How do students at LHC learn without a teacher, class, or curriculum?

Students learn by pursuing their chosen activities. And, of course, they often choose to play! During play, children hone their negotiation and problem-solving skills. They naturally push their own limits and are always working in what Vygotsky called their zone of proximal development: they are building on what they already know and can do to reach new skills or understanding. Facilitators share knowledge or activities with others who are interested, which may sometimes take the form of a class. A curriculum is not followed because it would limit and interfere with the natural process of learning. Deeper, more effective learning happens when guided and motivated by the student's own curiosity and enjoyment.

What does a typical day look like?

8:30 Student drop-off begins

9:00 Morning Meeting: Facilitators and students work together to generate the day's schedule of optional pursuits, ranging from spontaneous activities to planned-in-advance offerings. Any important announcements will be shared. Sometimes we play a quick game, which helps our community work and learn better together.

9:30-2:30 Chosen activities, offerings, walking trips, etc. as determined by the community.

11:30 Lunch: Students are free to eat from their lunch box any time they are hungry, but they will be reminded and encouraged to eat at this time.

2:30 Clean-up: Students clean their assigned area. All painting, gluing, mixing, cooking, fort-building, etc. ends at this time.

2:45 Closing meeting: Students and facilitators share their reflections on the day. Important announcements will be shared and we may close with another quick game.

3:00 Student pick-up begins

3:15 Optional after-care begins

4:30 School closes

Do LHC students really do what they want to do all day?

Students are mostly free to choose how they spend their time as long as it doesn't violate our community agreements and is reasonably safe. LHC facilitators also host classes, activities, and presentations based upon the requests and interests of our students.

Are meetings and chores required?

Students are required to participate in morning and closing meetings, as well as attend occasional community meetings. Meetings are necessary for our community to grow and function well, but are kept short so that students can maximize time spent on their chosen activities. All students are required to participate in the afternoon clean up and assist with basic housekeeping duties as needed throughout the day.

How do students learn basic skills like reading and math?

Children naturally become curious about reading and math as they pursue their interests. They want to bake a cake, build something, sell a craft, plan a party, or repair something. They see others around them use reading and math to accomplish their goals and naturally follow suit. Facilitators offer help or classes as the opportunities spontaneously arise or by student request.

How do I know if my student is "on-level?"

Because learning is a natural process, your student will always be on the correct level for their own development. At any given time, your student may or may not be on the level dictated by conventional schools for particular skills and knowledge, and that's okay! Much harm can be done to a child's confidence, curiosity, and initiative when they are expected to reach certain benchmarks by a certain age. Because each child is unique, their learning unfolds at their own unique pace in our Self-Directed Education environment. The process is less painful and more joyful than in a conventional setting, and learning is deeper, more efficient, and long-lasting.

What if my student wants to go to college?

As students identify their interests and pursue their passions, they eventually begin to think about what they would like to do as adults. Self-Directed schools like LHC allow students more freedom to prepare and reflect on this transition than conventional schools. Older students work on credentials or skills they will need for their approaching adult years. Facilitators at LHC support students in accessing resources or classes they need for this preparation. Colleges and universities regularly accept students from SDE schools who may not have traditional grades or test scores. In fact, these candidates often stand out because they are better able to articulate their goals and are already focused on their chosen fields, having had time for deep exploration during their school years.

What about discipline and bullying?

LHC does not tolerate bullying, harassment, or exclusion without grounds. Relationship building games and community meetings are part of our proactive approach to building a positive atmosphere and reducing broken community agreements. These activities are meant to encourage both students and facilitators to share issues they may have and empower them to work together to come up with fair solutions. Disputes regarding violations of our community agreements are arbitrated by a facilitator with all involved parties being allowed to present explanations and opinions in a fair and rational manner. Students may also request that a parent or adult represent them or speak on their behalf during these discussions. Possible examples of consequences for minor infractions might include temporary forfeit of a resource or activity, or it could mean the violator performs a service to the victim or to the school in order to right the wrong. More serious or repeated agreement-breaking may result in suspension or expulsion.


What about physical safety and supervision at LHC?

While they will sometimes make mistakes (don't we all?), children in our community actually do a pretty good job of regulating their behavior. Adult facilitators supervise students and assist them as needed while also giving them space and trust to make their own decisions regarding how they interact with the world around them.  As part of their healthy development, children are naturally active and have good instincts about their physical limitations. They progressively take on slightly greater challenges, wanting to run faster, jump farther, or climb higher. In doing so, they gain valuable wisdom as to how to move their bodies safely and effectively.

Do all age groups learn together?

Many experts contend that age-mixing is natural and necessary for optimum human development and it is not unusual for students of different ages to enjoy spending time together at LHC. Only in recent history have children been isolated into single-family homes and warehoused into large, age-segregated schools. Younger students naturally learn best from slightly older children, while older students solidify and synthesize their knowledge when assisting younger children. Most of our older students have younger siblings who also attend.

What about students coming from conventional schools or homeschools?

Children coming from other schools usually love the freedom to be had at an SDE facility like LHC. Some who previously had someone else decide what they learn or how they spend their time may experience a period of adjustment known as "deschooling." They may test limits, be more emotional, or feel bored. A period of decompression is needed to reconnect with their natural curiosity and drive. It is said that a rough estimate of the time needed for deschooling is one month for every year of conventional schooling. Homeschool students whose activities are chosen for them may also experience a deschooling period. Facilitators do check in with students who appear to be emotional or withdrawn and will notify parents if something seems amiss, but will not force students into particular activities or interfere with the deschooling process.

Can students with special needs attend LHC?

Students with special needs are welcome at LHC, so long as, with the available resources, they can uphold our community agreements and function as autonomous, independent participants in our school.