This is a guest post from YesMyKidsAreSocialized. Her name is Elizabeth and she is a parent to three girls that are being unschooled. They reside in the Los Angeles, CA area. This is a picture of her daughter.

After a recent interview he gave while in Beijing, the news that Elon Musk of Tesla, SpaceX and PayPal created his own school for his children spread all over the internet.

My husband works at SpaceX, so I have known about this school for a while, but all my husband would tell me was that there was a school called Ad Astra that was going to be for the children of SpaceX employees.  My interest and curiosity had been piqued.

I wondered “What is this school he created for his kids?  Is he homeschooling them?  Where is it located?”  Since my husband was a dead end, I, in typical INTJ form (read: obsessive), became a detective searching for clues to solve a mystery.  I found out all the gossipy details through several reliable SpaceX sources and, through my interactions within the private school community in Los Angeles got more information about why the school was formed in the first place.

It is very tough to get into an elite private school here in Los Angeles. I’m sure it is even more difficult to get accepted to a private school in NYC, but it is still hard enough here that not everyone gets into their school of choice, regardless of how much money one is willing to throw at the school.

With only a set amount of slots available for each grade every year, unless you are a celebrity like Beyoncé who can get her kid into an exclusive preschool midyear, most parents of school-aged children find themselves on a waiting list. Then they must find a backup school for their child to attend while they wait to get a spot in their first choice school.

So why did this billionaire make a different choice for his children?

Elon had his boys enrolled at Mirman School which is a private school in Los Angeles. Not only is it difficult to get a spot in this particular school, but a prospective student must also have an IQ of 145+ as documented via psychological testing to even apply there. After wading through its rigorous admissions process and giving school a chance, he came to the same conclusion that many of us who are unschooling did. School is no longer appropriate.

It is a strange feeling for a parent to realize that they have a divergent child on their hands, and they can’t really grasp it until after sending their “special snowflake” off to school with the masses, blindly following social convention without any further thought or examination as to why this is. Once you discover that the burden of someone else’s schedule and agenda makes other areas of life difficult to work around, how standards-based education conflicts with your own view of what learning is, or your children start to despise school, then it can be a hard reality shock when you realize that something needs to change.

I’m sure it didn’t take long for Elon and his children’s mother, Justine Musk whom I love to follow on Twitter, to collectively make the decision to pull their kids from this highly regarded private school and try something else. So he withdrew his kids and kept them with him at work while he tried to find an alternative for them.

Having his kids with him for the majority of the day and observing that they could learn in a self-directed manner allowed him to determine that with the way schools are currently designed, no school could accommodate his children.

So how does a billionaire, eccentric, formerly bullied, and possibly-on-the-spectrum parent unschool?

First, by bringing his kids to work and letting them engage in self-directed learning in a SpaceX conference room, then recruiting a teacher away from his kids’ former school, purchasing a facility steps away from his mansion, and throwing buckets of money at the teacher.

Next, by selectively inviting some children of SpaceX employees and a few of his kids’ friends who are in an age range close to his own kids who can contribute to the small classroom/homeschool feel, and letting loose with all sorts of hands-on projects and experiments.

Finally by naming it Ad Astra, meaning “To the Stars”.  No grade levels exist at this school, and everyone learns based on their aptitude and ability versus a one-size-fits-all assembly line model, like one would find in traditional schools.

With a growing consensus among intellectuals, technologists, and futurists that traditional US public schools in their current state are becoming irrelevant, something needs to change.

As much as I respect the older progressive models of education like Waldorf, with proponents such as Alfie Kohn and many Google Executives loving to sing Waldorf’s praises, I hope to see more parents either begin unschooling or taking Elon’s approach through some sort of collaborative unschool-lite effort.

A Waldorf philosophy has its limitations. While vastly better than a traditional education, the benefits of restricting media and technology seem tenuous in the Digital Age. To use Elon’s example, if his kids want to learn about engines, an engine is acquired and brought to their school and they start to deconstruct it while learning how to use the appropriate tools along the way. It is hands-on, visual, tactile learning that one can use in their unschooling home.

I’m sure most of us do not have millions of dollars to throw at people to engage our children, but we can still find a way to give our kids the same or similar experiences. Unschooling offers the advantages of the older progressive style of education and, when infused with technology and a healthy self-directed approach, can create an optimal learning environment.

