The short answer: the Sudbury model.
Back in early 2014, our oldest son turned three. About that time, Jen and I were between babysitters (we both work full time) and the subject of his education came up. Jen and I were in full agreement immediately; Brodie would not go to public school. That got us to thinking about private school (which was what Jen attended through High School) and whether that was the best choice for him as well. That got us really thinking about our own educations and what we did and didn’t like about them. We ended up with some strong feelings about the situation we wanted to put Brodie in.
- Space to Explore – We see our rambunctious, excitable, curious boy and we don’t want to curtail that in him. No sitting quietly in chairs all day and no staying silent for hours on end. We want him to learn by doing. Get in to things! Pull things apart and try to put them back together! Basically have room to be interested in what’s going on in the room right now, or be distracted by something else that makes him curious.
- Little to No Homework – We don’t want to have the time pressure of having to finish some random assignment overnight. We don’t want him to spend his evenings with another part-time job (assuming school is his full-time gig). We don’t want him to be forced to read books.
- Learn at Your Own Pace – Brodie is a smart, social, interested kid. He learns fast, when he wants to. We saw that when he wanted to learn to walk. He never bothered to crawl, just went straight to two legs. But, he did it when he wanted to, not when we wanted him to. We trust that when it’s time for him to learn to read, he’ll learn, and he’ll learn fast. Let’s give him the space, and let him go at his pace.
- Teachers That have the Space to Support, Not Police – We know teachers. We LOVE teachers. I married a teacher! But we also know what is expected out of teachers in a typical school system. We want Brodie to be somewhere where the teachers have room to support the kids, and aren’t spending their time having to try and break kids of their natural playful habits.
So that was what we wanted (and still do!). But guess what? That place did not exist in Charleston SC. We weren’t sure that place existed anywhere! So Jen did what she does best: research. And that’s when we came upon the Sudbury model.
It was on! Jen set up a quick website, started a Facebook page, and off we went to find people of like mind…