Workshop #13 Alternative Education - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 14 Old 09-20-2009, 07:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Workshop #13 Alternative Education

Welcome to our Thirteenth Natural Family Living discussion: Alternative Education; This discussion will key in on
Part 6 – Educational Alternatives from Peggy O’Mara’s book Natural Family Living.


Some of the topics we'll discuss are;


Chapter 22 - Alternative Education

School Choice
  • Charter Schools
  • Voucher System
  • Open Enrollment


What Makes an "Alternative School?"
  • Child centered approach
  • An open and unstructured environment
  • Interdisciplinary learning
  • A democratic approach
  • Multiple methods of assesment
  • Independent operation
  • A cooperative approach
  • A multicultural curriculum
  • Integration into the community

The Influence of Progressive Education
  • Reading: Whole language
  • Writing: Invented spelling
  • Math: A real-life approach

Multiple Intelligences: New Ways of Learning


The Educational Reform Movement


Montessori Schools
  • Inside a Montessori classroom
  • Montessori methods with older children
  • Types of Montessori schools


Waldorf Schools
  • Waldorf kindergartens
  • Waldorf elementary schools
  • Waldorf high schools

Free Schools
  • The Summerhill experience
  • Free schools in the United States



Choosing a School
  • Visit the school
  • Observe classes
  • Talk to the principal
  • Talk to the teachers
  • Talk to parents



Please join us in discussion on Alternative Education. We welcome everyone to share their personal experiences, what works for your family, your struggles and your ideas. This is an open dialog and we ask that everyone be respectful of others' opinions. Take what feels right to you and leave the rest behind. Please be respectful to all our members so that the workshop can be a place of meaningful and respectful discussion for all our members. If you have a favorite quote from Natural Family Living, please share it.

We would like to invite everyone to join us no matter where you are in your thinking or feelings. These discussions are meant to be nonjudgmental so please keep in mind when reading members' responses that this is a true discussion based on Natural Family Living and not a place to debate or criticize. For more ideas and information, please see our Learning at School and subforums.

We’re excited to offer this workshop and hope it will give our members a glimpse into the grassroots of Mothering magazine and Natural Family Living.

This workshop will be facilitated by Mamamonica, Mandib50 and Abimommy. They are here to guide the discussion and keep it on topic. They will occasionally post references or ask questions to keep the conversation flowing. Please feel free to contact them at any time with questions, suggestions or concerns. Please keep in mind our workshop guidelines and current user agreement at all times.

We are compiling a Natural Family Living Resources Sticky which we will update with each workshop. Please feel free to refer to it for more information.

Not all those who wander are lost 
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#2 of 14 Old 10-08-2009, 09:37 PM
 
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We are doing a free school part time after unschooling with DD last year.

For online support, I have been flipping between MDC's unschooling threads and school threads to fill in the gaps. We've had several transitions with DD now attending a school, yet because it is democratic and only part time, I feel like I am between worlds. Doesn't seem much like school to me as I actually have less control and influence even than while we were unschooling.

DD is also still involved in a homeschool theater class since she only goes to the demo school 3 days per week. However, once she got used to going to school, she wished it were more often. I imagine we will increase her time there next year and then she'd legally have to attend 5 days a week after that due to her age.

I will likely have to get a job if we want to send DD to this school more than 3 days per week. We chose to move to a democratic school vs. unschooling because DD is very extroverted and needed way more social time with other kids than I could comfortably provide. We have enough outside resources in our area for homeschool socialization, but I am an introvert and need down time. Meeting DD's needs was draining me.

Our new arrangement, though still in its infancy, seems to be something that will meet both our needs while fitting in with our educational philosophy. I still worry about math and stuff sometimes though. DD is 6 years old and read novels so I know she can learn what she needs, but sometimes I still find it difficult to accept it when most everyone around me is in the public school system. For now I usually just say she attends an alternative school and leave it at that unless someone asks more detailed questions.

I hope to get more involved in her school community as we shift further from homeschooling. It took me a long time to get used to being a home/unschooler, so it's been a big transition for me as well.

I'd love to see some alt ed discussions get going here.

I am a 40 year old unschooling, belly dancing, artist-mama of one almost 8 year old. I just had brain surgery and blogging.jpg about it a bit because it's just so surreal.
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#3 of 14 Old 11-29-2009, 05:20 PM
 
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anyone else? my ds is 3mo and i plan on homeschooling - i want to hear other mama's experiences.