Unschooling is not just for the wealthy. Anyone who has a child with an innate and intrinsic motivation to learn, is an autodidact, is self-directed, or has the desire to explore, discover, and develop their passions can unschool.

You don’t need to steal teachers with PhDs from exclusive schools, give them a blank check, and then say “Here you go!”. Most areas have many places to explore, discover, and learn from such as museums, theaters, amusement parks, athletic events, the beach, the mountains, farms, and zoos. Even the good old-fashioned library can be your friend.

Do you have a child that desires to take apart an engine? Go down to your local pick-and-pull and get an engine, put it the garage or other covered area and let them figure it out. Does your child have a question that you cannot help with? Have them go to YouTube and search for videos on engines, or find a local resource who can spend some time with them while engaging them in the process. Discovery and curiosity can lead to mastery. Engage your child on their level and give them opportunities to succeed as well as to fail.

Which scenario sounds optimal? Sitting in a classroom learning about facts in a passive, recipient manner day after day to later be tested and graded on, or freely developing one’s curiosity and experiencing learning in a way that is both meaningful and relevant to the individual? Which is more significant for living in the Digital Age?

Schools cannot change quickly enough to accommodate the learning needs of each and every child. At best, schools will teach reading, spelling, and math, but the writing is on the wall for its future. Robots and automation are slowly taking over everything, including most jobs, and one must be relentless in the pursuit of knowledge and learning to stay even remotely relevant in the Digital Age.

 

72 replies
    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      Seattle is my kind of place, and it seems like unschoolers would fit in very well there, much like we fit in here in LA.

  1. jessica
    jessica says:

    Yes, yes and yes. I’ve met many families by chance who unschool. Out for dinner a bit late and who else is there? Another unschooling family with kids in tow. The parents explain how they spent the day taking apart and putting together a toaster oven. At the Art Museum at lunchtime and who is there? A boy and his sister with their nanny asking if we don’t do school, either. All of these people use the resources available to enhance what the children are exposed to. One mother recently said to me, “It’s amazing how quickly your schedule can become full without school.” Classes, arts, sciences, farms, camping, museums, fishing, and a lot of parents nowadays could care less about the social status that comes along with prestigious schools. Parents here are forming communities on their own, sharing resources, pulling funds, and curating kids days to suit their needs. There are so many options to give kids a bright future and I don’t mind Elon being the poster boy for spearheading an education revolution. People look up to him for being a visionary, so he can really help in this movement. Steve Jobs was appalled by traditional schooling, but didn’t develop much other than the idea to give tax money back to the parents and let them choose their education options. It’s all very exciting.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      ” parents nowadays could care less about the social status that comes along with prestigious schools. ”

      That is surprising to hear coming out of NYC! But I welcome that trend!

      “A boy and his sister with their nanny asking if we don’t do school, either. ”

      That is classic! What was your response?

      • jessica
        jessica says:

        It’s surprising to me too, but I’m 100% fine with it. Things in this arena are probably changing faster than we expect, especially for those with financial resources.

        As for the kids: Naturally, we said yes, then walked to the park and met their mother. Apparently, in their circle in Brooklyn a lot of the moms ‘unschool’ as they say (I guess we are on trend haha), until 5 or 6 and then put them in school. Which isn’t unschooling- it’s parenting, but she knew that. :)

        • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
          YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

          I am part of a few groups, where the parents unschool and then as soon as the child turns 5 they freak out and feel like they need to put their kid in school. It’s confusing. Are these preschool unschooling groups?

  2. Amy K.
    Amy K. says:

    Is there money to be made in the unschooling movement? I don’t think so but I can certainly be convinced otherwise.

    I ask because I’ve been reading a lot about AltSchool lately… a network of schools in SF/Brooklyn/Palo Alto and soon to expand because they just got $100 million in VC. They’re characterizing it as Montessori 2.0, and the VCs are excited because they see it as totally scalable. When there’s money to be made, things grow quickly.

    • jessica
      jessica says:

      There is a lot of money in education and perpetuating the ‘school’ setting (teacher salaries, administrator salaries). Private schools are increasing in enrollment. Altschool is just another private school. In the faq they mention using Common Core and every other standardized method. At 30k a year, they aren’t doing anything that revolutionary (that isn’t already happening in NYC, at least). Correct me, if I’m wrong.

