Navigate Another Way of Learning

Navigate Another Way of Learning

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In these stressful and uncertain times, creating a curriculum or new routine for your child may seem overwhelming. We would like to offer some of our resources and tips to help and support you in this new journey of education. Homeschooling does not just mean doing school at home, it can mean so much more for your family. It’s okay to let your children learn naturally…and it’s way more FUN!

West River Academy supports families from all walks of life. and accepts enrollment year-round. If you are needing advice or support you can schedule a consultation with our Director Peggy Webb, a 30-year veteran unschooling mom and founder of West River Academy.

We know you are all being a great source of guidance and support in your communities right now. We hope that learning about and being part of our worldwide natural learning community will help you navigate this new paradigm.

Enjoy!

A few of our favorite voices:

I’m Unschooled, Yes I Can Write

This blog is written by lifelong Unschooler, Idzie Desmarais. She offers an honest perspective on our current times as well as insight for the new unschooler. A must-read for families that are new to the term “Unschooling”.

Rock Your Homeschool

Rock Your Homeschool is an amazing website full of resources, tips and fun activities to do with your child. If you are needing encouragement and positive reinforcement on your homeschooling journey, this is the place to look!

Be Wild and Free

This is a great community for homeschoolers and their website is filled with great activity ideas such as nature journaling templates, morning routine advice, and they even host events around the country!

Homeschool Mom

The Homeschool Mom is a great website for new homeschoolers looking for resources and tips on how to begin their homeschooling journey, and information help to decide what method will work best for their family.

Survival Mom

Survival Mom is a blog website with great articles and tips for how to prepare your family for a pandemic. She is full of practical advice even if you are not searching for survival tips!

WRA Graduate Shares an Update

WRA Graduate Shares an Update

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I graduated from West River Academy in 2013. Since then, I have completed a Bachelors and Masters degree in Applied Mathematics at the University of Colorado at Boulder and will be pursuing a Doctorate in Computational and Applied Mathematics at the University of Texas at Austin in the fall. Additionally, I received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to support my graduate education. I believe that my nontraditional pre-college education as a homeschooler with West River Academy was significant in the formation of several skills that have served me well since graduation.

Much of the academic success I have encountered is due to self-motivated, curiosity-driven learning. I had the good fortune to be heavily involved in undergraduate research in Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, primarily Oceanography, during my time at CU Boulder. The process of research, with its lack of a higher authority to reveal the correct answer, is very much akin to the free-form style of my education before college. Therefore, I recommend this educational style without any reservations. More than anything else, my pre-college education as a homeschooler helped me to develop a love of learning and an intrinsic locus of motivation.

~ William, Class of 2013

~Photo Contest 2019~

~Photo Contest 2019~

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Dear families of West River Academy,

We could not be more thrilled, honored, and downright AMAZED by the photos submitted for our Photo Contest! Families all over the world have submitted their photos, and we have received more than we could possibly display.

Please take a look at these images as a whole; representing the collective childhoods that are being savored by courageous and resilient parents world-wide.

Finding educational freedom is a journey that is unique to each person and there is no ONE correct way to do it. By allowing your children to learn naturally, you are helping them grow into confident, happy and thriving young adults!

 

Isaac Loves Learning: A Year End Report

Isaac Loves Learning: A Year End Report

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“I love being homeschooled.” Those words make it all worthwhile.
~ Barb, WRA mom, Colorado USA

We love seeing our West River Academy families thrive! No matter what educational journey you are on, we want to see you and your children happy, healthy, and loving their freedom! .

This year we completed our third year of Classical Conversations, supplemented by a variety of curricula, activities, and events. We are enjoying our time together and making changes in teach methods as we work together.

The goals we have for our home(school):

  • Encourage Isaac to be at or above grade level.
  • Help Isaac maintain a love of learning.

The values we have in our home(school):

  • Kindness above all else
  • Protect and care for those who need it (younger children, animals, elders)
  • Grow an awareness that he can do anything he wants or needs to do if he is willing to work hard.
  • Have integrity; do what is right whether it is easy or not.

