Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Luke Project

We are very careful about having students learn Bible from an academic perspective.  We do not force any of our students to be Christian, nor do we require that they memorize Bible verses or various religious chants.  Although the staff are all Christian, we try to give each student the space to question their faith and figure this out for themselves.  I guess you can say that the only part of our program that is NOT Sudbury is that we do have morning devotions with the students and we do ask the students to read the Bible from time to time. We see this as our way of presenting the Word to them so that they at least can be familiar enough about it to make an educated decision about their religious choices.   In honor of the Christmas season, students were asked to read the book of Luke and to do a creative project on their favorite part of the book.  To our surprise, they really got into it.  We did not tell them how to do the project, we just asked that they be ready to share it with the community on Friday, Dec. 16.  Students developed plays, did artwork, created display boards, etc.  It was so amazing to see them become interested in the story of Christ for themselves.  In fact, as a result, one of the students found a movie about the life of Christ, brought it to school and invited students to watch it with him.  The entire school wanted to watch it!  The staff was so shocked that these kids ages 4 to 17 on their own sat down to watch the movie.  They watched the movie with a deeper understanding and appreciation, we believe. One teen said, "His story is so sad!"  It blessed our hearts for them to see the story of Christ from a place of the heart and not some random head knowledge.  At the same time, we had another student who engaged some staff in a deep debate on why he does not believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  The staff did not mistreat him or judge him for feeling this way and they did not "argue" with him, but we listened to him.  His mom often says that she is so thankful that she found a Christian school like this, where her teenage son can work through his beliefs in a safe environment.  We as a school believe that it is so important that we give kids the freedom to choose Christianity for themselves.  Many grow up feeling so oppressed in the way they are forced to learn about Christ and they never come to a place of falling in love with the Savior for themselves.  We also have to get rid of that fear of "what if they don't believe?"  They may not!  God is in control.  We are only called to share our faith, not to oppress others into believing and that goes for even when ministering to children.  This Christmas we as a school celebrate the free gift of Jesus, freeing us from religious rituals, but freeing us to enjoy a true and sincere love relationship with God, through his Son.  This is what we hope our students come to experience, and even if they don't they will be loved unconditionally, even still.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

We Welcome Homeschool Students STILL!

We are still welcoming homeschooled kids of working parents to join our community at a very reduced cost, BUT we are no longer considering ourselves a Homeschool Center. We are a place for the homeschooled child to learn personal responsibility, time management, art, dance, living in a democratic society, PE, martial arts, self discipline and how to develop their whole person. They learn how to enjoy what we have to offer and then are able to pull away to do the assignments their parents have given them. I love watching one of our 8 yr old homeschoolers hang out with the girls, do martial arts, go to art, play outside and then pull away with her lap top and ask a staff member, "May I go to a quiet place to do some work?" Now she knows that she doesn't have to ask permission and she will just slip away to do her online classes. Kids feel SO good about themselves when they take personal responsibility...and she is only 8! We ask that all homeschooling parents who want to enroll their child with us, learn about the Sudbury model and come to understand why we are committed to upholding the free, self-guided and independent way that children should learn. Staff is here to gently support all children who come to us, homeschooled or those enrolled as full students in the school. It's so cool to watch all these different learning styles on the same journey to discover their purpose in life.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Bible within a Sudbury Context