      • Amy K.
        Amy K. says:

        Ftr I’m not for or against AltSchool, just gobsmacked by the $100 mil investment. Honestly their for-profit status seems like a huge difference. And the lack of homework, mixed ages, and non-fixed start time. But yeah, still a school.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      Is unschooling a profitable movement? I don’t think I can answer that, as it is a philosophy on how one educates their child.

      Innovation of course can be cultivated in an unschooling home or community and profit can be made after the creation of new products or delivery systems.

      • Karelys
        Karelys says:

        Because I’m not wealthy and interested in Unschooling I see how profit can be made by setting up Unschooling schools. There’s one type out there already. So anything that’s a different flavor of the same thing.

        I know a local mom who is a business owner, student-midwife, and mother of three boys being unschooled. For many of us who may not always make ends meet on only one income, the ability to pay for a rich and safe environment where kids can unschool is alluring.

        So essentially if Ad Astra had tuition. That’s how I imagine Unschooling can become very profitable. Obviously, the richer the environment the more costly so it would be out of reach for low income households. Even moderate income households. But that’s beside the point.

        • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
          YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

          To me, there is something disturbing about “for profit” schools in general. Most reputable private school institutions are non-profit.

          What is the name of the school you are talking about? Are you thinking of starting your own unschooling-lite school?

          • Christopher Chantrill
            Christopher Chantrill says:

            Sorry to disagree, but every school is a “for profit” school. Someone “owns” and is benefiting from the school. It may be the ruling class that wants to turn children into mind-numbed robots with its public schools; it may the the church that wants to indoctrinate children in the faith. If it’s a Waldorf School, Wiki says it is owned by the Board of Trustees, and no doubt despite the ethic of collaborative leadership there are leaders and followers, and “profits” in being a leader. If it’s Elon Musk it’s the personal profit from educating his children his way and not having to kow-tow to some private school.

            And as for your average selective “non-profit” college…

            The only offensive thing about a “for profit” school is the relative absence of hypocrisy. It actually admits it’s in the profits business; how dare it.

          • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
            YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

            Christopher,

            I don’t disagree with your assessments; however, I think the original question was pertaining to how one could monetize unschooling.

            Once one goes down that path the focus is less about constructivist whole-child learning, and more about how much money one can pay investors.

          • Karelys
            Karelys says:

            I mean, at a certain point things have to profit (monetarily) someone if you want people to be driven to make it better. I think that’s just the reality of life. If someone can make profit then people throw themselves at it to improve it.
            It can just be done ethically. The non-profit status doesn’t guarantee noble management and for-profit doesn’t mean people will be more inclined to sacrifice the education quality or well being of the student for money.

            I’m not planning on starting my school but my husband wanted to start something similar. Without calling it school. He hasn’t let go of it. I wasn’t so sure of it in the beginning. Maybe I couldn’t understand his vision so I couldn’t get behind it.

            The school I’m talking about is Sudbury. I’m sure it’s like low budget Ad Astra.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      On second thought, I do believe there is a payoff to unschooling. The “profit” won’t be realized until entire generations of children are going through a whole-child learning movement.

      Investing now in an unschooling movement could have a huge payoff, it just won’t be realized for decades.

      • jessica
        jessica says:

        This is to Karelys,

        We tried Sudbury. I liked the premise. The reality was a different story. I think Ad Astra benefits by the people around it: great minds and resources. Sudbury was a mess of emotionally disturbed children who were mostly kicked out of traditional school taking advantage of the voted in ‘rules’ system to bully other children. I liked the idea, but really, everything is dependent on who is running it.

        • Karelys
          Karelys says:

          I do believe that just like with anything, environment is what makes the difference. It breeds a certain mentality.

          And this is why I think Unschooling is so important. People who have a say in their work environment tend to associate with like minded and equally adept people. They want someone that will bring something to the table. With Unschooling, children get a say of who they’ll be around, therefore forming an environment that grows their ideas.

  3. MBL
    MBL says:

    “Which scenario sounds optimal?”

    I choose 2. Or is it b.? Or wait, is this a trick question? Will it be on the test?

