What is the attendance requirement?
While there is no standard attendance requirement, the school’s primary focus is on building community, which requires that people be involved. It helps the community function better if participants let us know what their regular attendance routine will be. The staff also expects families to notify them by noon if a student is not going to attend school on any day that they are expected.
What age can students attend?
That depends on the child. Age will be considered on a case by case basis. Students need to be capable of self-regulation and self-care. It is also important to consider that while students are supervised, they are also given a lot of space. Some may have difficulty navigating this environment at 10, others might be ready at 3 or 4. Parents are welcome to participate with younger children who are not ready to attend on their own.
What is tuition?
The Real School AKA Dragon Valley is funded almost entirely by the participants (students and their families). We have made a commitment to students attending regardless of economic circumstance with the understanding that everyone involved will contribute all that they reasonably can. However, please keep in mind that the school has economic obligations. We ask that participating families make a contribution on a regular (preferably monthly) basis according to their own abilities. The standard is $100 for each week day of attendance. So, for example, folks who attend every Tuesday and Thursday contribute cash or in kind services equal to $200/month. We value all forms of contribution, including, but not limited to, money, time, energy, and materials. Participation and openess are key in dealing with this issue. If someone wants to be part of The Real School, that can happen.
What are the school’s hours?
The school is open from 9:00 AM to 5 PM Monday through Friday. We are open year round, though closed for some legal holidays. As with all things at the school, the community decides.
Is there any curriculum? Classes?
Learning and living are really inseparable. And learning does not require force or coercion, in fact, they are counterproductive. Anyone that has observed a child learning to walk or talk knows this. We simply support the learner’s process. We do offer non-mandatory classes at the request of participants. Classes so far have included art, science experiments, sex-ed, geology, biology, history, guitar, martial arts (homegrown version), math, Spanish, Dungeons & Dragons, piano, cooking, reading, current events, yoga, kung fu (less home grown version) and much more.
Who are the staff? Do parents volunteer?
We currently have one paid staff member, and rotating parent and other adult volunteers. All parents/caregivers are welcomed to volunteer and visit at any time.
Why do you have two names?
The older contingency wanted a name that would let folks know we were some version of a learning community for kids (a school in the new sense). The younger folk wanted “a cool name”; a name that other kids would like. After much conversation, it was clear that both groups remained committed to their original positions. It was both or nothing. That is the beauty of and the problem with consensus. All are represented, but the solutions are not always neatly packaged.
Students are expected to bring their own lunches and snacks and do their own dishes. We have a fully functioning kitchen where students can refrigerate, cook, and warm up their own food (staff are willing to help). In the interim, we will just have to make do.We are open to other suggestions about food if people are willing to present them.
The working group (composed of staff, volunteers and interested kids) meets Thursdays at 1 pm. These meetings deal with anything to do with the functioning of the school (whether philosophical or logistical).
Community members are responsible for cleaning the school. Students are expected to clean up after themselves and to assist with general cleaning. We also have a Community Cleaning Day one Saturday or Sunday a month before the Open Dialog on Education.