Hilltown Families


Introducing the concept of homeschooling to young audiences, Jonathan Bean’s loosely autobiographical book takes a close look at a day in the life of a busy and constantly learning homeschooling family. The concise text and dense illustrations offer up a fascinating tale of nontraditional education, and paired with our literary guide, the book offers itself as a portal into the examination of nontraditional education and personal learning style.

Author and educator John Holt wrote in his book, Learning All the Time: “Children learn from anything and everything they see. They learn wherever they are, not just in special learning places.”

Even amongst parental fears about “summer learning loss,” the phenomenon of children losing academic skills and knowledge over the summer months, there are many free and inexpensive ways to encourage learning for people of all ages during the summer. What’s more- programs, workshops, and educational events in the summer can give kids outside of school the chance to direct their own learning and develop new interests! The following are a brief selection of interest-based learning opportunities for children, self-directed teens, and lifelong learners.

Community-based resources, events and service-learning opportunities make education inclusive, accessible & intergenrational! Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events every Thursday for the upcoming weekend and following week to find community-based educational opportunities across the region and in your backyard for learning du jour! Ichthyology on Saturday. Book Clubs on Sunday. Science Cafe on Monday. Native American Music on Tuesday. Earthen Ovens on Wednesday. Scherenschnitte on Thursday. Toy History on Friday.

Another glorious New England autumn is here, bringing with it shorter days, cooler nights, and a cornucopia of seasonal and cultural darlings to celebrate! Families in western Massachusetts can celebrate fall by visiting local farms, enjoying fall-harvested foods, exploring the local landscape through leaf-peeping, and engaging in cultural celebrations honoring the season. This month Sienna and Ashley talked about community-based educational opportunities embedded in fall harvests, fall foliage and fall festivals.

Hilltown Families and Mass Appeal (a weekday, hour-long lifestyle program on NBC) have teamed up to offer a live monthly segment on WWLP 22News! Each month, Hilltown Families’ Founder & Executive Director, Sienna Wildfield, joins Mass Appeal hosts to talk about ways to engage in your community while supporting the interests and education of your children (and yourselves!).

This monthly segment continued on Thursday, August 19, 2015, for their back-to-school week, this time looking at how community-based education supports learning all year round! Sienna and Ashley talk about community engagement as a way of supporting self-initiated self-directed learning, or even a classroom-based curriculum or subject, including history, math, architecture, science, art, botany and biology.

Looking at your community through the lens of an interest is just one point of entry to community-based education. With back-to-school in the air we wanted to encourage our readers, parents, teachers and administrators to remember Hilltown Families as your community resource for supporting interests and education, both inside the classroom and at home.

Into the midst of the educational upheaval happening in Holyoke enters LightHouse Holyoke, Personalized Education for Teens, a new school alternative opening in September. LightHouse offers teens aged 13-18 the opportunity to direct their own learning, and to study their own interests in a supportive, academic, and creative community. Intrigued? Interested? Read on and find out about the upcoming info session.

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