    Great post! Cute photo!

    I wonder what the supervision ratio is per adult to child. I wonder if they are all called “teachers.” Do they have a chef? :D In September the enrollment will increase from 14 to 20, that could really change the current dynamic. I wonder how long they will keep the “school” calendar and model going. Hmmm, that is a lot of “I wonders.”

    It is so interesting in that they are going for a “one room schoolhouse” mixed age kind of thing, but they have a set of twins in 2004 and then a set of triplets in 2006. I wonder if the new kids will be in the same tight age range too. All of their children are boys. Are there many girls there?

    In the Beijing interview, I loved his response to the question about how long he will do this. It was something like a blank look followed by “well, they are still really young…”
    I always answer with “as long as it works.” It makes me sad that people don’t understand that you can change as needed. Not just between semesters or between grades.

    So many questions!!

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      I watched the interview, and around the 25 minute mark is when he discusses Ad Astra, and I agree, his look was priceless but his words were definitely good for diffusing the awkwardness. It was one of his most brushed up interviews I have seen, as he tends to not be that “great” of a speaker.

      In other tidbits, I know that they turned down a younger potential student because they felt the child wasn’t the right fit.

      Right now it is still small enough to keep it at the current facility, however, he is self-funding this “school” and I believe another facility may/may not be currently in construction.

      • jessica
        jessica says:

        I could see this working for us if the ‘schedule’ was completely flexible. As in, drop in and open from 8am-8pm, where my kid could pick up where he left off on whatever project he was consumed by. Also, meeting other kids for their projects etc. Kind of like a gym or museum: Basic membership, then add ons.

        • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
          YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

          That is the only way it would work for us too.

          The perfect unschooling school with a makerspace feel.

  4. Janine
    Janine says:

    We are homeschoolers … not sure what I would call our philosophy of schooling. I switch during the year but I am closest to project based learning. That said Los Angeles is a dynamic Homeschool community. In the county I think I have heard there is over 10,000 homeschoolers here. Pick any museum in Los Angeles and they have homeschool classes, homeschool day for free or a very low cost. There are so many classes geared to homeschoolers here that you can fill up every week with activities and you maybe you are not a HOME schooler anymore maybe we are world schoolers. That said, we know many of the kids that attend Ad Astra. They love it and while I would hardly call it an unschooled environment – it is very progressive in their teaching philosophy in a good way and challenges the mind to THINK, CREATE and imagine. I find it interesting that the ‘traditional’ schoolers aka Public schools are really just followers. They scoff at us homeschoolers but really they are interested and many of the Moms question me and find out what I am doing and then supplement. Ad Astra is just the tip of the iceberg out here in LA there is so much beneath the surface it would be staggering. Only can imagine what the bay area is doing!

    • Amy K.
      Amy K. says:

      Finishing up our first year homeschooling in Bay Area; honestly I find the community to be rather tiny. I must be missing something.

      • Sarah N
        Sarah N says:

        Us too, Amy. I know other homeschoolers are out there, but it feels like the community is tricky to connect with.

        • Sharon Ilstrup
          Sharon Ilstrup says:

          One of the reasons we left the Bay Area/Silicon Valley. Once my kids were ready to start preschool, I became disheartened with what I saw – worksheets, competition – just at the preschool age. I wasn’t interested in Montessori for the same reason. The homeschooling groups were few and not my thing. (this was 13 years ago) and I didn’t want to go it alone. We moved to Seattle and found the school Rob writes about (above). The school – The Attic Learning Community – was started in an Attic by 5 amazing women. Mammas that wanted something different for their kids. This was 17 years ago. Age 5-18 Student teacher ratio is 8:1. No grades. No tests. Our kids get into all the colleges of their choice – UW, Stanford, USF, Chapman, Colorado College, Rochester Champlain College, Rochester Institute of Technology, Franklin University Switzerland, Quest (Canada)…just to name (more than) a few. They also receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in merit scholarships. We fall under the homeschool umbrella because we don’t meet the hours to be public nor private. Kids go 3 days a week and have 4 months off in the summer. This works. Teachers come in to learn from us and take this knowledge into their classrooms. We are a model learning community. A 501(c)3 non-profit. All of this is wonderful, however, the heart of our school is the kids. You know this works when you see these kids graduate as whole individuals, true to themselves. Kids that aren’t afraid to ask the tough questions, take risks and lead the way. They are self motivated, life-long learners. If you are wanting to homeschool or unschool. Do it. Take the leap. Find others, like you. Form a community. If you are interested, you can ‘like’ us on FB as we post many articles and updates. We are revamping our website.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      World schooling is a separate movement where one travels across the globe with their children learning in different environments.