From the founder: I want to attempt to show what the Sudbury model within a Christian environment may look like. I chose this model of education because as one being a Christian since a little girl and growing up in a church, I saw a pattern of kids growing up in the church and then as soon as they begin college, they leave the faith. I began to ask myself and God, "Why is this happening?" I thought they believed? They grew up in the church. Their parents are strong Christians!" After many years of doing this questioning and also wondering what would happen with my own kids, I believe God led me to the Sudbury Model. It was a total accident. Something I stumbled upon. Something that at first my friends and family thought I had gone insane. This week, however, I experienced something that made me realize what drew me to this model. A student and I sat down to chat this week. In his times of chatting with his schoolmates he had expressed that he was not a Christian. His friends tried to convince him to believe, but he wasn't moving (I love that kids have the freedom to discuss their religion as opposed to a Bible teacher lecturing them every day). I overheard these discussions. Other staff members discussed it too, but not in a way to condemn him. In his time with staff he has been allowed to share his lack of Christian belief and it was allowed. Some may say, "Oh NO! Don't do that!" Well, didn't we all have the freedom to one day CHOOSE God? Didn't we all go through the process of discovring Christianity for ourselves and defining it for ourselves, as opposed to just believing whatever mommy and daddy said? As adults we forget our journey. Why can't kids have the same right and freedom? Kids have questions! We need to let them ask those questions and explore them! Anyway, the student and I sat to talk this week and it was an awesome conversation. Come to find out, he NEVER believed, he said. He just went to church because he was forced to. I asked him how he felt about being at the school with all these Christians around. I asked him what caused him NOT to believe and how old he was when he realized that he didn't (he was 6). I only asked questions and let him answer. I did not try to indoctrinate or convert. I only asked questions to help me understand where he was and how he arrived there. I look forward to furthering this dialogue and I literally have NO idea where it will lead, but I am perfectly within my rights to listen to him, ask him questions and even share my beliefs.   I will say, that I do feel glad that he is in a place where he can openly talk about this and maybe through discussion, questioning, wondering, and adults not forcing their beliefs on him, he will choose Christianity for himself. Either way, at least he will feel loved unconditionally in the process.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A New Writing Class

I had a very interesting conversation with one of our young people yesterday. He shared with me that he was writing this 6 page paper for a project he was working on and wanted me to look at it. I read it and although his thoughts were great, grammatically it was way off. The traditionalist in me wanted to immediately start "teaching" him how to fix the paper. Instead, we read it together and I began to highlite areas that I thought needed "tweaking." From there we both end up having this deep discussion on how he along with his friends don't really understand how grammar works. They guess when to put a period, as opposed to knowing the exact formula to how that all works. I then shared with him how the majority of the PG County schools do not teach this and most students I've met from this area, have no idea how to write properly. It's so bad that PG Community College is often called the 13th grade because of the amount of students who enter there without the skills needed to enter college. In fact they cannot even enter regular community college classes without taking the remedial courses. So he and I are talking about this and he was floored. Mind you, I never cracked open an English book or started to lecture or handed out worksheets for him to do. We were just talking. He shared his experiences with schools and how they had not taught him to write, etc. He shared what he noticed among his friends and their writing. And we are just talking. A 42 year old educator with a 15 year old young person...just talking. Soon HE asks me (and not the other way around) if I could show him how to write. I told him I could pull some things together. I told him that he only has 2.5 years to get his writing to a point where he won't have to go to the 13th grade and he says to me AND I QUOTE! "Ms. Anika, isn't this school about students working at their own pace? I want to learn this and I don't think any of us who take this class with you should be able to graduate until we understand how to write." Of course I would not plan to do something like that, but isn't that just the coolest thing? A 15 year old student telling ME to teach him how to write. We are still growing and learning about Sudbury, but this is a classic example, I believe of how classes are formed. Instead of us setting out with a long list of required courses, we engage in these discussions with students in order to support them as they figure out their interests, etc. This is why when you visit us, it may seem like kids are just hanging out, but they are not. They are thinking and figuring out who they are and where they want to go and the staff is available to help them sort through all that. It takes a lot of patience and faith, but it really works. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Update on Rockville Location!

We wanted to give an update on our Rockville location. After much prayer and quite a few signs, we have decided take a very different path with opening the Rockville location. We are going to focus on the one school campus in order to create an even more stable school for the future. However, we are exploring several other possibilities currently:

1. Transportation: We are looking at establishing transportation routes to and from the school from the various locations around the DMV AND instead of opening other school locations-we want to open smaller homeschool centers around the DMV. This model of education is so precious to us and we want to make sure we are really taking our time to focus on establishing ourselves and growing in it. We'd rather figure out ways to bring more students to this lovely 8 acre campus, complete with pond, fields, basketball court, play ground and complete seclusion within a nice neighborhood (we are the only place of business back here) to grow and settle into this path we have chosen for education.