Field Trips This Year:

  • History Reenactment
  • School of Mines Geology Museum
  • History Museum of Golden
  • Denver Zoo
  • Denver Aquarium
  • Denver Capital
  • Denver Museum of Nature and Science
  • Longmont Humane Society
  • Garden of the Gods
  • Denver Art Museum
  • Denver Library
  • Jim Hamm Nature Preserve
  • Butterfly Pavilion
  • Chick hatching at the public library

Family Fun:

We have been playing a lot of board games (Isaac is great at Chess), doing legos together, reading aloud, archery, walks, hikes, bike rides. We have a mini-farm (guinea pigs, 3 cats, 1 dog, 3 fish, 3 hermit crabs) that Isaac helps care for.

Highlights:

We are very proud of Isaac for many reasons, but some highlights included:

  • Caring for the younger children at the Classical Conversations after-care program. Isaac was never asked to help the younger children, but he could be counted on to look out for them. He played with them, helped them get snacks, drinks, etc, and hugged them when they were sad.
  • Several times this year Isaac has stood up for other kids who were being hurt by others or who were just sad. He also has started standing up more for himself with bossy or rude peers.
  • Standing up for animals when some peers were joking about doing cruel things to animals
  • Persevering with the things that are hard for him, such as handwriting.

Read more on their personal blog!
https://isaacloveslearning.wordpress.com

Congratulations to our Class of 2019!

Congratulations to our Class of 2019!

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As our academic year of 2018 – 2019 comes to a close, we would like to give out a heartfelt CONGRATULATIONS to our graduates!

Our students have had the educational freedom to pursue an array of incredible opportunities that have led to careers in music production, film/TV industry, professional sports, graphic design, animation production, coding/java creation, drone-racing, environmental projects, sustainability, social entrepreneurship and much more!

For those who have chosen to pursue higher education, we have compiled a list of colleges that our students have been accepted into:

  • Albertson College of Idaho
  • Arizona State University
  • Bellevue University
  • Benedictine College
  • Boise Bible College
  • Boise State University
  • California Baptist University
  • Chichester College, England
  • Clark University
  • Cleveland Institute of Music
  • Colorado Mesa University
  • Colorado Mountain College
  • Colorado Northwest Community College
  • Colorado State University
  • Felician University, New Jersey
  • Florida State College, Jacksonville
  • George Mason University
  • Lees-McRae College
  • Michigan Technological University
  • Naropa University, Texas
  • Northwood University, Texas
  • Quinnipac University
  • Regent University, West Virginia
  • Saddleback College, California
  • Santa Fe Community College, Florida
  • School of Art Institute, Chicago
  • Stanford University
  • Summit Christian College
  • University of Arizona
  • University of Colorado, Boulder
  • University of Denver
  • University of Derby
  • University of Hawaii
  • University of Maine
  • University of New Hampshire
  • University of St. Andrews, Scotland
  • US Air Force
  • US Army
  • US Marine Corps
  • US Navy
  • Wentworth Military Academy
  • West Virginia University
  • Wheaton College

We are so fortunate to be able to assist families in making their own educational decisions, free from outside mandates. We encourage parents to take charge of their children’s education and help them grow into confident, happy, and thriving young adults!

Dear Peggy

I want to express my deepest gratitude to West River Academy! About four years ago you signed a Student Learner agreement so that my son Dillon could work at Bennett Forge Works. Last Fall Dillon moved to Fort Collins and now works for Distinctive Welding. I just visited him there. He loves what he is doing and is just cranking out projects. They give him the plans and he builds it and installs it. He is being successful out in the world, doing what he loves and living with three college friends.

Thank you West River Academy for the freedom to trust children and Life Learning.

~ Nancy, CO

4/27/2019

I Don’t Want A Day Without Learning…

I Don’t Want A Day Without Learning…

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Rocio is a West River Academy senior in Argentina. Unschooling has reignited her curiosity and love of learning.

I’ll be honest, I always found it difficult to follow a routine but having one and sticking to has been easier these past few months.
Before, my routine was based on activities, schedules and places I didn’t like – not interesting or fulfilling at all. I can guarantee that I enjoy every moment now; I like what I do every day, even those days that are similar to others.

Some of my favorite things are books, photography, cooking, languages; each one teaches me something new and changes me. I think every time we learn, we also change, we are not the same person we were before, and one day without learning is a wasted day. 

I’ve been traveling a lot lately, which makes me so happy and adds only excitement to my days. There is nothing more beautiful than to visit a place you wanted to go to; to imagine being there and then to finally do it. Apart from learning about the place, I really enjoy taking pictures.

