Describe the "perfect" free school - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 02-25-2007, 11:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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What would you consider the perfect Free/ Sudberry/ Democratic school? How would you see the campus, the buildings? Exposure to the arts? Would kids bring their own lunch, prepare meals together? How much involvment would parents have?

Would the school be in a rural area with the opportunity for gardens, animals?
What age kids would attend? How long would the day be? How many days of the week would the school be open?

Come on mamas, I knew the wisdom here would far surpass anywhere else I could turn...

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#2 of 11 Old 02-27-2007, 08:42 PM
 
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Are you thinking of opening one?

My perfect free school. Hmmm. Let's see

I would see a nice big building with plenty of large rooms. A library, computer room, game room, quiet room, media room, nice big kitchen...A big outdoor area for running around and possibly raising animals. A pond for fishing.

I think it would be nice to have the option of either preparing meals at school or bringing ones own lunch. Its a luxury we don't have at our school right now but would greatly help me out if we did.

A garden would be wonderful! I could see this in a rural area thats walking distance to the town and attractions. Its one thing I like about our school, we are right in the middle of it all and can walk to so many places, or well we could before we moved buildings but we still have plenty of places to walk to. The downside is we have no outside space, so we have to organize a walk to the park down the road.

attendance age 5-18. Our days are 830-430 and sometimes I feel its not long enough and somedays its too long. 5 days a week with the option of weekends being open. I like the idea of a summer program too.

This is our first year and we are in a start up school. I think we have so many great things and its just a matter of being able to get all of the ducks in a row to get the perfect blending to create a great free school.
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#3 of 11 Old 02-28-2007, 01:37 AM
 
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I can tell you about my dream school I hope to open someday! I picture it being rural in that it is outside a city but close enough to be reached by the nearby city or suburbs. But I picture the school being far enough out to afford several acres of land.

I always picture a big old Victorian house (which there are practically none of around here!). Two stories with a big porch and balcony. Lots of odd shaped rooms with great nooks and hiding places and comfy places to read.

There'd be a kitchen where people could cook for their lunch each day as well as just to learn to cook. There'd be a quiet room, a computer room, and some sort of large room that would be good for sitting and talking and hanging out. Also a room for arts and crafts. I'd love a dark room, too.

I'd love to have other buildings like a guest house or shed or barn that has A/C. I could see it being used for music or something that would otherwise be kind of loud in the main house.

I always picture there being a lake or a pond or something like that. And big old trees that are great for climbing.

I'd want some area that could be used as a garden, flower or vegetable depending on what interested the kids at the time.

I like the idea of having animals there, horses or other farm animals but I am not going to take care of them so it'd depend who else was on staff!

Remember, I am in dream land here but it sure is a nice place to be!

I think I'd want it open from Labor Day to Memorial Day. Probably set the hours 8:30 to 3:30. I'd like to have a summer session, too. I'd probably want it closed for at least one month in the summer.

I'd also like it to be open to kids who want to go part time, like maybe some home schoolers who want to attend 2-3 days a week. Or maybe find some other way to open it up to that community.

I'd have it open for ages 5-18 or so. As for involvement from parents, I imagine some parents would be staff. Other parents, you'd just hope they'd allow the school to "be" rather than campaign for change to their vision all the time!
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#4 of 11 Old 03-01-2007, 04:55 PM
 
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Wow, Ellen, you just almost perfectly described Sudbury Valley School in MA. Except there is no airconditioning in the barn. But the barn is where the soundproofed music rooms are. And there are no animals there now, although I believe there have been in the past. If the kids decided they wanted some, they could do it as long as they got it approved a school meeting.

Was your description a coincidence, or have you visited or read some of Danny's books?

I agree with your ideas about physical layout - lots of interesting spaces, good climbing trees and rocks, lots of different areas to experience nature. Lots and lots of books, some scientific equipment available, like microscopes and telescopes. Musical instruments available to experiment with. Lots of good art and craft materials.

But no matter what you have to offer, it's really the kids who create this kind of school. They will work with what they have, as long as you have enough room for them to spread out a bit.
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#5 of 11 Old 03-01-2007, 04:56 PM
 
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: Interesting thread...

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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#6 of 11 Old 03-02-2007, 12:27 PM
 
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I like all the ideas..
THe garden, pond, things to climb on, animals, and having extended hours all things I'd like to see....there's a "free school" planning to open in the fall in my area...its so exciting. I'd also like to add having a sliding scale so all could attend not only the ones that could afford it. And traveling to all kinds of places. And that parents could be as involved as they wanted to be
Look forward to hearing everyones ideas

RAyRAy~

Life Learning Momma to DS17, DS16,DS9jumpers.gifas well a dog, a cat, two birds...ttc babygirl.gif homeschool.gifnamaste.gif
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#7 of 11 Old 03-05-2007, 09:27 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MommyPam View Post
Wow, Ellen, you just almost perfectly described Sudbury Valley School in MA. Except there is no airconditioning in the barn. But the barn is where the soundproofed music rooms are. And there are no animals there now, although I believe there have been in the past. If the kids decided they wanted some, they could do it as long as they got it approved a school meeting.
That's funny! No, I've never been there. I live in Texas, which is why A/C is so important to me. But when I think about a free school, it seems you need a place with room for kids to roam outside that is safe and there should be interesting things to see in the natural world. Animals and gardening would be a nice addition. Kids always love being outdoors. As for the inside, I loved to read as a kid and would have loved to have little places to curl up when I wanted to read and still be able to go find kids to play with when I was done. Maybe that's why I want to open a free school -- to live out my childhood dreams!

I would like to go to a Sudbury school for a visit some time so I can decide if I want to open a Sudbury school or just a democratic school. From what you say, I should open a Sudbury school!
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#8 of 11 Old 03-06-2007, 09:19 AM
 
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It's a lot of work Ellen but so worth it IMO. Start planning now to open in a few years. The more planning you have done the better.
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#9 of 11 Old 03-12-2007, 01:12 AM
 
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Thanks for the encouragement, TribeMamma! I know it will be a lot of work but in a way I'd be doing it for my DD and it'd be an extension of providing her an environment and education I would want to provide even if I was not trying to open a school so that should give me the incentive to stick with it when it gets hard. I'm in the dream stage right now, and I do take to heart your comment to not skimp on the planning. I'm not ready to make concrete plans yet because we may be moving to another city but once that gets settled one way or another, I'll be ready to move forward.

And congratulations to you for being part of the founding of your dream school!
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#10 of 11 Old 03-12-2007, 11:51 AM
 
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good luck Ellen I bet you will do just fine! I highly encourage reading the usdbury books for sure, even if you dont open one. I would say now to read starting up a democratic school, I think is the title. Then my favorite as a parent/staff is Free at Last. Then I would go with puruit of happiness or kingdom of happiness My brain is faltering but I believe those are both about the graduates of sudbury schools and what they have done since graduating.

Oh yeah, one more advice LOL network network network!! Make friends with grant writers, lawyers, acountants etc. They will come very much in handy
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#11 of 11 Old 03-19-2007, 11:15 PM
 
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Thanks for the encouragement and advice. I'll check out those books. I had not even thought of lawyers and grant writers. I've got the accountant covered at least. You might see a post from me some time in the future looking for more help and advice though!
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