2. The Homeschool Center: On the other hand, we realize the great need for a homeschool center for working parents who want to homeschool. We also recognize that the philosophy of the school is not often connected to the mentality of the homeschooling parent, so we want to begin the process of separating the two into separate entities. We will continue to welcome those few unschooling-type homeschool parents into the actual school if they desire it, but we would like to set up locations of homeschool centers around the DMV that do not follow our current model. We also hope to provide a neutral space for families of all backgrounds, faiths, etc. to leave their homeschooled kids in a safe, nurturing, very structured environment (students in these homeschool centers will have to follow a more rigid schedule in order to insure they complete their assignments before the parents pick them up). Also the staff of these centers will not be teachers or tutors, but thoroughly screened/qualified caregivers and proctors as students independently work on assignments. Finally, we will help to organize the working parents into a co-op where they can work together to provide tutorials in different subject areas in the evenings and weekends to the kids who are in the homeschool center (just like regular homeschool parents do during the week day). The entire structure will be created to support the working parent who homeschools.

3. Locations: The Homeschool Centers around the DMV will also serve as pick up and drop off locations for students who need to be transported to the school campus located in Southern MD. Those students who are enrolled to come to our Southern MD school location from wherever they are in the DMV, can be dropped off at the Homeschool Centers. The transport will leave that location around 8 am and return around 5 pm. Parents can pick up their children at 6 pm. Those students who are enrolled in the Homeschool Center will remain behind after the transport leaves and go through their schedule, supervised by a Homeschool Center staff until their parent picks them up. We are exploring 3 locations for opening our first separate Homeschool Centers: Rockville, the Southern MD area, and the Baltimore area. Even though the school is in Southern MD as well, there still needs to be a separate location for a Homeschool Center there.

4. A New Name: The separate Homeschool Centers will also be called The Homeschool Haven. We are changing it to this, because we want this to be a place where every child and family feels safe to pursue the type of education that they want for their child. We are here to support and will provide guidance if you request it, but this is your journey and we do not want to intrude on what you feel God is calling you to do in educating your child. The Homeschool Haven is merely a safe space for the working parent to follow their educational vision for their child. The parent will be FULLY responsible for their child's education. We will just provide the safe space and caring supervision of your child while you work during the day.

We will continue to keep you updated as we progress to setting up these locations. Currently we would like to set up the Southern MD Homeschool Center asap. So if you like the new design of the Homeschool Center..I mean The Homeschool Haven... and want to enroll your child for this coming school year, please contact us. The separate locations ONLY will have full time (all day) students (no part time packages available) and the cost is $4800 a year for 12 months or $4000 for 10 months ($400 a month either way). The Homeschool Centers will also be open year round and only for students in grades 3 through 12 (or students must be able to read, write and work without being taught directly).

Friday, August 12, 2016

Learning to Fly...I mean Swim

Why is it that we are afraid to let our kids go free? We place so many safety nets around them, and yet we clip their wings sometimes. We keep them from progressing further and sometimes quicker. I started teaching my son to swim when he was 3. We placed him in classes and he just did not progress. He was bored. The summer he turned 4 we placed him in his final formal swimming class. After spending about 1k within a year for these "intense" swimming classes, we said enough is enough. The summer he turned 5 I just started taking him to the pool. He began to explore beyond his boundaries. I had his floaties on and then he told me to take them off. He was free. He was in the shallow end, but he was free. He was jumping around, letting go of the wall, putting his head under water and he was happy. He was free. Eventually, we found this guy who was a life guard who was willing to show my son a few things. He talked to Dillon, demonstrated things for him in the pool and Dillon sat there watching and listening. One day he said, "Mom I need to go to the pool now. I've been thinking about swimming and I think I'm ready." So I took him. He literally ripped off his clothes and just jumped into the pool and started swimming. By the end of that summer he was swimming in the deep end for short stretches. This summer he has taken it to a whole new level, he discovered on his own that if he just lets his body go, then he will float. So no matter how deep water is,if he doesn't fight it, he will float. He taught this to himself. Yesterday, as we were swimming a little 6 yr old girl had her floaties on. She looked at Dillon. She took her floaties off and came to me and said, "I can't swim, but I can float, see?" She showed me that she could float. In 30 seconds, while holding my 2 yr old daughter, I simply said, "Well if you can float, you can swim. Dillon show her how you move your arms and legs." Dillon demonstrates for her. IN 30 SECONDS that little girl was swimming across the pool. The grandmother runs to the edge of the pool and says, "She's doing that without her floaties??? She's never done that before. Thank you!" All she had to do was remove her floaties and try a little freedom. I was there to protect the kids, but I let them free and they learned to fly...I mean swim. Now enrolling grades K4-12th.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The New Rockville Campus!

