Open houses and open doors

On the heels of last weekend’s wildly successful Education Transformation School Fair, many participating schools and other alt ed programs are following up with open houses, tours, and special events for this week. In fact, the entire month of March is positively bursting with opportunities to get to know the people and places of Austin’s alt ed community—and find the right fit for your kid. Check our calendar for all the details. Here’s a preview:

On Saturday, March 2, visit The Natural Child Learning Community, a Montessori-inspired, nature-oriented preschool in the heart of Georgetown. The program provides a part-time, holistic learning environment for children between the ages of 2-1/2 and 5.

The next day, Sunday, March 3, head over to the 9th Street Schoolhouse in near East Austin to meet Caitlin and Laura, who place radical faith in children and, following the Free School model, offer guidance and experiences to develop lifelong learners. They have one immediate opening for a girl and are enrolling boys and girls age 5–12 for the fall.

Monday, March 4, is a great day to check out two South Austin alternative schools. The Whole Life Learning Center, part of the Self-Design network, is a two-acre school where kids age 5 and up work with mentors to develop holistic, individualized learning plans, honoring each learner’s physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual development. The Austin EcoSchool is offering a family tour of its "Edible Campus," where you’ll see students’ work, meet the staff, and learn about the school’s unique programs, including Game of Village. It is currently enrolling for ages 5–14.

On the evening of Tuesday, March 5, the Clearview Sudbury School will host a free talk and Q&A with scholar and author Peter Gray (who is also speaking in town this week at the SXSWedu conference). Dr. Gray, a research professor at Boston College who blogs regularly at Psychology Today, is a leading authority on the role of free play in children’s development; his new book, Free to Learn, will be officially released the same day. Clearview staff, students, and parents will be on hand to answer questions about this democratic K–12 school in Central Austin.

Friday, March 8, is your next chance to visit the Inside Outside School. Let them know to expect you, and you'll get the full tour of this community-based, intentionally small learning community situated on more than seven wooded acres in Pflugerville. “Teaching for Human Greatness” is their creed, and they’re now enrolling kindergarten through 5th grade.

And now for something completely different: On Wednesday, March 13, the Growin' Together Hands-on Afterschool Program will host a SXSW Youth Showcase, featuring some of the hottest bands in the 18-and-below universe. It’s free for all ages (donations accepted) and will rock the Austin EcoSchool campus.

After spring break, on Wednesday, March 20, join the parent tour of AHB Community School, a creative and collaborative educational alternative that seeks to cultivate authentic, balanced critical thinkers who are prepared for a life of learning and community engagement. AHB serves ages 5–12 in Central Austin. Be sure to give them a heads-up that you’re coming so they can prepare the best tour possible for you. Can’t make it that day? You’ll have another chance on March 27 and on other Wednesdays in April and May.

To stay up-to-date on alt ed events, make a habit of visiting our calendar and clicking on any listing for details. Much more is coming up this spring, with many doors opening to you and your children.

A school fair like no other

What's so special about the free Education Transformation School Fair coming up on February 24? Let me count the ways:

It’s about helping you find the right fit for your kid. Unlike many of the larger, generic fairs where schools compete for your attention, this one is a collaborative effort by alternative educators who know there’s not one right way to reach all learners. Ten schools, a preschool, and an after-school enrichment program have come together to let you know about their diverse array of educational approaches, all with your whole, individual child’s well-being as their focus. At each booth, your kids can join in a fun, hands-on activity while you talk with educators about their program’s unique approach and pick up information to take home. Here’s a preview of the participating programs:

It’s going to be a ton of fun! In addition to the children’s activities at each school’s booth, there will be  entertainment for the whole family. The multi-award-winning Singing Zoologist, Lucas Miller, will perform some of his most popular original songs beginning at 2pm. Hennakim will be on hand throughout the afternoon for hooping and henna fun. There may be a few surprises as well!

It’s in a beautiful place you’ll enjoy visiting. In contrast to the noisy, overstimulating environment of a typical school fair, this one may cause you to arrive home feeling less stressed than when you left. Soma Vida, a work/life balance and wellness center in central-east Austin, is a peaceful and welcoming place to spend a Sunday afternoon. If your kid’s energy (or yours) takes a dip, help yourselves to free nourishing snacks and beverages, including organic fair-trade coffee courtesy of our friends at Cherrywood Coffeehouse.

Did I mention that it’s FREE? Yep. And if you’d like to print out some free flyers with all the details to pass along to friends, you can do so here. Special thanks to Megan Zvezda of Om Girl Marketing for the lovely design. You can also help spread the word by sharing the event on Facebook.

It’s sponsored by Alt Ed Austin. I’ll be there to chat and help find answers to all your questions about schools and transformative education in our community. I look forward to meeting you!