February 26, 2010
there is simply no alternative to wildcat community freeschool. it offers 3, 4, & 5 day a week enrollment (perfect for homeschoolers!) in mixed-aged, ungraded, classes offered in the free-democratic tradition. this means it is up to each family to determine if the core academics (held tuesday, wednesday & thursday ~ so those opting for the 3 day/wk enrollment are still able to fully participate) are compulsory or optional for that child. enrichment activities are woven throughout the day as is autonomous free play with adult support and supervision. classes are intimate in size and very child-centered in nature, students develop skills based on their needs (both academic & social) rather than testing standards or classroom management techniques; for example, children are not confined to desks, rather, they primarily gather around tables. it is very friendly for high energy children who need the freedom to move around as well as understanding and support while they cultivate focus and patience. my son went to public preschool full time for 2 years and then was homeschooled for 2 years before enrolling here for 3 days/week. so far, the schedule has been incredible! he gets to have a consistent peer group and community to learn and grow with while still affording us time together as a family. he is required to attend the classes, and although he wishes could just play all day (*lol* i try to explain to him how kids in regular school only get short recesses between classes instead of the other way around, but he doesn't get how lucky he is) he always excitedly tells me about what they did in class. i really appreciate that the work is ungraded so he's not distracted by scores but rather really likes to learn. the tuition is an incredible bargain, with fees based on how many days/week you attend. many families commute from all over oakland (we even have one in hayward!) so carpooling is common ~ as are after school playdates/trades. a cooperative after school program was led by parents in the past & could be again if there was enough desire and motivation. regular parent meetings help make sure everyone is able to communicate clearly and there are a host of volunteer opportunities to help you integrate. their summer camp is one of the best ways to see what they have to offer and how well it fits for your family. additionally, they offer trial weeks (which can be arranged to provide a wonderful solution your child's spring break schedule in addition to giving you a glimpse if it would be a good fit) several events are held throughout the year (including the infamous annual 'spook fest' at halloween) that are open to the public. but you don't have to wait for any of that, check out the website & give them a call, even if you're just curious!
- submitted by a