So excited about our new and second location! Spread the word that The Living Water School and Homeschool Center is coming to the Montgomery County area! Now we have two campuses: The Living Water School & Homeschool Center South Campus (Temple Hills, MD-grades K-12) and The Living Water School & Homeschool Center North Campus (Rockville, MD-grades K-5).

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

David Would LOVE Our School

We are enjoying our summer but looking forward to a new year of freedom in education! Today I am thinking of those students who sometimes struggle in the traditional system. Maybe our school could work for that child? Here is a word I shared with a friend of mine recently: I used to be that kind of a teacher who prided herself on having perfect classroom management, until I had a child (my son) who just could not learn this way. I explained that if a child cannot sit perfectly and do their work perfectly, it does not always mean they are ADHD or behaviorally challenged. It just means that God designed them differently for a purpose. THEN God dropped this in my spirit. When Samuel came to choose a king for Israel, he went through all of Jesse's sons who looked perfect for the job. They were tall, handsome, well behaved, standing with their father like dutiful sons. But God rejected all of them. Then Samuel asked if there was another son somewhere and Jesse said, "Yes, the youngest son David is out in the field." When David was brought to Samuel, God said, "That is the one. Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart." David was probably the one who was out in the field daydreaming and writing a poem or song or playing on his harp. His head was in the clouds. He was non-traditional. He was different. When he went to fight Goliath, even Saul could not get him to fight Goliath in the traditional way. David was like, "Get this armor off of me! All I need is a sling and a rock!" And in his free spirit, he ran up to that giant and killed him with a stone and a sling! You could tell that he was not liked and people were irritated with him, because his brothers spoke unkindly to him. BUT GOD! Oh Jesus! God had a plan for this young man! He was the King of Israel, the Ancestor of our Jesus! That little wild child who killed a lion and a bear and wrote music and was just always out in the field someplace. God had a plan! He may not have fit into the traditional way of doing things, but God had a plan for him! If this sounds like your child, please stop spanking him or punishing her or letting doctors and psychologist tag all these labels on them! Realize they are different. Yes, train them in good character, but realize that God made them different for a purpose! Stop making them fit into the school setting that everyone says they should fit in and find a place where they can thrive. God has a plan for your child and maybe it is at the Living Water School?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Open House!

The Living Water School and Homeschool Center will be having their open house on Fridays, May 20, 27, and June 3 at 5 pm to 7 pm.  The school follows the democratic school model and finds great inspiration from the Sudbury model as well.  They are given freedom to direct their day at the school. 

Because we understand that homeschool families may have a different philosophy from the school, we have now separated the homeschool center from the school, with its own dedicated staff in order to make sure we keep homeschooled students focused on the expectations of parents.  If our number of homeschool families continues to increase, we will consider having the center at a separate location as well.  Once the students have completed their work, then they are free to join the activities of the school (homeschooled students are not required to participate in any of the school activities, but they are welcome to with parent permission). This program was created to help working parents who desire to homeschool,. Many of our parents homeschool in the evenings, weekends, year round.  You create the schedule that works for you and we just care for your kids while you work during the day.  We ask that parents give a list of daily assignments to the Homeschool Center staff.   We also provide advice, guidance and support if needed. Homeschooled kids are also welcome to take our non-core classes (i.e. art, Bible, foreign language, attend field trips, theatre, sports, PE, etc.). 

The Playroom is a free learning space where children ages 2 to 5 develop in their ability to independently make their decisions.  Inspired by the growth and development of the founder's two youngest children (ages 2 and 4), the Playroom was created in order to give young children the space to learn and grow independently without being tainted by the traditional educational system.  When the school first opened, her young children were just 1 and 3. They came to school with her and she hired a certified early childhood teacher to watch over them.  The teacher was given the direction to just let them learn freely, while they took part in many aspects of the school at their own choosing.  Amazingly, their learning, growth and development took place at a rapid pace.  They were sponges.  Her two year old is talking in full sentences, showing early signs of phonemic awareness.  Her 4 year old taught himself how to write his name and his brother's name.  They both began to ask "Why?" a great deal.  Her daughter taught herself how to put her shoes on the right foot, how to open her own juice box and so many more independent skills.  Her 4 year old asked to be taught to read (as opposed to forcing it upon him).  The learning that took place so naturally encouraged her to create a program for young learners, preparing them for being in an independent learning environment when they reach school age.   The Playroom is a program where the ages of 2 to 5 are all together in one large open space (at a separate location from the school), learning and growing naturally through play and exploration.  All instruction, resources and activities will be inspired by the children's curiosity and interests.  After watching the learning that happened in her two youngest children, who are vastly different from each other, the founder is a firm believer in independent learning for all ages, no matter how young they are.

