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What kind of school is Chagrin Valley School?
Students and staff in our democratic school have an equal voice in deciding how the school will be run, from creating, modifying and enforcing the rules, to managing school spaces, to allocating money in the budget. All students and staff are members of the school meeting, which meets on a regular basis to create policies and make significant decisions.
Day to day operations and activities are managed by committees led by elected or volunteer clerks (student and/or staff) and made up of school meeting members. For example the kitchen committee would be in charge of managing use of the kitchen including the kitchen budget, and certifying members of the school meeting to use the space. If any person does not follow the correct procedures for use of the kitchen they may lose their certification or face consequences as determined by the judiciary committee. The judiciary committee (JC) is made up of a student clerk and student members of the school meeting who serve on a rotating basis as a jury. The JC hears complaints and decides on consequences for infractions of school rules. Other committees include arts & crafts committee, outdoor committee, building committee, etc.
See Sudbury Valley School or other "self-directed," "democratic" or "free" schools for other examples.
Below is a video from the school preview held in March 2016
A Self-Directed Learning School
At Chagrin Valley School there are no traditional classes, instead students may work on projects or choose to take classes on any subject. They may also spend a good part of their day in free play. Or they might participate in student committees that plan activities & determine certain policies.
Just as everyone learns to walk & talk on their own, schools following this model have proven that in the right, supportive environment, one also learns reading, writing & practical math by participating in everyday self-chosen activities such as board games, cooking, party planning & construction projects.
Learning through play is a term used in education and psychology to describe how a child can develop social and cognitive skills, mature emotionally, and gain the self-confidence required to engage in new experiences and environments all through free play. Key ways that children learn include playing, being with other people (especially children of different ages), being active, exploring & new experiences, communication with others, meeting physical and mental challenges, being shown how to do new things, practicing and repeating skills and having fun.
There are hundreds of schools around the world following this model, it is based on the way human children have learned and developed in society for hundreds of thousands of years, by learning through living.
A Democratic School