Our daughter is now almost 11 years and she has been unschooled for almost as many years. Well, truth be told, she went to pre-school for almost a year when she was 3 years old, if you can call that school. Since 4, she has never attended school and neither have we actively taught her anything at home – hence unschooled. Some parents teach their kids at home and follow some curriculum and they are labelled as home schoolers. But since about a couple month ago, our daughter is going to school. So from unschooling, straight to school! Yeah, I know that should come as a shock :).

Is it just me, or anyone else notice that it is April 1st today? But really, this is not an April fool’s joke, but then again, it is not the whole truth either. Actually she is not really going to school in the traditional sense. What happened was that a year or so ago, we heard about an alternate school from a fellow unschooler friend. At the time we did not take it seriously. Then a couple of months ago, another unschooler friend mentioned about the school and that their kids were enjoying the place. Since our daughter plays with their kid, we thought it would be fun to check out the place.

It is school unlike a school. Basically they have some structure like certain subjects are taught throughout the year, but the pattern is not very firm. Sometimes the time table is not followed and some random classes might happen instead. There are some usual subjects like math and science, but also a bunch of other subjects like dance, music, art, story telling etc. There is no library, yet there is a library class where the kids have to exchange their story books with other kids.

There are only 4 “full time” teachers in total, and each teacher teaches multiple subjects. So you can imagine if one of the teachers falls sick, a whole bunch of periods are thrown out of the window. Then there are another 3-4 part time teachers who come on certain days at certain times to teach their subject. Most of the time, the kids spend time playing with each other or working on something as a group. There are only 15 or so students as of now and some of them are planning to move to other schools, so we are not sure how long this school will last.

There are no tables, chairs or desks. The kids are either sitting or rolling on the floor or standing. There are a couple of boards and one dining table masquerading as an activity table for group activities. There is no playground, no stage. In fact, the whole school is as big as 1/4 of our house. Very small space really.

Knowing all this we still sent our kid one day to see if she would like it. That was sometime in December 2023. It was an instant hit. She had a lot of fun and enjoyed all the play time and almost no study time. Since she was going with a friend (her unschooled friend), she enjoyed it even more. We did not pay any fees at this point and remember it is the end of an academic year too, so it is like an odd time to join school. We asked the school if she could try a few more classes before we decide whether we will join or not. They were ok with it and she continued for a couple more days.

So, in the following 3 weeks we sent our daughter to school a few more times on random days to see what classes she might like. Eventually we found that she like a few classes on a couple of days in a week. Then we negotiated with the school that our daughter will come to school only 2 days a week and thankfully they made an exception for us.

By the time all these negotiations were complete, it was almost end of January 2024. So this arrangement is only for the 2 months that is left in the academic year. We didn’t really think our daughter would last that long in school. So these 2 months may be the end of school for her, but it has been fun so far. The not so fun part is of course the school fees :). It is three times as expensive as a traditional school! Anyway, money is not the point, but just saying.

To give you more context, the school consists mostly of unschooled or home schooled kids. The teachers are basically a couple of mothers and their kids (in early 20s). No principal, physical trainer, etc. It is run like a home school but not at any kid’s home basically. Every week they have some outdoor activity like visiting a park or museum or workshop etc. Some classes teach hands on skills like using a jigsaw or sand paper. Some are just traditional classes. Children of certain age groups are bunched up into one level (you can think of as class or grade). So our daughter is in the 9 to 13 years age group. All the children in that group get taught the same topic unlike regular school where kids are almost of the same age.

While they don’t have exams, there is something called year end assessment. Basically it is like exams I suppose but without time constraint or grades. Unfortunately for my daughter, they have assignments which my daughter dreads. One more reason I don’t think she will last here :). Anyway, as of now things are just going on. Lets see if she wants to continue the “school” after the summer holidays. The summer holidays are due to start in 7 days.