We are going into our second year and spaces are filling fast for all of our programs!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The New Preschool Program

The Playroom (preschool program opening August 2016-year round)
Inspired by the growth and development of the founder's two youngest children (ages 2 and 4), the Playroom was created in order to give young children the space to learn and grow independently without being tainted by the traditional educational system.  When the school first opened, her young children were just 1 and 3. They came to school with her and she hired a certified early childhood teacher to watch over them.  The teacher was given the direction to just let them learn freely, while they took part in many aspects of the school.  Amazingly, their learning, growth and development took place at a rapid pace.  They were sponges.  Her two year old is talking in full sentences, showing early signs of phonemic awareness.  Her 4 year old taught himself how to write his brother's name before he learned to write his own.  They both began to ask "Why?" a great deal.  Her daughter taught herself how to put her shoes on the right foot, how to open her own juice box and so many more independent skills.  Her 4 year old asked to be taught to read (as opposed to forcing it upon him).  The learning that took place so naturally encouraged her to create a program for young learners, preparing them for being in an independent learning environment when they reach school age.  The Playroom is a program where the ages of 2 to 5 are all together in one large open space (at a separate location from the school), learning and growing naturally through play and exploration.  All instruction, resources and activities will be inspired by the children's curiosity and interests. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

THIS is No Child Left Behind

My first years in teaching, I found myself frustrated each year by not being able to reach every single one of my 32 students (sometimes there were more than 32 in my classroom). I spent so much time in my room trying to figure out how to make it possible so that no one fell in the cracks. Then one day, a veteran teacher listened to my heart ache and gave these words of "wisdom" to me (said with sarcasm): "Oh didn't you know? Someone's going to always fall through the cracks. You could never reach all of them." I was so hurt by this. The resolution in her voice, after years of working with kids. I remember thinking "How can I just be ok with a child being lost???" I have never ever wanted to be a principal or a school founder. My family and closest friends will tell you, my only ambition was to be a wife, mother and teacher. I love being with the kids to one...touching each other's hearts. That's where my passion has always been. When I was a principal or an administrator, I did not stay in my office. I was in the hallways, stopping by classes, even offering a theatre/music class to anyone who wanted to be a part. I just wanted to touch kids and not see anyone "fall through the cracks." The morning God spoke to me about starting a school, I fought him. I fought him for days. I kept hearing his voice. I kept telling him how hard and impossible it was and that I did not want to do it. Finally after days of this back and forth and a real pushing of the Spirit to do it. I simply said, "Yes. Lord I will do it. I don't know how. It is impossible. But if you are really saying to do this, then it must come from you." He did it. All glory and honor be to Him who can do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think! Hallelujah! He has done it! Not me. Not my experience or education. God used this little girl who hated school, who could barely pass school herself, to start a school with no money JUST so that NO child whether they are brilliant, artsy, sports obsessed, comedian, shy, sweet, mean, different, typical, seemingly not so smart, organized, disorganized, Christian, struggling in their faith, not a Christian yet,  Not a Christian or going to be (we are a Christian school, but the students must choose for is not forced), happy, sad, messy, clean, pretty to society, pretty in God's eyes, black, white, green, yellow, orange, in the box, outside of the box, half way in the box...every child can succeed and find the purpose God programmed into their DNA at conception. No child at the Living Water School will fall through the cracks. They may not finish in the typical way or at the regulated time of a traditional school, but they will get to wherever they need and want to go and we will help them.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Fight to Create a Peaceful School Environment

