Wednesday, January 13

San Francisco Bay Area Independent Learning Options

This post came about like most others; when I'm asked about a topic a LOT, it's time to park the answer here.

Taking kids out of school to learn at home used to be called "Homeschooling" but for me, and a lot of the people I know, that's an unfortunate misnomer.  We didn't leave school to recreate it at home, and anyway we're not home all that much.  There's too much to do, see and learn out in the world, close to home and further afield.

In the last decade since we left the Brick and Mortar school system a lot has changed.  The local scene is barely recognizable.  There are learning opportunities for all ages and all interest using a huge variety of formats and delivery/connection vehicles.

Educator, museums, entrepreneurs and business owners have increasingly discovered that we're an actual market.  That's right!  Parent will spend money on their kids learning.  Some of us will do so even if it doesn't directly increase their chances of getting into Harvard.

So, here's a collection of just a few of the wonderful options for a la carte, independent or direct-to-consumer learning offerings in the San Francisco Bay area.  Of course there are so many more if include all the after-school and extra-curricular activities but in order to narrow the focus I've included only those which are available to learners during the hours when most are in school.

Various Locations or Will Travel:
Beyond the Box Learning - Writing Coaching/Classes (Royd Hatta & Shu-Hsien Ho (Mountainview but travel): Language Arts Tutors and Teachers)

Quantum Camp (Piedmont, SF, Palo Alto): Pioneering the micro-school customizable model.  Offering small group classes to independent learners during the academic year and summer camps off-season).  Science and math classes for Grades 1-8.  

Thinkering School (San Francisco, Montara): Classes and workshops that encourage kids to Think, Make, and Tinker.

The Tech Shop - (Redwood City, SF, San Jose) - The TechShop is a playground for creativity. Part fabrication and prototyping studio, parthackerspace and part learning center, TechShop provides access to over $1 million worth of professional equipment and software. We offer comprehensive instruction and expert staff to ensure you have a safe, meaningful and rewarding experience. 

Mathnasium: (102 CA locations including Burlingame, San Mateo, RWC, Palo Alto, Mountainview and Sunnyvale): Franchised Math Small Group Tutoring; more progressive feeling and fun than Kumon or other traditional tutoring companies.  Some locations have Homeschooling Hours (like the San Mateo location; if you go there please say I referred you)...if not, ask them to open a day up. 

Outschool:  (Various) Great Listing Service for Learning Experience Outside of Regular School

San Francisco:

The Peninsula:

Classical Living History For Kids - Classes and camps offered by a College Professor and Foothill College Dean of Fine Arts, Simon Pennington, who along with his wife, is also part of Palo Alto homeschooling family.   They are committed to multidimensional integrated learning, community building, and academic excellence through fun, applied, and engaging courses. Classes involve language skills, mathematics, practical physics, writing, art, and history combined into projects designed to emphasize the synthesis of all these disciplines. Their aim is to challenge the intellect through 'living history' classes helping to create a love of learning.

Riekes Center: (Menlo Park): The Riekes Center, in Menlo Park near Redwood City, is a nonprofit organization that offers programs in Athletic FitnessCreative ArtsNature Awareness and Student Services.

School of Independent Learners (Mountainview): One on one classes

Kidizens (Los Altos/Palo Alto): Social Studies through hands-on Lego City Building

The East Bay:
The Crucible - (Oakland) The Crucible inspires creative exploration and expression through welcoming, hands-on arts education and experiences for people of diverse ages and backgrounds. As an innovative hub built around the industrial arts, The Crucible is a catalyst for individual growth and vibrant community connections.

The South Bay:
Communication Academy (Cupertino): Communication skills courses offering instruction and coaching from professionals in Public Speaking, Debate, Writing, and Math Olympiad.

The Young Socrates (San Jose and online) - I don't have personal experience with this but it looks interesting. Uniquely combine traditional class-room teaching and live webcast classes with online self-paced content and one-on-one tutoring sessions. 

Academic Antics is a core learning and enrichment program for homeschool families.  Found in 2010 by families in San Jose.

The A-Team - A community where homeschoolers come together to learn in a safe and fun environment.

Rock-It Science - Fun science classes for kids and teens

Adventure Out - Adventure Out is California’s premiere outdoor school specializing in surf camps, rock climbing classes, backpacking trips, mountain biking, and wilderness survival skills instruction. Our mission is to share decades of wilderness experience while achieving our wildest adventures in the outdoors.

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