I want to say thank you to West River Academy for giving me the opportunity to set my own schedule, activities and academic learning according to my interests. I’m grateful for being able to fully enjoy my hobbies, to finally feel mentally and physically healthy. I love where and how I am now. I love what I do.

 

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Creatively Learning

Creatively Learning

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Art by Makena Brumm

In the High School Graduation Program, students are given the flexibility to choose their own schedule and learning materials; some choose a curriculum-based approach and others choose an interest-based approach. This way, they are able to decide what is most important for them to learn in order to succeed in this rapidly changing world.

In this monthly report our prospective graduate, Makena Brumm, describes what she has learned and what a month looks like in her life as an unschooler.

My name is Makena Brumm and I am so excited to be a part of West River Academy! The flexibility between choosing classes and scheduling them caught my attention, but more importantly I will be able to do all the work to graduate and that responsibility will be put in my own hands. Challenging, valuable, and interesting schoolwork has been important to me for a very long time but art has always been my passion, no matter the media. Creativity is something I’ll never lose; it will always be with me.

The subjects I’ve been studying this past month are: algebra, U.S. government, chemistry, economics, personal finance, Japanese, nutritional science, physical fitness, language arts, home economics, guitar, drawing and multimedia art.

I have used the lessons from The Learning Odyssey for many of my subjects, as I find them very thorough and informative. For example, in Algebra I’ve been learning about functions. I now know how to graph much more complex equations than I did before, as well as effectively put them in an input output chart. Sometimes, it can be a bit difficult but I enjoy the challenge. Functions are really good to know because it is very commonly used in business and economics. In U.S. government, I’ve been learning about The Ideals of Government, Foundations of US Government, and The United States Constitution. I really enjoy the way I am taught this class because there are many visual notes for me to copy down, and it is not just lecturing me.

In chemistry, I’ve been learning a lot about atoms. Specifically, I’ve been learning how and why they are organized on the periodic table of elements, as well as what forms an atom, and how molecules form. I love how in depth the lessons are, they go as specific as teaching me electron configurations and covalent, ionic, and metallic bonding. It seems a bit nerdy for an art student to be fascinated by molecular science, but I love being able to understand how our physical world works.

In economics, I’ve been learning basic fundamental information about how the system works. I will be continuing with macroeconomic and microeconomics as well as international economics. Personal finance is honestly one of my favorite classes. I study the material I’m provided with very meticulously because it is essential to know to keep my future running smoothly. So far, I have read the chapters: Avoiding or Eliminating Credit Card Debt, Managing Money for Home Ownership, Responsible Renting or Home Ownership, and Starting a Small Business. The links that are included with the lessons are very informative and useful to my understanding of the lesson.

In Japanese, I am learning the “language basics” which is how to use verbs, nouns and pronouns effectively while reading, writing, listening and speaking the language. Flash cards have been a huge help in learning everything, as well as randomly saying words or sentences that pertain to everyday life. I am also teaching everything I learn to my younger sister Jolene, who also loves the Japanese culture like I do!

The following classes are self-taught. In Nutritional Science, I watch Thomas Delauer’s YouTube channel and take many notes. The videos are so packed with information about how our body processes everything, and it’s shocking how many people think the food you put in your body has little effect on well-being. This is something I feel very passionate about and I am always hoping to learn more. It’s just so amazing how our body works and how important it is to give it the nutrients it needs.

In Physical Fitness, I work 15-20 minutes of ground exercises such as sit ups, squats, and pushups in the early morning. I also run /walk or jog a mile in the evening, and occasionally do a workout with my mom in the middle of the day. I like to keep my body in tip top condition so I feel better physically and mentally.

In learning my language arts, I focus a lot on reading and writing. Every other year since the fourth grade, I have read the Harry Potter series, and my tradition hasn’t stopped. As for the writing portion, I have been writing essays about things I’d love to know more about. So far I’ve wrote about Japanese mythology, Wiccan ideology, and how to make a good resume for when the time comes. I also am putting handwriting under this category. I love cursive writing and try to perfect mine by copying song lyrics in a notebook using my best penmanship.

