Anyone have input on a Sudbury school? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 08-01-2006, 12:57 AM - Thread Starter
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We've been toying around with the idea of sending DS to a different school to better match his needs. There is a Sudbury campus relatively near our home and I'm checking into the details of it.

While the online info has been very helpful, I'm interested in hearing if anyone has any first-hand experience with a Sudbury school (good or bad) or advice to offer.


Kim - Wife to Liam , Unschooly mama to Nick (10/00) Lily (09/05) and Olivia (07/09)
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#2 of 9 Old 08-01-2006, 01:24 AM
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Moved to Learning at School: Other (Reggio Emilia, Sudbury, Democratic).


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#3 of 9 Old 08-01-2006, 01:59 AM
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I have experience with a Sudbury school in California. Our ds attended from age 11 until he graduated at almost 18. As parents we are quite happy with the results. From my observation, it's even better the younger they start.

The Sudbury schools generally have a "visiting week" as part of their admissions process so you get to try it out before you commit to a full year enrollment.

The most difficult thing, for a parent, is to trust that your child will learn what he/she needs in his/her own time. For sure they learn "who they are" and what their interests/passions are and how to pursue them, as well as learning a lot of basics such as reading in the process. The kids truly are empowered and it is very effective in the long run.

If you have more specific questions I would be happy to try and answer.
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#4 of 9 Old 08-13-2006, 09:20 PM
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Kim - My daughter attends the original Sudbury Valley School in Massachusetts. It is very much an "unschool" school. She has been there for a year and a half, and we are both very happy with her experience there.

I would also be happy to answer any specific questions if you have any. There are some interesting old threads here about Sudbury as well.
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#5 of 9 Old 10-30-2006, 07:34 PM
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I was in a Sudbury school from the ages of 15-17. At the time I didn't think I learned much of anything. I wasn't forced to do anything, and I was going through BIG time public school detox. However, looking back I learned a great deal more than any text book could have ever taught me. In those two years I read many many books I would have never read in public school. (I am an avid reader) I learned to respect other people of all ages (I really didn't know at that age that younger kids could be so smart) and I actually rediscovered my love for learning. I would highly recommend them. If I wasn't able to homeschool, this is the route I would take.

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#6 of 9 Old 11-06-2006, 04:09 AM
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hi Kim,

Both of my children go to a sudbury school in Washington state. I really love the school, and the kids do as well (especially my dd, who went to kindergarden at a public school). I think what helped me the most in making my decision was reading as many Sudbury Valley books as possible. I checked out all the ones I could find at the library (I think there were 4-5 of them). We also spent a lot of time talking with staff and other parents; our school does "info nights" and several other gatherings for potential/newly enrolled families. And, of course, there is a visiting week at most schools, as FreeTime said.

From what I can tell hearing from other parents, different Sudbury schools have different vibes, and you may or may not mesh with them. I do think that because it is such a unique model, you have to be willing to suspend judgment for a while. You should take a moment to really consider everything before you say yes or no to a Sudbury school. One of my favorite things is to really get into the process of how we make our decisions and what we are truly basing them on, so that is where I'm coming from.

I'm also happy to answer more questions.

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#7 of 9 Old 01-10-2007, 05:10 PM
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Hey Kim,

My neighbor went to a Sudbury School and every time I talk to her it sounds better and better. It seems VERY different than the type of school I'm used to although I would have LOVED going there if I had the chance as a kid. I was a great traditional school student, and yet I learned more after school, on weekends, and during summer vacations than I did in classrooms.

And if the graduates of Sudbury schools seemed messed up, I'd be concerned but my neighbor is really cool and she said all the kids she knew who went there are fine too -- they're as prepared for today's world as any other high school graduate, maybe more prepared than average, and if they can get to that same place while having so much fun along the way, it just sounds really great to me.

Although ultimately, it's the child's choice, in my view. The schools seem very small in numbers so I can imagine my son choosing a different school just based on number of students. But I'm excited to give him a shot a Sudbury School to see if it works for him.

Good look in your adventures!

-- jimmy
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#8 of 9 Old 01-17-2007, 02:40 PM
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I don't have kids yet, but I visited a Sudbury Valley School (The Clearwater School) in Bothell, Washington several months ago because the Sudbury Valley philosophy was refreshing to me and I wanted to see firsthand what such a place was like. It seemed like a really cool place. It had a community, almost familial vibe. It was lovely to see people of all ages interacting in a healthy way, instead of in the way I used to see them interact in public school. I started unschooling in high school. It was the perfect decision for me. I just wish I had begun unschooling earlier or had had the chance to attend a Sudbury Valley school.
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#9 of 9 Old 01-29-2007, 06:35 AM
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It's been a while since I checked into MDC, but what a lovely suprise to find such a healthy SVS climate!

We are building an SVS type school at the moment in Japan. We are just laying the foundations for a "mini" practice building 1/3 the size of the final version. Needless to say, we have no real students yet, but those who are interested are here every weekend helping to build, my kids included, dig, drill and mix cement at the weekends. Soon we will cut and errect the steel frame, and take delivery of the straw bales for the walls. Sometimes they are just off in the forest, collecting fire wood for the outdoor wood stove, others chopping veg, or making "camp coffee". Otherwise, they are playing with the locals in the park that is right outside the front door . I do most of the donkey work part time every day.

Last year we had a student from FL come for about a year before he graduated from his SVS model school. It was very cool to have him, and he could really "dig" that he was not going to get told anything by me. I think he really gained something by being away from home, away from the US. We talked at length (we had a year after all!) about the ins and outs of Dem Model, and the problems that can develop in schools that are underfunded or have weak idiological bedrock and leadership.

As for your situation, and SVS model schools, there is MUCH that I can say. The starting points are:

1) Before anything else, read "Free at Last".

2) Next... understand that a "good one" depends on the school (all subtly different) and your child. Age, type, previous ed experience or mistreatment. If they mesh, NP. If not, and there is another one nearby, try it. They are not all the same. Some schools neglect to offer welcome guildance to new children (eg detailing another child to "hold their hand" for a day or so, as it is not felt it is needed. Others have quite good "welcome" structures, and that changes too, over time!

3) Voice your fears, here or to the children and staff at the school. (especially the kids, if you can find one willing to listen) Remember, you are not here to argue. If you don't get it, pause, and mull it over. The key is really whether you own child gets it or not. That sometimes takes time.

Note that it is very unlikely that any school will have special needs functionality, (eg my kids are deeply Asperger and we have worked hard to ensure that there is a degree of social selfsufficiency), so a minimum of social capability is needed in your children.

Having said that, I can not think of a better place for a child to come to terms with a social envionment than a well run SVS model school, which is why we are making the effort here that we are.

Hope this helps


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