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Children learn how to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions. 

-Alfie Kohn

Children at  Shine are free to be the leaders of their own adventure, exploring a vast range of possibilities. Facilitators as well as specialists from the community can offer inspiration, classes, projects, and skills. Kids have the freedom to opt into or out of offerings as they choose. Learners are also welcome to host offerings and explore, play, and experiment with the materials in the space.

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Some examples of what a learner could do at Shine may include (but are not limited to) the following: 

  • Skateboarding                                     

  • Lego creating and play

  • Free play

  • Making music

  • Primitive skills

  • Storybook read aloud

  • Jewelry making

  • Gardening

  • Slacklining

  • Free Write

  • Social Activism

  • Crafting

  • Sewing

  • Dungeons and Dragons

  • Math puzzles

  • Graffiti Art

  • Pottery

  • Sand and Water Play

  • Math you use in everyday life

  • Tree climbing

  • Music recording

  • Poetry

  • Wood Working

  • Entrepreneurship

  • Blogging

  • Herbalism

  • Fantasy play

  • Aeriel Silks

  • Board Games

  • Letter writing

  • Electronics

  • Fort building

  • Painting


Facilitators help hold and shape the container that allows learners to engage authentically with themselves, one another, and the environment.  Their many roles include, modeling a lifelong love for learning, making offerings of inspiration, projects, or skills, as well as responding to the learners interests and need for support as they develop and follow their own interests and passions. Facilitators also help to uphold agreements among the group to uphold safety and respect for one another and the space.

Set the day

At the beginning of the day, learners are broken into two groups according to development, the roots group, approximately age 5-7/8 and the branches group age 7/8 and above.  A facilitator meets with the group to set intensions for the day and to share offerings for the day as well as to gather any requests from learners.  A schedule board is used to document these offerings as well as place and time so that it can be referenced by the learners. Passers-by can quickly gather from this board what’s going on when and where to go if they’re interested.


Offering Board

An Offerings Board, usually a large white board, lists possible offerings and opportunities. Facilitators, parents, resource people, and learners can post whenever they want to make their time, skills, or off-site adventures available to others. 

Closing Meeting

At the end of the day, learners return to their respective roots and branches circles to reflect and track their day.  For younger learners, this might be as simple as sharing a rose and thorn of their day.  For older learners documentation tools are regularly used to further support students in self-assessing their progress towards their goals, recognizing patterns in their time-management and decision-making, and deciding what—if anything—they want to change when they approach their intentions the next day.  These meetings create a feedback cycle through which learners grow in self-awareness.

Change Up Meeting

These meetings can be called daily, weekly, or monthly. Their purpose is to address or change up school culture. Participants bring “awarenesses” to the meeting. Maybe they are aware that paints are being left out at the end of the day and a facilitator is having to clean up the mess.  Or maybe a learner is frustrated with how other learners are participating in a particular game. The group brainstorms solutions and then picks one to try  it out for a short period of time. We refer to these trial solutions as being in “implementation.” The group revisits the solutions in implementation at their next change-up meeting; those that are working move from implementation to “practicing,” where they stay until they become an established community norm–part of the culture and the issue vanishes. If a solution in implementation turns out not to be much of a solution, it gets thrown out and the group implements a different solution. Learners also have the option to opt out of these meetings if they are uninterested, which means that they trust and accept the outcome of the meeting. 


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Location and Time

We are offering our property in downtown Sebastopol, CA, Southern Pomo Territory, for Shine to begin.  We live on 1.5 acres with coastal oaks and fruit trees.  We are in the process of creating both indoor and outdoor spaces where a variety of activities can occur.  We are planning to run Shine 2 days a week, Monday and Wednesday from 9:30-3:30. This allows families who are more comfortable with more of an unschooling approach to attend as well as more traditional homeschooling families to attend and use Shine as an enrichment.

Community Building

At Shine, we understand the importance of community support and building.  We want to create a community of families and learners.  We intend to offer events on a monthly basis including parent discussion groups, potlucks, campouts, and family work parties.  We also intend to have an open house where kids can share their projects and explorations with the community.

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