Breastfeeding, delayed/selective vax, cloth diapering, co-sleeping, homebirthing mama to son River 8/10/09 and daughter Austen 10/13/11
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#4 of 14 Old 02-03-2010, 12:57 AM
 
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I'm kind of disappointed this thread/workshop never took off. We're into our SVS styled school by a few months now and things aren't seeming to be the very best fit. Not sure what we'll do next year yet. If everything was awesome, we'd probably be trying to find a way to pay for next year at the alternative school. But things are only mostly OK in my opinion. DD says she likes it there but then she also seems to have a lot of things that she's not so thrilled about the past few months.

At this point, we are likely looking to unschool again next year. (Starting summer actually - we never really make any distinctions between school time or other time since we believe in learning all the time.)

It will be tricky to get DD's extroverted needs met while not driving this introverted mama completely bonkers. I think it's doable, but I want more help from DH this time.

And I wouldn't say we're opposed to the democratic school, but I don't think it's the best fit for us at this time, especially because it's a stretchy money-wise.

We are considering a nature-based one day a week program for DD. She tried one at a retreat we attended and loved it. It might give me a bit of time to myself midweek and get her out with other kids and in the woods. I think that would be good for both of us.

We'll see what we decide later on.

I am a 40 year old unschooling, belly dancing, artist-mama of one almost 8 year old. I just had brain surgery and blogging.jpg about it a bit because it's just so surreal.
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#5 of 14 Old 02-03-2010, 06:36 PM
 
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My daughters are 2.5 and 8 months and we are planning to start unschooling and see where we end up.

My mom homeschooled me in her own until I was in 3rd grade, and then she put my siblings and me in a school-provided homeschool curriculum so that we could go to school band. I went to one semester of high school and dropped out and went to a community college and got my AA degree when I was 17. I would also just show up to whatever classes I wanted at the high school, so I went to band and drama for four years.

My sister went to school from 7th grade-12th grade. She really liked the social aspect of public school.

My brother went to a private school for two years in elementary school, then homeschooled until high school and is currently in a charter school. He prefers to be home, but wants more motivation then my mom alone can give him.

I think it is really important for me to keep my kids at home as long as they want to be. My 2.5 year old is starting to want playdates, and I am rather shy, so I am trying to find things in our community that will interest her.

I imagine that each of my children will have a very unique learning experience, I can't see how one method of learning could possibly work for every single person.

So that's my experience and take on alternative education. I love that there are so many options.

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#6 of 14 Old 02-17-2010, 07:04 PM
 
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My 7 year old attends a very crunchy small school that is a mix of different philosophies, if pressed I would say it leans towards Waldorf. It has been a wonderful fit for our family and really a miracle find for us. I started off homeschooling her until this year, I always knew I would homeschool, I homeschooled myself for high school. To say I struggled with the homeschooling DD1 is a understatement. She is dyslexic and I just could not teach her, throw in anxiety issues and SPD, I battle with her enough on other issues that I just couldn't do the schooling as well.


She has her own private language therapist that goes to the school and works with her 5 days a week there. There are several other students in the school that have similar arrangements, including a student that sits next her. She is never made to feel different, the teacher goes out of her way to make DD1 feel a part of the project even though her and the other dyslexic student are the only non-readers.


Outdoor education is a large focus of the school, they always go outside together for a hour a day to play regardless of weather. Each class gets one afternoon a week where they work on either community service projects or explore the wilderness that our area has to offer. Last week the entire school did a overnight trip to a mountain lodge to make snow caves, track animals in the snow, etc... The bigger kids, 5-8 grades were dropped off at the head of a trial a few miles away and they either skied or snowshoed in to the lodge. The 7/8th graders also take frequent overnight backpacking trips for 2-3 days in warm weather where they learn survival skills, study fire ecology hands on, etc... Ski days count as PE.

I have watched as DD1 has transformed from a shy, mute child who would hide under a table and refuse to speak to this child who runs all over the school, and counts a number of prechoolers and "big" kids as her best friends. I love that even though the classes are not that mixed, they are combined by two grades, so 1/2nd are together, the entire school is so involved together that she interacts with all these other children. After school started in the fall, one of the older students came up to her after school and gave her a Madeline doll that she wanted her to have, my DD1's name is Madeline. There is just so much more going on at that school then the regular schooling, and I feel so lucky that it is a option for us.

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#7 of 14 Old 02-18-2010, 03:05 AM
 
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I am hoping to find the money to send my highly verbal/social dd (2.5) to part time montessori this fall, and then to a small, kind of Sudbury-modeled elementary school after that (It's called "The New School" and there seem to be a few of those around, though this one is in NJ). I was a public school elementary teacher, and I must say I feel pretty shell-shocked after having an insider's view for 3 years. I hated giving grades, I hated the arbitrary scheduling of every tiny bit of the students' days. I thought about homeschooling, and was especially drawn to unschooling... but as my dd is getting older, she wears me out with her needs to be around other kids! She blooms when in a group, and I want to provide her with that opportunity daily in a meaningful way. She also seems to be a real free spirit, which I love, but a friend of mine who sent her own free spirit to school pointed out how they'll "Get rid of that" once she she gets to school. I am hoping to encourage it as much as possible.

