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What is unschooling?

A child-trusting, anti-oppression, liberatory, love-centered approach to parenting and caregiving. It is also creating and expanding communities of confident, capable people who understand how they learn best, and how to work collaboratively to learn and solve things. —  Akilah S. Richards

In keeping with our commitment to our Core Values of children’s rights, autonomy, and self-determination, we practice and promote the educational philosophy of Self-Directed Education for people of all ages. Classes and workshops at Alder Commons are always optional, and we mostly host programs that have either been specifically requested by the community, or offered by a community member.

We provide support and services for young people and families who are enrolled in school, and also to those who practice homeschooling or unschooling. There are many different ways to get involved!

Link to this section Membership

Unschooling families can sign up to become Members of Alder Commons. Once you’re Members, you can use the space any day of the week between 7am and midnight.

Younger ​​Members who are 10 years or older may be present at Alder Commons without a caretaker if they don’t need significant support from Staff, and with consent from them and their family.

The first step to joining as a Member is to attend one of our upcoming Open Houses!

Link to this section Unschooling Co-op

The Unschooling Co-op will launch in the Fall of 2023, with a cohort of unschooling families who are looking for a part-time, drop-off program. This will be run by Alder Commons Members, not by Staff, and caretakers will take turns to provide coverage. If you’re interested, please fill out this survey by September 14th, 2023!

Link to this section Teens with Intentional Goals

Alder Commons will be hosting a weekly Teens with Intentional Goals (TWIGS) program to support young people who are looking towards their next steps. We hope to model this program after the TWIGS program that some Agile Learning Centers (ALC) have started, as well as pulling inspiration from the Liberated Learners model.

This pilot program would consist of teens who are interested in long-term intentional goal setting, who would meet with a Facilitator once a week to check in about their goals. If, for example, they’re interested in becoming an artist, want to travel the world, or want to pursue higher education, they would have a chance to regularly meet as a group to share their ideas, obstacles, and start preparing for their next steps. If interested, please fill out this interest form!

Link to this section Unschooling Chat & Meetup

Every second Thursday of the month, we host a Unschooling Chat & Meetup for unschooling families to chat, ask and answer questions, and build community. Hosted by Carolyn Groves – AC Member, seasoned unschooler, and organizer behind Portland Homeschooling Resources – this is a chance for new and experienced unschooling families alike.

Link to this section Upcoming Programs

A lot of programs are relevant to unschoolers without being about unschooling - see all of our upcoming programs on our calendar. Below are some upcoming programs at Alder Commons that are tailored to the unschooling community:

Link to this section Unschooling Resources

There are lots of other places in town (and beyond) practicing self-directed education, and doing amazing things!