      But “learning in the world” is one way that I like to describe how I unschool.

      You are so right, the homeschool community is so large in LA that as an introvert it is actually intimidating for me.

      • Niecie
        Niecie says:

        OMG Elizabeth !!!!! This is soooo true. I am a FULL introvert and this causes me SOOOOOOOO much heartache and head butting that I fear that I will never be able to Unschool “correctly” (though Unschooling has been calling to me for years…I can NEVER do it/try it). It is VERY HARD for me and my son suffers because of it. So I force him to do some sorry excuse for Relaxed Homeschool as best I can and it is just a disaster because he is SOOOOOO not suited to worksheets (no matter how few) or any schedule. We just don’t do enough outdoor, extra curricular and as an introverted mom…I just NEVER get that “alone time/break” that we DESPERATELY need to recharge (which makes me very short tempered). He is 8 (going on 12), extremely head strong, bright, and high energy and am just dying here. I’m also here in L.A…..how DO YOU GUYS DO IT!!!!!

        • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
          YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

          I have THREE of them!!! :)

          Unschooling is freedom for us. Everything else falls into place and we take turns accommodating the extroverts in our family through various camp-like classes in our community.

          Our days are mostly self-directed which means I get time for my own pursuits every day. Can you find a group sports/art/performance activity he can participate in?

          • Niecie
            Niecie says:

            Thanks for replying Elizabeth. I will look into some kind of classes for him. He soooooooo needs an outlet for all of that energy (unfortunately…I guess he’s not very social either).What a horrible combination…a highly spirited, junior introvert. LOL This past year I’ve really tried to come to grips with that fact that…”Face it…you’re kids are JUST like you.” (and I think maybe that’s why it bugs me so much…seeing that introversion in them…like a mirror, not wanting to really play with other kids, sign up for any classes)…It BUGS me. I want them to be the cool Homeschool/Unschooly kids I see at the homeschool co-op we hardly ever attend…running around being silly and completely uninhibited, and self confidant. Mine (ages 14 and 8…both boys), while friendly and always receiving compliments on their behavior…they seem almost “snooty”, too mature and “grown”, like they can’t be bothered with kids their own age. Maybe other moms/homeschoolers don’t even notice it like I think they do..but it is mortifying to me!!!! Thanks for your suggestions…maybe I can bite the bullet and try Unschooling this year. I envy you and LOOOOOOOONG for that freedom too.

  5. HomeschoolDad
    HomeschoolDad says:

    Nice article. Rich people are catching on fast. I believe it will snowball very soon and many experienced (and proven) empty-nested homeschool parents will be hired by the ultra-wealthy to privately homeschool (which is different than “privately tutor”) entire families.

    • Emily
      Emily says:

      Back in the 1990s when my mom was homeschooling us, other families asked if she would also homeschool their children. She never was interested and she really didn’t take the requests seriously. It would not be far-fetched for empty-nester homeschoolers, young teachers who want to spend more time with their own young children, and other homeschooling individuals to homeschool other people’s children. I am not homeschooling, yet, but I have wondered about the possibility of lining up some “substitute teachers” for myself if I do end up homeschooling. Sometimes, you just need some down-time! I know this could be accomplished by taking a day off of school, but taking a day off while the kids complete a day of school sounds really great to me right now.

  6. sarah
    sarah says:

    The way he is doing his school, and how he got started is interesting. You know the only down fall? If your kid was able to go, and his kids decided they didn’t like your kid, your kid probably would not be invited back next year. :)

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      Lol! Definitely a downside for sure!