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#8 of 14 Old 02-18-2010, 03:59 PM
 
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Originally Posted by tammylsmith View Post
She also seems to be a real free spirit, which I love, but a friend of mine who sent her own free spirit to school pointed out how they'll "Get rid of that" once she she gets to school. I am hoping to encourage it as much as possible.
This is the main reason we are interested alternative schooling and unschooling. I went to traditional public school as a child. I feel like my own schooling stifled me in many ways, just due to the nature of how the system works. I ended up being the quintessential quiet, good girl who got good grades but didn't really learn a whole lot. I was rewarded for not speaking my mind. And I was excessively shy to begin with. I don't think this served me very well. I was good at taking tests. The longer I was in school, the better I got at learning for the test, acing it, then flushing what I'd "learned." The exceptions were the things that really interested me. I did actually learn that material - because it was relevant to me. And I have learned so much since being out of that system.

I guess this is the main reason I am so attracted to alternative schooling. I do think some kids do very well and can thrive in PS. But I don't think my DD would be one of them. DH and I agree she would do OK. But we want her to be able to thrive.

We're still trying to find the right balance/fit for education. I really had hoped the Sudbury school would be a panacea for us, but it has not been. (I was really burned out on mommydom and homeschooling at the time.) I don't have a problem with Sudbury type schools. I just think this one is not the right fit for our DD.

We are looking at homeschooling again next year, but we'll have to really watch the balance of activities to make sure DD gets her extroverted needs met while I get my introverted needs met. Now that DD is reading so much, I think this will be easier, but we still need to be proactive.

So our adventure continues.....

I am enjoying reading everyone's points of view. I'm glad this thread is finally taking off a bit. I enjoy learning about all the different types of schooling available.
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I am a 40 year old unschooling, belly dancing, artist-mama of one almost 8 year old. I just had brain surgery and blogging.jpg about it a bit because it's just so surreal.
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#9 of 14 Old 02-18-2010, 04:03 PM
 
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One other alternative schooling option that interests me is cooperative schools. We did a co-op preschool for two years. First year was great. Second year was kind of take it or leave it.

There are two elementary co-ops in our metro area, but it would be expensive (for us - very limited budget) and we'd have to go into the city every day. So we're not seriously looking at that as an option at this point.

It would definitely be more adult-led than what we're used to, but I like the idea of parent participation and having more say in what goes on if we did choose to go to another school.

I am a 40 year old unschooling, belly dancing, artist-mama of one almost 8 year old. I just had brain surgery and blogging.jpg about it a bit because it's just so surreal.
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#10 of 14 Old 02-18-2010, 11:49 PM
 
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I was good at taking tests. The longer I was in school, the better I got at learning for the test, acing it, then flushing what I'd "learned." The exceptions were the things that really interested me. I did actually learn that material - because it was relevant to me. And I have learned so much since being out of that system.

I couldn't agree with you more here. I feel like I got cheated because all I learned was how to be a "good student." I was never given a chance to see what it was like to search for learning in every day experiences. I think that non-compartmentalization of learning is one of the things that draw me to unschooling. I just don't know if I want to unschool all the time, of that it would be best for my daughter. I really feel strongly that she would relish the routine and friendships built from a regular meeting place of minds, and I don't want to have to organize that all the time.

My dh is a video game developer who is launching his own company this year, if that has any success, we will hopefully gain a lot of freedom (no bosses, no set schedule, all we need is a good laptop and an internet connection!) If that works, it will be a dream come true for me. I want to do things like travel to Denmark to live and work on an organic farm with my family for a month (thanks to Mothering magazine's latest issue and that article about WWOOF)... or visit friends in India and celebrate Diwali... or go camping in the woods and get nice and muddy! Our goal is to make the world our classroom, and if that dream pans out, I could see us doing a combination of this Sudbury school and then unschooling on family trips.

Of course, that is just a dream at this point, so who knows what will actually work, but I guess what I'm getting at is that if I had one wish, I would love to take a buffet approach to education and take a little from here and a little from there. How realistic that idea is remains to be seen. I think the various schooling approaches can have advantages and pitfalls... for example, I am very interested in Montessori, but it seems like some schools can be pretty serious (and the only one in driving distance just goes to third grade). Waldorf interests me, but then I wonder if it is too nature focused (and we don't have one near us). I want dd to play with sticks and leaves... but her daddy is a video game developer after all this kid can use a Mac pretty well already! I, too am interested in what others have to say about their experiences with alternative schooling. Since we are just at the beginning of the journey, I mostly have ideas and plans, which are subject to change at a moment's notice of course (one of motherhood's major lessons for me!) I don't have any experience with any type of schooling except public school.