The first week of the school opening, I suspended my own 5 year old son. It was a hard decision. His little heart was broken, but as a founder of a school who seeks to create a peaceful, non-violent, bully-free environment, a standard had to be set immediately. My son is a sweet kid. He has spent his early years in traditional pre-schools and honestly a pre-school many times looks like a smaller version of a K-12th grade school. There is fighting, taking toys, bullying, etc. Children who start their school life in these spaces "learn" some survival skills. Children will tell you how unpleasant the typical school environment can be and to survive they have to learn to defend themselves. As an African-American educator, I have to be honest that many times this type of tough environment is just more common in schools that serve primarily African American students and I say this as one who has taught and been an administrator in predominately African American and predominately European American schools. I think it's just because although my people are so beautiful and awesome, we are a fiery group. I guess we've had to be because our life has just been one of struggle since the first slave set foot on American soil. My son had started to learn these "survival" skills as well and as his mother, I was determined to teach him to learn a more peaceful way to dwell with human kind. This is another reason I was drawn to the Sudbury model. For me, however, to bring this way of thinking to my community I had to set the standard. We have a judicial committee that is very active, meeting each day at 10 am, but any type of fighting or physical altercation is something I address directly. I am doing this in these early stages until students and community learn that any form of fighting is no way to settle a dispute. My son got upset with a student who kept teasing him. In response he physically attacked the boy and left the boy with a cut on his arm. The boy was 11. My son is 5. That gives you an idea of the ball of fire this momma is dealing with. The 11 year old was so sweet about it, even begged me not to suspend my son because it was his fault. But for me, a former principal of a school of one of the worst neighborhoods in DC has learned that "if you hit me I'll hit you" only leads to a very bad place (unfortunately parents teach their kids to live by this principal which makes it so hard for an administrator to stop a fight). It does not solve anything. Because it just feeds a cycle of violence. I am trying to teach our students the way of MLK who believed in peaceful ways to solve conflict. So when a student physically hurts someone, I do not ask why. I do not ask who started it. Whoever hurt the person physically is suspended (I have a similar way of dealing with obvious bullying). It is not a legal suspension. We call it "Time Away from School" and the students hate it because they love to come to school. But as I communicated to my son, I tell them that they need to stay home a few days and think of strategies to help them deal with conflict in a more peaceful way. It may seem harsh, but after 20 years in the school system, I feel strongly that fighting, bullying and all those things that are scarring our children must be put to an end and I believe that the Sudbury model has provided a wonderful framework for creating a safe, healthy, loving environment for that to happen within a predominately African American school. My son learned a valuable lesson that day, and has not had an altercation since (although he still likes to rough up his little brother...I'm workin' on that). Our school is not perfect as no school is, but it is a warm place where the students protect their freedom and their right to live in peace with each other. When you visit, the first thing they will do is introduce themselves and hug you. They'll talk to you and show you around and welcome you. Now if I could just get more races to take that step of faith and join us so that we can be an example of how even different races can live together in harmony, I would be so thrilled.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Christian's Journey to Sudbury

On this journey to establishing a Sudbury school, I (the founder) have faced many questions from the Christian community.  I am a Christian and a pretty conservative one at that.  However, in my 20 years of being in education and more than half of those working in Christian schools I must say that I am tired of seeing the same scenario take place.  A child of a Christian home, goes through school in this perfectly sheltered environment.  They memorize their Bible verses.  They participate in Bible class.  They go to chapel.  They obey all of the laws the school has set to "follow Christ."  On weekends, they go to youth group.  They go to church on Sunday.  They have family devotions.  THEN they graduate from high school and do some of the craziest things in college.  They have sex with whomever, whenever.  They run up a high credit card bill.  They get drunk WAY too much.  They experiment with drugs.  They decide not to go to classes and either flunk out or go on academic probation.  They change majors over and over and over until they don't even know who they are anymore.  I am tired of this scenario! 