      The good news is that they are great kids, and all the kids are happy there. :)

  7. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I’m wondering if it really matters if Elon Musk or any other celebrity homeschools. Does the celebrity really care about the homeschooling process or is it just a good idea for their kids? It seems to me that homeschooling really flourishes in certain environments/communities (religious is a prime example). Certainly it can happen as a result of an initiative from a business. However, is it any more likely to happen within a high profile company than say another large company such as Kraft, PPG, Corning, or other mature companies and industries? Is there a magic percentage that needs to be attained before homeschooling becomes more accepted or will it always be suspect for whatever reason? I’m probably coming off as too critical of this post. I do appreciate it, though, as it raises a lot of questions for me. I really think the focus needs to be more on the kids rather than their parents regardless of how successful or wealthy they may be. Mr. Musk and other famous people can contribute the most to the homeschooling movement by remaining in the background and making work places more friendly to their employees’ children rather than standing in any limelight. If they’re contributing to the homeschooling movement by making it more possible for everyone else to homeschool their kids, then that’s where I’ll applaud their efforts.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      I personally find it interesting when celebrities are taking a non-traditional educational path when their children reach school-age, but I certainly don’t expect everyone else to care as much as I do.

      Also, I don’t think he was trying to get any limelight. This was a super secretive thing up until it was mentioned only briefly during an interview in China. There is no record of this school’s existence, so I don’t think that it is fair to say he is trying to seek any applause for his efforts. Most SpaceX employees barely know anything about Ad Astra at this point as it is experimental.

      I’m not sure why there is an expectation that workplaces should be responsible for the education of employees’ children’s education. Would you mind elaborating?

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I really appreciate them.

      • Mark W.
        Mark W. says:

        The attention that Elon Musk and his family receives may not be of his own choosing. However, he’ll receive it in any case. He may not have any intentions at this time to capitalize on his position in the homeschooling movement. That doesn’t mean, though, that later on his thoughts may change regarding homeschooling where he may find himself as a direct contributor or influencer. You don’t have to look any further than Bill Gates and his foundation as an example. I really don’t know and rather doubt it but stranger things have developed in the business world.
        I don’t have an expectation that workplaces should be responsible for the education of employees’ children’s education. I think it’s something that will happen as a hook to attract top leaders and performers from one business to another. It was less than 100 years ago that businesses provided health insurance to their employees.
        I believe love, faith and trust are three major contributors that need to be present for homeschooling to thrive. Any community that has them as being inherent and sustainable make them good candidates for homeschooling. I’m glad to see Elon Musk has taken a lead here. It’s a very fine line and important responsibility, though, to start a child on the correct path to learning. It will affect their learning outlook and habits for the rest of their life. Everyone has an interest in the future generation’s learning process for one reason or another. It can be directly, indirectly, or both.

        • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
          YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

          That is such an insightful comment, Mark.

          “I believe love, faith and trust are three major contributors that need to be present for homeschooling to thrive. ”

          This is so huge! I am constantly telling people new to unschooling that they must learn to TRUST their children. Deschooling is essential.

  8. Emily
    Emily says:

    Fascinating! Thanks for discussing Waldorf, too. My family is considering homeschooling and is looking at a Waldorf curriculum. I appreciate your thoughts on it!

  9. Nell
    Nell says:

    YesMyKidsAreSocialized, we are pretty close to taking the leap & homeschooling our son (with two full time jobs) next year. As one INTJ Angeleno to another, can you recommend groups or networks in LA that you’ve found particularly useful?

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      Wow, that is awesome! I would love to hear how your family is going to homeschool and work two jobs!!!! That seems very relevant to many people who follow this blog.

      As for groups, well, there are so many large and niche groups. East LA, West LA, Long Beach, as well as several in the surrounding counties. I typically search for groups that are inclusive and have at least a few other unschoolers. Face-LA is a good one as is Dragontree home learners.

      • jessica
        jessica says:

        She could do a full-time nanny.

        YMKAS, are you considering joining the ad astra movement?

        • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
          YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

          jessica, I have spoken with my school aged kids about ad Astra as well as other opportunities that have presented themselves to us and neither of them are interested in doing any long term schooling outside of our home. We look for short term opportunities instead. They know the trade offs and are pretty much adamantly opposed to doing something different than what we are currently doing.

          Maybe they will change their minds in the future but for now it’s been decided that we keep with self-directed learning.