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#11 of 14 Old 02-25-2010, 02:52 AM
 
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Hey, great topic and workshop and although I might be a little late, I thought I would chime in...

My daughter is 2.5 and we are seriously looking into unschooling/homeschooling. I have looked into Waldorf and Montessori extensively as well. DH went to Montessori and had a terrible experience , so I don't suppose that anything I say will sway his opinion of that time in his life.

I have started bringing a mixture of Montessori and Waldorf principles into the home and into our daily lives and she really responds to it. It's done in a way that I introduce the activity and she rolls with it, however she likes (which is where Waldorf takes over from Montessori in our place!)

So, in the course of thinking about everything, I came to wonder about options for schooling...and I have a specific question about homeschooling:

I have often wondered if there is a reason that parents don't get together, like let's say five or six families, and share the schooling among the group. So, one parent would take charge one day, then another the next, in each home, or an awesome communal space that the group decides on.. One of the primary reasons that I am not even really considering traditional public school is that in my city it's a pretty dog eat dog world. 40 kids per teacher, lowest common denominator teaching etc.

Can anyone comment on the mechanics of something like this? Does it work? Has anyone tried it? Does it violate any rules/codes? Or is it just really hard to organize? Maybe it already exists in other forms? I like the PP idea of a "buffet approach"...

Thanks!

Lisa - Mama to DD (12/07) and now a DS (3/11)! A wonderful uc.jpg!
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#12 of 14 Old 10-01-2010, 12:46 PM
 
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Looking forward to this workshop!
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#13 of 14 Old 10-03-2010, 11:27 AM
 
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This thread has been dead for months. Perhaps because of the limited experience of the posters. So I thought that I would add my 26 years of experience with educational options other than public school. Although we have done that as well. We have home schooled under the radar (no private school affidavit or association with any brick and mortar school, whether local or long distance, the local public school district didn't know we existed), through a private Christian school, alternative Montessori based elementary school, home/classroom alternative public school, public school, independent study and charter school (our current choice). Our family motto is that while education is important, the classroom isn't.

Our method has been more child-led with respect toward history, science, and the arts along with a more structured approach to language arts (reading, writing, spelling, and grammar) and math. Our over all goal was to develop adults who were active and productive citizens. I would say that we have achieved that goal with our 3 girls and are on the way of achieving that goal with our son.

Chris--extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering, babywearing, co-sleeping, APing, CLW, homeschooling before any of this was a trend mom to Joy (1/78), Erica (8/80), Angela (9/84), Dylan (2/98)
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#14 of 14 Old 10-03-2010, 11:39 AM
 
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Originally Posted by chinupchamp View Post
So, in the course of thinking about everything, I came to wonder about options for schooling...and I have a specific question about homeschooling:

I have often wondered if there is a reason that parents don't get together, like let's say five or six families, and share the schooling among the group. So, one parent would take charge one day, then another the next, in each home, or an awesome communal space that the group decides on.. One of the primary reasons that I am not even really considering traditional public school is that in my city it's a pretty dog eat dog world. 40 kids per teacher, lowest common denominator teaching etc.

Can anyone comment on the mechanics of something like this? Does it work? Has anyone tried it? Does it violate any rules/codes? Or is it just really hard to organize? Maybe it already exists in other forms? I like the PP idea of a "buffet approach"...

Thanks!
We had a home school group of families. It evolved out of a group that had already been established. We were a group of families that all went to the same church and our collective children were all the same ages. So when one of the families learned about home school, some of us went to the work shop. About 5 of the families decided to home school for Kindergarten. By the time our children were 1st-2nd grade, there were 7 families who decided to all use the same unit studies curriculum, sharing our strengths and resources. While we didn't rotate daily, we got together every Friday where one family did the teaching that day and focused on one subject. We did field trips as a group. The adults had the support of each other and the children had built in group for those times when a group approach was better than one-on-one.

Times have changed and home education has different today than it was 20-30 years ago. We now use the charter school to fulfill that group experience with Dylan. We had a good experience with our first yer of charter school last year (6th grade) and Dylan decided to continue this year for 7th grade.

Chris--extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering, babywearing, co-sleeping, APing, CLW, homeschooling before any of this was a trend mom to Joy (1/78), Erica (8/80), Angela (9/84), Dylan (2/98)
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