don't approach parents with problems and turn them into a home discipline issue. I agree with that- JC would never work if parents were punishing kids at home- but I would like to see more open access for parents into the school community. Maybe it's there, and I don't know it because I'm busy with my own school?

These are some of the thoughts that came up for me following our first conference with the staff at Rising Tide- I'm feeling very good about my kids' experience there!

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#63 of 69 Old 05-20-2010, 09:49 AM
 
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Thanks for this thread. I'm looking into SVS (in Mass.) for DS - we know some people who have children who attend, but we don't know them well (everyone seems to love it). DS is just 1, but the SVS is so different that I feel we need the time to research it, find out what we need to know, weigh that against how DS develops, and basically just do our leg work now while we have the time (we plan on a second kid just around the time we'll "have" to be forming an actual opinion, and I think we'll be otherwise occupied then).

I did just cross post on the "old" subdury thread - but that seems to be a dead end as it's not very active, so I'm reposting here. If the moderator feels the need to delete the other one, that's fine with me.

At the moment, my particular concern is with internet/media access. chat rooms, facebook, myspace, youtube, etc. I think the SVS model is great, but I wonder if some parts of it are a little outdated for this technology age? I don't know. But I do worry about internet access/interacting via internet and personal safety. How hard would it be for a kid to stumble into a chat room (if such things still exist - you get my point, anyway), tell someone where they go to school, and 'oh, we have open campus, I can leave whenever' and run into trouble when they end up meeting someone just off campus (not that the SVS neighborhood is a bad one)? I'm sure the likelihood of that is extermely remote, and we can't control stuff like that (or anything, really) - but we'll be monitoring internet activity here at home (violating personal space? yes. my job as a parent? yes. computer/wireless access only in the main living areas, not the bedrooms, no electronic media in bedrooms at all - parents included) and I'm curious how internet access is dealt with at the SVS. I mean, can the kids watch porn on the computers all day? or would that be deemed "harmful" to themselves (assuming they didn't show anyone else) & be brought up at JC? What are the chances of anyone else even knowing about it? the computer room at SVS seemed a) small and b) possible to situate yourself so that you had adequate privacy (we attended the open house last month - which alleviated many of my original fears).

I know, I know - my kid is only 1 - he's a long way off from porn. But with freely mixing ages, how hard would it be for him to be exposed to something harmful an older kid is doing (drugs, smoking, drinking at school - if it happens in PS, it must happen at SVS too, only with less "supervision")? And while, yes, it might be called harmful and brought up before the JC, at that point...damage is done - or SOME damage is done (kids are elastic & can heal/learn/change/grow). I fully expect to be dealing with that sort of media access on some level around the age of 13 or so, I really don't want my 6 year old exposed to porn (or drugs/smoking/alcohol) regardless of how mature he is for his age.

It's ironic that the very technology that pays the bills that can afford us to send DS to the SVS is the one of the main things I'm concerned with him accessing unfettered...

I wasn't exactly an angel in public high school - the stuff I got away with while flying under the radar - well, let's just say I'm happy I survived. But then again, I suppose one could argue that I did survive anyway.
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#64 of 69 Old 05-24-2010, 01:29 AM
 
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my younger kids (ages 7 $ 10) are going to the Sudbury model shcool here.
( clearviewsudburyschool.org ) so far it has really worked for them. they love it. of course, our school is still small but growing. I like reading all of the feedback from other parents on their sudbury experiences.
up until now we have always homeschooled (unschooling mostly). my older ones are still learning at home.

mom to four lively children. birth and postpartum doula. midwifery student. choosing to enjoy life. :
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#65 of 69 Old 06-15-2010, 03:42 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai28 View Post
and I'm curious how internet access is dealt with at the SVS.
You would need to ask at the specific school you are considering. At the alternative/open school my kids will be attending in the fall, kids aren't allowed internet access at school at all until middle school. The computers are in public spaces where any one walking by can see what the child is doing, and there is a 6 to 1 teacher ratio.

Quote:
how hard would it be for him to be exposed to something harmful an older kid is doing (drugs, smoking, drinking at school - if it happens in PS, it must happen at SVS too, only with less "supervision")?
Right now my kids attend public middle school, and these things aren't a problem at their school, nor with any of their friends that they see outside of school. I'm not saying that "none of the kids that attend my children's school ever drink/smoke etc.," but it doesn't happen at school and my kids do not hang out with kids who do these things. I honestly believe these problems get overstated in our culture.

Quote:
I fully expect to be dealing with that sort of media access on some level around the age of 13 or so, I really don't want my 6 year old exposed to porn (or drugs/smoking/alcohol) regardless of how mature he is for his age.
If these things are going on at any school, then you aren't going to want your child there, even when they are 13!

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#66 of 69 Old 06-18-2010, 11:55 AM
 
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Kai28- I realize you posted about this a month ago, but I also have an almost 1 year old and live in your general area :-) Sudbury Valley has been on our radar for years as well. I'd love to hear how you found the open house, we have not been to one because we were worried we would seem ridiculous attending with our little babe! Feel free to send me a PM, I have some of the books from the sudbury valley press, if you are interested in reading them.
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#67 of 69 Old 08-10-2010, 07:29 PM
 
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Hello all,
I've just been reviewing this thread because I'm in the middle of making a decision on where to send 5yr old DS -- and one of my option is The Clearwater School here near Seattle. I agree with many of the benefits of democratic/free schools cited by all of you here, and I share many of the same concerns cited by many of you. One concern I have is that at least at Clearwater, there appears to be almost NO racial/cultural/ethnic diversity. Most (if not all?) the students are white. I'm wondering if anyone here has some insight as to whether or not this is a common issue to free/democratic schools, or common to private schools in general, or just due somehow to geographic factors? I will of course be talking with the school staff about this, but in the meantime I wanted to get a feel from other parents who have more experience with free schools as to whether this is a common issue?
Thank you,
Mamagoose
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#68 of 69 Old 08-14-2010, 02:46 AM
 
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I've been involved with our local Sudbury school here in Concord, CA for about 10 years, and my son attended for six years. This school is very diverse in terms of ethnicity, religion, politics, income, family composition, etc. That might reflect the geographic area where we are.

So I'm not sure you could generalize about the diversity of all the schools, as each is individual.

Also to an earlier poster, don't feel embarrassed about attending an Open House with a young baby. At our school we love it! How wonderful when parents begin thinking early about the best education for their child.
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#69 of 69 Old 09-26-2010, 06:17 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mamagoose View Post
Most (if not all?) the students are white. I'm wondering if anyone here has some insight as to whether or not this is a common issue to free/democratic schools, or common to private schools in general, or just due somehow to geographic factors?
My kids go to a progressive school, not a Sudbury school, but it's in the same philosophical direction.

It's mostly white. The one African American student is adopted and has white parents. The area we live in has a high Latino Population, but there are very few latinos at the school.

It's just mostly white.

My kids' school has a high percentage of kids who have mild special needs. It's not a special needs school, but it works so much better for kids who are "quirky" that there are lot of them there. So it's worked out to be diverse in a different way than I first thought it would.

The Spanish teacher is a native speaker, one of the staff is in a wheel chair, and the sign language teacher is profoundly deaf.

I don't know why more families of color don't choose the school, but it's still the best place for *my* children.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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