    • Emily
      Emily says:

      Nell,
      Yes, please let us know how this goes! I am an INTJ, too, and I need to figure out how to homeschool while working at least part-time while my husband is in school. Would love to know what works for you!

      • Nell
        Nell says:

        We haven’t made the decision quite yet, but we have somewhat flexible jobs, and are hoping that with independent online study plus some tutors we could make it work.

  10. Karelys
    Karelys says:

    I can’t remember where but the idea of micro-schooling came up in the blog. It seems like it would be a good option for the kids who appreciate self-directed learning, like the company of others, but are not obsessive about a specific path.

    It seems like Ad Astra would be a more intense environment where purposeful and focused kids would join. But let’s say your kid is not focused on anything to be really really good but they still want and enjoy and feel more creative in the company of others but don’t want to commit to a school environment full time. Micro schooling seems like a good alternative.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      Microschooling would be a neat option where children could attend as many or as few days as they wished.

      Finding creative peers for my oldest has been very difficult. The neat thing about Ad Astra is that what is learned is based on their aptitudes and abilities, so it creates a good environment to find your peers if you are more mathy, verbal, science, artistic, musical whatever.

  11. Jenn Gold
    Jenn Gold says:

    Excellent. Nothing to add but to say that I I knew you wud do awesome YMKAS! Everything resonates with me… and I live in the caribbean!!! 24 hr learning and they beg for “school”. Then again, even supermarkte trips are “school”. Loved it thoroughly. A little preachy but in a good way. Highly encouraging and motivational.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      Thanks Jenn, I always love your comments.

      Jealous you are in the Caribbean! :)

  12. Emily
    Emily says:

    YMKAS,
    Is the microscope shown in the picture one your family owns or one your daughter is using somewhere else? We are not homeschooling/unschooling, yet, and when I see pictures like this I always wonder if families are purchasing this type of equipment or using it at co-ops, museums, etc. I have so many questions about the day-to-day aspects of this type of schooling.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      This is a picture of my youngest daughter in our office. We do own a microscope and several telescopes. But you don’t need to own one, you can rent, borrow, or find one second-hand. My husband is a mechanical engineer and we have lots of equipment around the house, most of which I don’t know what they are for. But we like having things that can be deconstructed and rebuilt by the kids. Lots of Legos too.

  13. kris costello
    kris costello says:

    Nell and Niecie, you had asked about homeschool resources.
    There is a Homeschool Conference in Torrance CA, June 25th -28th. You might find some good resources there.
    Also, I’ve had some success searching yahoo groups in our area for interesting homeschool groups to join.

  14. Aquinas Heard
    Aquinas Heard says:

    First off, props to Penelope for attracting such a diverse group of readers who are also able to contribute some really fascinating blogposts.

    I read this post with much anticipation. I’ve been following Elon Musk’s doings since his “Paypal Mafia” days. Many in that group, like Peter Thiel, had/have libertarian leanings (save Reid Hoffman, of Linked fame – he had socialist/communists leanings – if I recall correctly). Elon has been a hero of mine for many years (I just hope he does not go the Robert Stadler route). I’m sure many on here are aware that Elon was the inspiration for the way Tony Stark was portrayed in the Iron Man films.

    I don’t think it is that surprising Elon chose the educational route for his children that he has. Elon is a scientist, inventor, entrepreneur, and innovator. Each of these roles are very reality oriented. They rely on an evaluation method that only considers facts. It seems like he did the same thing when investigating the best approach for the education of his children. In this particular realm (education) he reminds me of Maria Montessori. Considering that Maria Montessori was first a doctor, it makes more sense that she came about her educational philosophy from an observation approach. Instead of starting out with the idea of what children SHOULD do, they came to their conclusions based on what children actually do – and with some idea of how a child’s mind actually works.

    I think this news about Elon and his children has the potential to have many positive benefits for the Unschooling community. For one, it is inspiring to see one of today’s Atlases buck the typical educational route. It also helps to bolster the credibility of child directed learning. It lets future (and current?) entrepreneurs know there could eventually be a market for child services and products for Unschoolers. As far as what services/products these entrepreneurs might offer, the particulars are not the most important aspect of this. This is (a recent facebook status of mine):

    The mindset of the child-related provider of a service or product, like science, should not be: every kid should have a basic understanding of science. It should be: there is a benefit for a child to have a basic understanding of science. How do I create a science service (or product) that is enticing enough that if a child had complete choice in the matter, they would still want to do it?

