Is WoW a Good Fit for My Family/My Child(ren)

We’re excited that you are exploring the possibility of joining our WoW community! There is a lot to consider, especially if an outdoor self-directed learning environment is new for your family.

If you want to get a good flavor of what WoW is like, check out these Honest Stories from a WoW Parent. Or check out WoW in Pictures where you can see images from just 3-months of WoW activities.

Below are some key aspects of our program that are important for you to know as you think about whether this space is a good fit for your family/child.

  1. Outdoor almost everyday
  • We are a outdoor co-op, which means we gather outside nearly every day (we head to indoor locations on smoke days, some rainy, and for field trips). We believe being in nature benefits our collective nervous systems and cultivates and deepens our appreciation for our environmental ecosystems and the land on which we live and play.
  1. Self-Directed Education/Unschooling
  • We are a Self-Directed Education and Unschooling co-op. More info here
  • We are child-led, which means we trust children to guide their learning–focusing on their innate curiosity and interests rather than forcing them to learn specific subjects on a specific timetable. We provide support for their current and emerging interests and learning goals, and plenty of space and grace for those interests to shift or wax and wane, just as ours do as adults. We also offer opportunities to expand their experiences and cultivate new interests through play-based experiential learning. Our community and the world around us is our classroom.
  • We do not adhere to any particular curriculum and believe that learning opportunities are all around us. We do not tutor children in specific subject areas, though some children are connected with classes and tutors outside of WoW. If a child is interested in a specific subject area, they are welcome to bring those interests to WoW to learn and explore with peers and adults and we will do our best to support those specific areas of interest.
  • As adults and facilitators in the space, we share resources, support children in finding information, share our passions and interests with them via voluntary offerings (e.g. painting, music, yoga, chemistry, restorative justice) and conversations while on hikes, roller-skating, or sitting in the shade of the trees. We also take advantage of some of the amazing places throughout the the Bay Area through our weekly field trips.
  • Adults in our community are willing and committed to learning and unlearning our adultism and coercive “power-over” ideas of education as part of our community’s focus on Self-Directed Education (SDE)
  • When engaging in SDE in a community, we have ample opportunities for social and emotional learning (SEL). We support our kids to understand their feelings, express them in healthy ways, and resolve conflicts through a restorative approach.
  1. Values
  • We are guided by our core shared values of: Community; Collaboration; Child-centered; Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion; Freedom & Liberation; and Voice & Respect. Learn more about our core values here.
  1. Co-Op Life
  • We are a cooperative. That means that as a community, we are all committed to the successful operation of our program and to the ongoing creation and growth of our learning space
    • The program is run by parents, in collaboration with our facilitators and participating children 
    • Weekly family participation on the ground is required to keep the day open
      • Buy-out is an option for families with less flexible schedules
    • Beyond our required participation on the ground, we engage in a variety of ways:
      • Attend monthly membership meetings
      • Participate in community JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion) conversations
      • Prepare offerings 
      • Participate on a family job team (e.g. recruitment, fundraising, JEDI, membership)
      • Join field trips to provide additional transportation and/or adult coverage
      • Find, donate and/or transport learning materials for WoW
      • Support each other as a community (helping other families with pick up or drop off, covering participation shifts for each other when needed, setting up meal-trains for families who are sick or need additional support)
    • We use shared decision-making–including all voices, children and adults
    • Our Community Council consists of parents, voted on by the community
    • We are an intentional community committed to our collective learning and liberation
    • This is not a space to drop off kids and not engage with the broader community 
  1. Communication and Responsiveness
  • Most of communication happens via Slack, and checking Slack regularly is important in staying up to date on shifts in location
  • Paying tuition, responding to requests (especially from the Program Manager), and completing participation surveys in a timely manner is expected and important to keeping our program running smoothly 
  1. Social and Racial Justice
  • As part of our JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion) values, we have goal of achieving a minimum of 50% BIPOC identified children in our space to better reflect the racial demographics of Richmond, CA–the neighborhood and community within which we gather 
  • We are actively working to incorporate social and racial justice as part of our learning space, both for children and adults. See our JEDI resources here.
  1. Bathroom Use
  • Children must be independently able to use the bathroom
  1. Following WoW & Family Boundaries
  • Children must be able to understand and follow WoW and/or family boundaries (some gentle reminders are fine)
    • Some examples of WoW boundaries: communicating whereabouts–when going to the playground, bathroom, on a hike or anywhere outside of eye-sight of participating adults/facilitators 
    • Some examples of specific family boundaries: sunblock, not sharing food/specific food guidelines, wearing a helmet when biking
  1. Physically-Oriented Space 
  • WoW is a very physically-oriented and active space. Kids run, jump, dance, swim, hike, bike, rollerskate, climb, slide, balance, throw, bounce, and are overall very physically active everyday, all day.
  • Facilitators/participators will honor family boundaries but will not stop a child from climbing trees, wrestling, walking along narrow hillside paths, or other physical activities (as long as children are not hurting themselves or others) that some parents may find worrisome. We cultivate space to explore that allows children to learn how to trust their bodies and keep themselves safe. This requires adults to let go of their fear, worry, and anxiety about kids getting hurt beyond what is reasonable.