For home economics, I sew a lot of my own clothes and modify old clothes as well. I make both cosplay items and just everyday wear. I currently am sewing a Harley Quinn costume for the Denver Comic Con coming up this summer. I also meal plan for my family and on occasion prepare and cook it as well. Before I started cooking as my home economics lesson, I could only make very simple food so I’m super excited that now I have the time to learn real recipes. I just learned how to make Golden Milk, which is a healthy turmeric drink.

In guitar I’ve been learning songs at a much faster rate and I have been improving drastically. Being able to pick up my guitar whenever I want and just play is a really good way to simmer down if I’m ever feeling overwhelmed.

Now onto my very favorite class, drawing! I try to put about an hour of work into my drawings per day. I have attached a couple of my drawings that I scanned onto my computer about a month ago just so you can see my art style. Since I want to be a tattoo artist, they reflect my taste in tattoos. I’m also learning about multimedia which includes painting and graphic design.

All in all, I have had a very productive month and have really enjoyed my learning experiences. I look forward to what I will learn next month!

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Art by Makena Brumm

What Does Unschooling Look Like?

What Does Unschooling Look Like?

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“Ultimately, unschooling “looks like” young people pursuing their own dreams with assistance from those who love and support them!”

Author John Holt coined the term “unschooling” in the 1970s when he started to advocate removing children from school and educating them in a manner that would be the opposite of school: no compulsion, no prescribed curriculum, no bells to start and stop learning. Through the years, other terms have been used, such as interest-based learning, child-led learning and relaxed homeschooling.

West River Academy Director Peggy Webb stresses to people who call her that unschooling is a way of honoring children and their reason for being on Planet Earth right now. Allowing the child to continue his or her curiosity-driven interests results in learning that is valuable and practical to the student. The ultimate benefactors of a student that is engaged in activities he or she is passionate about is us; the world benefits from what this person will contribute to our global community.

As Peggy likes to say, “Think of it as putting the child in the driver’s seat of the car. The parent is in the passenger’s seat, making sure the car is not driven off a cliff, being the navigator with map in hand, letting the driver know what appears to be up ahead, etc. The child is then free to take the interstate or go off on a scenic byway, explore different places along the way or get to the destination as fast as he or she can. It’s letting the child drive the car while the parent offers guidance and assures safety.”

“What if I’m practicing unschooling and my child wants to go to public school?” is a question often asked. Peggy responds, “If your child chooses to attend school, then he or she is still in the driver’s seat, making that decision. Unschooling, then, takes on the form of going to school. The child knows that at any time he or she can decide to stop going to school; he has chosen to have this learning experience. It’s really no different than the child’s deciding to take ballet lessons. I gave my daughter, Rachel, the freedom to choose how she wanted to learn and she chose a variety of experiences during her childhood, including a part-time charter school, boarding school and full-time public high school. To me, it was all unschooling because she was in charge and I assisted.”

Ultimately, unschooling “looks like” young people pursuing their own dreams with assistance from those who love and support them!

A Letter from Ayelén: A Graduate from Argentina

A Letter from Ayelén: A Graduate from Argentina

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Ayelén reflects on her experience as one of our recently graduated students from Río Negro, Argentina.

“I am very happy with this learning option as I didn’t only learn about core subjects such as math, language, physics or chemistry but I was able to develop other skill sets that I usually wouldn’t have had the time for. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to know and understand different cultures and learn in many different surroundings.

Being a Christian girl, I enjoyed having the time to practice mercy and love for others through my art (comics, pictures, etc) offering a faith message in the places I visited like nursing homes, small towns lost on the “map”, and preaching at the bus stop.

I would like to thank God for this kind of education because I am convinced that if I had not traveled this way, my life would have had another direction.

That is why I encourage all the kids and parents who are about to make this decision not to doubt it as long as they are united as a family, in good will to go through it.

I have included some pieces of my work.

Greetings from Dina Huapi, Argentina.”

Ayelén Zogalski.

Introducing Our Welcome Video

Introducing Our Welcome Video

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We are pleased to release our new “Welcome to West River Academy” introductory video! This quick three-minute video shares who we are, what we provide, and what we can do for you. It features footage from our May 2017 graduation ceremony, a parent testimonial, and our Director, Peggy Webb, describing how she learned about homeschooling and began West River Academy.

As Peggy says, “We all want the same thing, which is helping your child(ren) to find their passions and interests, and develop those.”