The year before I opened the school I was faced with the realization that my son was turning 5 and would be starting his formal education.  I reflected on what I'd experienced as an educator and the countless number of young people who go through school, graduate and end up being on a path that the parents are ashamed of and making life decisions that will negatively affect them for the rest of their lives.  How could I provide an opportunity for my son to not only get the academics that he needs, but how could I help him achieve his goals?  How could I help him learn to make wise decisions on his own?  How could I teach him to manage his time, money and life wisely? I literally became afraid, because all I could think of is just doing what I've
seen other Christian parents do and hope for the best.  But I did not wan to play Russian Roulette with this!  I did not care WHAT he became when he grew up, but I just wanted him to be happy, to make wise decisions, to feel fulfilled, to be what he feels he was called to do, to be a law-abiding citizen and I wanted him to choose on his own to walk with the Lord.  I did not know how to give that opportunity to my son until I came across the Sudbury Model.  The whole set up of the model:  the school meeting, the Judicial committee, the right for students to basically run the school...allows children to learn to think for themselves. They think and weigh out the pros and cons.  They think before they act.  They think about who they are and what they believe. They think about how their choices can affect a community.  They think about others besides themselves! There is still a little bit of Russian Roulette in this process because they could still choose not to be a Christian, BUT they will not make that choice out of some empty emotion, but they will be given the opportunity to question the Bible and the tenets of their faith before making that decision.  Also, if after doing that they decide to choose Christ for themselves, then when they go to college, they will most likely be focused on who they are and what their goals are.  They will on their own (without mommy or daddy supervising them) walk with God, go to class, obey the law, make wise life decisions and so on. 

In giving this opportunity to my son, I am actually protecting him more.  In giving him (and my other 2 children) freedom, I am actually sheltering them.  The only way you can truly protect your child is to give them the opportunity to learn to think for themselves and in doing that they learn to become responsible adults...while they are still quite young AND without mommy or daddy standing over their shoulders 24 hours a day (because honestly that is just impossible).

Monday, March 7, 2016

Open House Week!

Open House Week is coming up On March 21-24 at The Living Water School. At this free event, prospective students ages 4 to 18 may spend a day with us (along with the parent if they wish to stay) and then there will be an info/q & a session in the afternoon with refreshements. We are now enrolling for the current year AND next year! Please call or email us to sign up for this! or 301-971-2619!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Internship/Volunteer Opportunity Available

Looking for an intern or someone who wants a volunteer opportunity for the next 4 to 5 months. These last 4 to 5 months will be an interenship/volunteer opportunity because a person REALLY has to be trained to know how to work in a school like this, but this summer will be part time paid and next school year will be full time paid....Great opportunity for a high school senior that is homeschooled or doing school online or for a college student that would like an entry level position and the opportunity to grow with us. Also great of a retiree who is looking to get started in a new career season. For those who may need housing, we will provide housing and food for these next 4 to 5 months as well. The person will mainly be learning to run the front office, but will also have opportunities to work directly with students. ALL staff have to directly touch the student's lives in some way.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Diagnosing Learning Struggles

A testimony:  I am really beginning to see that education is similar to the medical profession.  I once had a doctor (the one who treated me during my illness at 16) who refused to "treat" me until he figured out exactly what was wrong. He would only give me Tylenol to ease pain.  My mom would yell, "Please do something!"  And in his calm manner he would say, "Now Deloris, I am not going to just give her something.  I have to wait to see what is really wrong."  In this process of free learning, I find that it gives me room to really learn a see how they see where the struggles really are.  Sometimes people teach as if they are going to use a tic-tac to treat cancer.  They just give the students whatever and hope for the best.  Education should not be that way.  Each child was created by God to think and retain in a certain way...a very specific way.  It should not be like Russian Roulette.  To be even more clear:  I have a student who has always struggled with reading.  His mom brought him to me because no school was really able to help him improve (and LORD I pray we can be successful).  He had great phonics understanding...good comprehension, but somehow his reading was poor.  We placed him in his own group.  I talked to his mom and because he kept squinting when he read we had his eyes checked.  Nothing.  Mom and I kept meeting and discussing possibilities.  Then one day I happened to ask her "Does he read a lot?"  She told me  hardly at all.  Only when he HAS to.  So I realized that the problem may be as simple as issues with his fluency.  He just needed to practice reading fluently.  I had these old fluency drill books that I pulled from my stash and started working with him on it.  He immediately latched on to it!  Even started practicing reading and timing himself in his bed at night.  He came in to school  and said, "Ms. Anika!  I got almost to the end of the page in a minute!"  Then he starts to invite his friends to "race" with him.  He got to a point where he wanted to keep practicing over and over, competing with himself.  This all makes sense.  He LOVES sports. He's very good at them.  He is competitive.  We are still doing his reading assignments, but incorporating this, we are already seeing an improvement and it was simple to just stepping back and giving the student room to present the root of the problem to us.