    This was a fascinating and excellent blogpost by Elizabeth. Nice job and thank you!

    Sincerely,
    Aquinas Heard

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      Fun fact: There is an Iron Man suit inside SpaceX you can see and when we give our friends tours we point out where the filming took place.

      I’m so glad I can contribute to the amazing community that Penelope has created here. Having like-minds to connect with is essential for me. I have made friends with some amazing people.

      Thank you for the kind words and awesome comment!

  15. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    Great article and great dialogue. I’ve been interested in Elon’s school and his interview for a very particular reason. He used my words when describing how children should be able to learn what they are passionate about and what they are good at. Yes, actually my words. Elton heard about my work with unschoolers and early college and flee me from SF to LA to interview to be his weekend educator for his five sons. I couldn’t take the job because I was still nursing my toddler but decided to take the opportunity to tell him about unschooling and how it could work for his kids. I didn’t even let him interview me. Instead I delivered a practiced speech about unschooling, passion projects, fitness, language, and music. I told him about my student that was selected to be a Peter Theil 20 under 20, and my middle school troublemaker F student who is a senior at UC berkeley at age 15 and thriving. He was inspired. Shortly after our meeting, he pulled his kids out of school.

    I am proud that I may have been part of the inspiration for what he is doing and excited about the media attention too. But I am also interested in the profit side. I have a handful of students I supervise in the Bay Area and LA but I would like a few more especially some that will work and play with and alongside my sons.

    I agree that the Bay Area homeschooling and unschooling community leaves a lot to be desired. The ones I connected wth were much younger than my children and others were too regimented.

    Would be great to have micro uin schools in every city or county. Any ideas for spreading the word?

    • Jessica
      Jessica says:

      Sorry about all those typos! I’m on my iPhone at midnight and just turned 40 so I can’t actually see what I’m typing. Hope you got the idea. Thanks!!

      • Bostonian
        Bostonian says:

        Thanks for the links and the information, Jessica. And thanks for making such a material contribution.

        I’m sure Elton doesn’t mind the typos.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      This story is really interesting so I checked out your website. Very cool!

      When you say you are supervising students, does that mean they are unschooled students and you facilitate their learning? Just curious.

      Thanks for sharing! Don’t worry about typos, it happens to many of us…would love an edit button. :)

  16. Kathleen
    Kathleen says:

    Have y’all met Dale Stephenson in San Fransisco?

    He’s an unschooled adult who started and is running UnCollege.org.

    I met him at AREO (Alternative Resource Education Organization), run by Jerry Mitz.

    Lots of alternative options being brought to life from global spearheaders during the AREO conferences. For example, Cafe Table learning, group blank canvas learning, group comradery building through physical collaboration and cooperation games–way before group work expectations.

    Also, Montessori community learning in home garages.

    KoolSkool home garage rental space in Portland, Oregon.

    Village Home for home/unschoolers in Beaverton, OR was just featured in the movie Class Dismissed.

  17. Jesi van leeuwen
    Jesi van leeuwen says:

    This is what we are doing here at Bellingham Community Free School in Bellingham, WA.
    We follow the interest and passion of the kids as well as sharing with them our interests and passions. Free Schools are this basic philosophy. What each Free School chooses to focus on makes them individual. But we don’t try to fit round pegs into square holes. AERO is a great resource for anyone that is looking for a learner lead environment for your kiddos.
    Peace!

  18. Tomis
    Tomis says:

    Thanks for sharing. Would love to share what we are up to with the Agile Learning Centers network. I completely agree that even the best progressive models Iike Waldorf are stuck in the past. We are focusing on creating an emergent and adaptive model for self-directed learning communities and a community of facilitators who collaborate around this important work. In just two years we have expanded to five ALCs around the world and are planting seeds for many more.

  19. Geeta
    Geeta says:

    What qualifications do you assume I would need to apply for a jobp ost at Elon Musk’s Ad Astra?
    -Founder Quistic Learning Center (No kidding!)

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      While I am not affiliated in any way with Ad Astra, my guess is that if they have any needs for teachers, any prospective applicant would need to be in the top of their field.

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