A few weeks after we came to Portland, Joe and I went to check out the Village Home Resource Center. We rode our bikes to the NE Portland campus. As soon as we got there, and I saw moms and kids picnicking in the parking lot, children running around barefoot, some toddlers shirtless, and moms chatting and kids actively learning – I knew this was the right place for our family.
When my kids were in traditional schools, I tried desperately to be a part of the learning, I wanted to help in more ways than fundraising or making copies. I wanted to be a part of the education process. They didn’t want me there.
In Baton Rouge, after starting our unschooling journey, I found this amazing secular homeschool co-op, Mt. Everest. I loved FINALLY really getting to be a part of the fun all the kids are having while learning. We had 3 amazing semesters there before we left for Portland.
Now we are starting our first term at the Beaverton campus of Village Home. The concept of this school is so brilliant in its flexibility. You can take one class, or 5 days of classes/independent learning. You can use Village Home as more like a full time school, or you can be an unschooler looking for specific learning opportunities. Or, you can just join one of their teams, such as Mock Trial, Model UN, Robotics or Destination Imagination teams. You can get tuition discounts for doing community duty – or you can pay more and not help out at all, if that fits in better with your financial situation and/or schedule.
The learners (Village Home speak for the kids) can eat when they are hungry, go to the bathroom when they need to, wear shoes if they feel like it. There is no mandatory testing, no truancy, no grades, just loads of instrinsic learning. Director and founder Lori Walker explains, “What learners need most are autonomy and a sense of belonging so that their intrinsic motivation to learn will remain ignited, in and out of the classroom. When learners have autonomy, they show up willing and ready to learn wherever they are.”
Village Home meets the needs of the highly academically leaning kids (I know, I’m the assistant in the AP Molecular Biology class, *gulp*) all the way to the kids who will never willingly step foot in a biology class – and everything in between. The theater department is amazing, offering tons of opportunities for singing and acting. The active parents create the foundation for the programs to build on.
I love the flexibility to choose classes that start later. Our earliest classes are mostly 10:45 or noon!! I usually stay all day and hang out in the lounge, help out in class rooms, or just participate in the classes with my kids. That works well for me (I get a recharge hanging out with all of the energy that kids emanate). On the other hand, for moms that really need a break from mom’ing, you can leave the campus while your kids are in class.
I know many families, unhappy with traditional schools, that would be much more likely to homeschool with Village Home as an option. Class Dismissed documentary director Jeremy Stuart quoted, “Every city needs a Village Home.” I couldn’t agree more.