"Children learn how to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions."
Children at KindKin 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. Young people are also welcome to host offerings and explore, play, and experiment with the materials in the space.
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 first day of the week, there is a set the week meeting where the offerings and any scheduled events are shared with the group. 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. These morning meetings are also an opportunity for learners to ask for any supplies or get any support for their ideas around how they will spend their day.
Our Offerings 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. Sometimes these have a specific time but often they are offered at will or freely throughout the day. There will be no planned offerings for the first months of the new school year. This is a time best used to connect and get to know one another.
At the end of the day, we often have a closing meeting to touch on the day, share an awareness or discuss what plans we’ve made. It can also be an opportunity for learners 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 can be used to further support learners 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 can create a feedback cycle through which learners grow in self-awareness. This is the culture we’re working towards for the upcoming year.
These meetings can be called daily, weekly, or monthly. Their purpose is to address or change up Shine 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.
Location and Time
Our program began on Susan and Willard’s property in downtown Sebastopol, CA, Southern Pomo Territory. This property has 1.5 acres with coastal oaks and fruit trees, lots of swings, a 24’ yurt, plus a school bus used as a music studio. We are currently open 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.
For the 2023-24 school year we will be relocating to our new location at 500 N Main St., Suite B in central Sebastopol and running Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We are excited to grow into a new space and have an extra day together.
At Shine, we understand the importance of community support and building. We want to create a community of families and learners. Starting in the 2023-24 school year, we hope to offer events 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. We have lots of ideas for how to build an inclusive and meaningful community and we’d love your support to make it happen. If you’d like to be a part of a new community building team, please don’t hesitate to reach out!