A Message from Erin

As a certified teacher, I’ve had exposure to various methods and philosophical approaches to education. I’ve always had an interest in child development and understanding how people can achieve health, happiness, and fulfillment, however they define that. When I was exposed to Self-Directed Education (SDE), it just made so much sense. We are born to learn and if we have a supportive environment, humans have the capacity to understand, connect, and innovate in ways that are truly inspiring.

When I got my first job as a teacher, I didn’t anticipate how hard it would be to create an environment where I could support kids in following their own curiosity in a public school. It took me a while to understand how the structure and systemic practices of public education make it a challenge to bring about the kind of changes I wished to see. Creating the ideal SDE school, outside of public education, seemed like an easier route to inspire change. Eventually I was ready to devote my resources to creating a learning environment that had respect for children at its core. I found others who shared my vision of creating a “school” and we’re so excited to share it with you.

John Holt once said “Genius is as common as dirt” and I couldn’t agree more. In creating The Barn School, I found myself wondering about various students I taught. What do we need to do to bring out the genius of my favorite ADHD student, Maiden? What does Karie, the sweet, sensitive soul who is diagnosed with anxiety need to blossom? What about Josh, the kid who experienced so much heartache in his young life that he couldn’t help but bring it to school? He was too distracted to learn or maintain friendships and lashed out, often getting “in trouble” with the principal. I thought of Luc, the most helpful guy who could fix any electronic device but felt ashamed because he wasn’t at grade level for reading. What would I have done to support Sadie, on the path to becoming an Olympic athlete, but missing school and feeling out of place? I thought of Antonio, in and out of the hospital needing friendship and a gentle pace to heal but finding school to be overwhelming.

How about all the kids who were bored. How do I inspire their genius? And I couldn’t forget all the kids who were sliding into the trap of approval and perfectionism. What do they need to develop their own compass? As the Barn School began to take shape, I realized, we all need the same things really; a generous dose of love, trust, and freedom.

Most parents passively send their children to school to be educated, but for the parents reading this message, this style of education is sure to challenge you also. Unschooling and peaceful parenting my own children helped me to understand the importance of trust and acceptance as key ingredients in a successful learning environment yet as far as I think I have come, I’m still on my own path to figuring it out! Recognizing the challenges that come with parenting a self-directed education learner in a world that doesn’t take children’s requests seriously is the main reason why we decided to offer parent check-in groups for any parents in need of support. We’re in this together!

In fact, if you are a parent looking for support in “unschooling” your child, or even have a vague interest in what that term could mean, I invite you to visit The Barn School and have a conversation with me. We welcome anyone who honors us with their curiosity, and I would love to hear where you are in your parenting journey. Who knows, maybe after we talk you’ll decide this is a journey on which we can accompany each other.
I look forward to meeting you and your family.

Sincerely,

Erin

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