"Free Schools"? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 02-25-2007, 10:11 AM - Thread Starter
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I have this dream of starting a 'free school' in our area. Basically the way it would work is by starting a message board or blog of some kind where homeschoolers would post things like:

"Wednesday from 10-noon I will be hosting a bubble party. I will provide the bubble soap and materials to make different tools to blow bubbles, bubble themed worksheets will be provided to take home if interested. Open to kids aged 3-10."

and maybe someone else would post

"We will be reading Oliver Twist in the library meeting room every MWF from noon to 2pm until it's done. Bring a lunch. Open to kids 10-16."

I thought it would be a good way for local homeschoolers to share the load?

Does anyone have any advice or experience with this? Advice on how to start?

This came from the idea that I really wanted a homeschooling group but no one I talked to was interested in weekly meetings or rules; and then I realized I wasn't either. I want to be able to have the option of calling someone and saying, "Hey, how did you teach your kid fractions?" without all the politics around forming a group and meeting regularly.

I am not ready to dive in yet, i thought I'd bring it up in here in case there are factors I haven't thought of yet.


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#2 of 6 Old 02-25-2007, 10:15 AM
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#3 of 6 Old 02-25-2007, 12:15 PM
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Oh jump in
Yahoo groups works well and is free, and allows you to use the calender so that group members can see what dates are free. You can set that up and not tell anyone for a while, till you get used to how to operate the website and all of its options. Our homeschool group runs largely as an e-group, with real life events as people plan them. No rules except that we try very hard to play nice. When we started we were the only secular option, now we are over 100 members. In our group if you want to say,have a field trip somewhere, you set it up and invite others, there is room for sign up sheet in the database area of yahoo groups, and place the event on the calender. The calender can be set to send out reminders for your event or class.
So far our group has...
met up for homeschool iceskating
have weekly playdates, that move so that they are never in the same park
set up a group of volunters to help at the soup kitchen
field trips to a farm, the firestation, the airport
gathered enough interested teens to hire a theater teacher
the hs teens have also taken over the librarys teen commitee
and found a knitting teacher who is willing to house a playdate at the same time:

You could very easily do classes this way. And no pressure to have rules that say everyone has to plan so many events in a year...although as the group grows we are having pressure to become more "organized" but so far we have managed to resist. Good luck, have fun
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#4 of 6 Old 02-25-2007, 02:27 PM
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Our homeschooling group operates pretty much the same way. We have a scheduled monthly meeting and a scheduled monthly book club. But other than that things are set up on the yahoo group. We do parks, museums, puppet shows, herb farms, maple sugaring, nature hikes, all kinds of fun things.

I've studied a bit about "Free Schools". Someone from an area free school came to our homeschooling group to speak last month. The concept of a free school is that no one isforced to do anything. There are no traditional classrooms, no teachers. The staff is available if someone requests help with something. Usually older kids help younger ones. They play games, read, do art, build things. Basically whatever the kids want to do and the school has resources for. One free school I read about had horses so the kids could learn how to take care of and ride horses. Every week or every month they have a school meeting. Everyone in the school children and staff has a vote at the school meeting. At this meeting they vote on any rules that need to be put in place or removed, plan events, even decide when to pay the bills. The children all have the opportunity to serve on committees, such as the budgeting committee, or maintenance, or administration. Even the person who writes the check to pay the bills is a student. They are run as democratically as anything can be in this country. It sounds like a wonderful idea if you weren't going to homeschool. The students learn by running the school. They have a judiciary committee who is responsible for handling any disciplinary actions that must be taken. The kids study what they want to. And the staff are there to assist them in learning what they chose to learn. Kids will learn to read because it helps them learn about the stuff they are interested in. They will learn to do math because they will want to pay bills, or earn money or buy things. Kids will spend more time learning because it is what they want to know about. To me it seems a lot like unschooling only in a building.


:::Mom to 5 adult children and 8 year old, Dakota "Why do they call it homeschool, we're never at home?"
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#5 of 6 Old 02-25-2007, 03:59 PM
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I think the kind of "free school" the OP is talking about isn't a Sudbury/Democratic type building school thing, but more like an open network of community members offering various classes and activities, usually (I think) for adults-



I think it's a great model, and is very much like the homeschool group we belong to, which is fully decentralized and all the activities, classes, etc which are arranged are done by individual families who feel like it and plan them, and post to the email list, newsletter, and/or the group's wiki.

Unschooling mama to DD1, 11/2001
and DD2, 11/2004
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#6 of 6 Old 02-25-2007, 04:29 PM
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my homeschool group has something similiar to this. we have co-ops for different subjects (i.e. spanish, science, etc) and we rotate lessons through the parents. for example, i'm responsible for coming up with a spanish lesson one week for all kids in the co-op, making sure the lesson can be adjusted for each grade. i can create my own lesson, or i can order materials to create lapbooks (which is what i plan to do through hands of a child website), or i can get get a spanish guest speaker, make a spanish dish....whatever i want when it's my week. it's a lot of fun!

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