Saturday, February 06, 2016

Micro-Schools by Jade Rivera

In her new book Micro-Schools: Creating Personalized Learning on a Budget, you will get to know Jade Rivera: a progressive parent's dream in an educator and a coach. She has experience, expertise, intelligence, emotional connection, mindfulness, and best of all, she makes sure that children come first. 

I read Jade's book last night. As a homeschool mama and founder/organizer of a local gifted homeschool support group and coop, the topic of micro-schools is very important to me. It is one that I have tried to create on my own with my small community of dedicated homeschool mamas for a couple of years. It has not always been easy and I have only started to find what really works for us this past year.  If I had read Jade's book a few years ago, I would have gained years of experience in an hour. What a time saver!

I love that Jade shares her experiences (both good and bad) and even includes an "how-to" section. Here are some highlights of the book that speak to me of what Jade stands for:
"When it comes down to it, the programs are not about the lessons, but about the community and giving children the chance to learn on their own terms."
"Every accommodation you make, every chance to share power with a kid, will serve to enhance all of your lives."
"Moreover, given that many gifted children have highly developed needs for autonomy and control, the creation of a product designed solely to demonstrate learning can feel like a violation, especially if the product has specific requirements. They know what they know and see little need for demonstrating mastery for something as superficial as a grade or gold star. They crave individualized interaction with meaningful feedback that values their efforts and what they have created."
"Talk with your students— a lot— about what they like and do not like about learning. Ask them what worked for them in their previous placements and what failed. Do they see a difference between education and learning? Make this a collaborative process."
"Do not be tempted to hide your micro-school venture to avoid disapproving looks and ignorant comments. Get out there, loud and proud. Your future students need this. By taking a stand and creating the learning environment you know these children need, you could inspire many others to learn about gifted and twice-exceptional children."
"Along with monthly outings I suggest having a reoccurring presentation day. One morning a month or every other month ask the children to give a five- to 10-minute presentation on their individual projects or something they are working on outside of school. Parents and extended family should be invited to attend. Turn these days into little celebrations by bringing in treats and giving each student a small gift, like fun erasers or stickers with a card that lets them know how proud of them you are. I do not grade my students, so presentation day gives my students something tangible to work towards and a chance to show to their families what they have accomplished. Presentation day meets the need for accountability with much more integrity than a grade."

Are you a parent interested in alternative ways to educate your gifted children? Are you a homeschool parent to a gifted kid? Read this book! You will not only learn about the academic environment best for gifted kids, but also how to be emotionally connected with them. You will not only learn how to create a micro-school, but also how to make one that functions well. After reading the book, you may want to contact Jade directly. And you can! Here is her website and listing of services that she offers: 

When I first 'met' Jade, I was in awe of her awareness and passion for her work. And for the past few years, it has been my pleasure getting to know her as a friend and her work with gifted kids as Gifted Homeschoolers Forum colleagues.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this. One of the excerpts you've quoted resonated with me so deeply:

    "...the creation of a product designed solely to demonstrate learning can feel like a violation ..." I've never been able to put that feeling into words, but 'violation' is so perfect. My kids have never allowed me to fob them off with 'educational games' that fall within that description. At times it's been a challenge, and they've called on all my resources, but I'm so glad of it now when I consider how otherwise we might have found ourselves stuck with some boring curriculum designed by someone else's needs in mind rather than the unique needs of my individual children.