What Makes Village Home?

Real learning as it is meant to be: Engaging, collaborative, inspiring, fun!

This is what Village Home is all about.

Village Home is a new model for education in the 21st century, for preschool through high school. With information at our fingertips, the role of education and real learning is being redefined. At Village Home, the “school” component of a learner’s life is only part of the equation. Village Home is the place where real life, family, and education converge with stunning results.

At the core of our approach is the belief that learning is a natural and inherently enjoyable process when learners are empowered to make education choices with their families. In the classrooms, our caring teachers create a collaborative, fun-filled environment. An average class size of 12 ensures personal attention in a grade-free environment where the focus is on real learning rather than on test performance.

Village Home functions like a community college starting at preschool. Families choose to take one class a week, or take several a day; the family decides what they need to meet their education goals. Families at Village Home have diverse approaches to education, and widely varied educational philosophies. Village Home believes that every learner is unique, and deserves a unique education, as well as a community of people to grow and learn with.

If you are looking for a different approach to education – one that honors the individual and the family – Village Home is for you.

Who are Village Home Learners?

Village Home students are self-directed learners who actively participate in their educational plans with their families. Parents are the managers of their children’s education, and, in most cases, learners engage in learning activities outside of Village Home. Because we have a structure based on trust that maximizes student autonomy, students must be able to manage their own learning constructively in the classroom. Village Home classrooms accommodate a wide range of academic ability, but we are not a program designed for learners with academic, emotional, or behavioral challenges that preclude them from managing their own learning constructively in the classroom.

VHVOlor_DSC_0978What managing your own learning looks like:

  1. Engagement and participation in class.
  2. Respectful, age-appropriate interaction with others.
  3. Knowledge and skill prerequisites met.
  4. Completion of required work in and out of class.

Mission and Vision

Village Home is a dynamic, choice-based learning community creatively integrating family, education and real life to empower learners of all ages. The vision of Village Home is to be an empowering and engaging choice-based learning community. Village Home, founded in 2002, is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit learning community based in Beaverton, Oregon.

Unique Paths for All Learners: Choice and Flexibility

At Village Home, we recognize that each learner is a unique individual. Learners can customize their learning experience by selecting courses in a choice-based educational marketplace at Village Home.

Family-Centered Learning and Parent as Primary Educator

At Village Home, the family is honored in the learning community. We acknowledge that the parent is the first and the primary educator for a child. In addition to welcoming the parent in the classroom, Village Home supports families by making play space available for younger siblings and parents, offering multi-age classrooms where it is possible for siblings to learn together, and providing opportunities for parents and children to learn together. We believe that the family is the primary sphere of influence for education, and Village Home Education Resource Center functions as a secondary, supportive environment.

Self-Directed Learning

We believe that true learning happens only in the context of self-direction. Intrinsically motivated learners maintain their innate drive to learn by self-directing their learning. We encourage families to see their children as the authors of their own learning plan. In classes, instructors rely on the students to measure their own success, and hence there is no grading. Our learning environment centers on learning for the sake of learning.

Lifelong Learning

We value the spirit of lifelong learning. We provide opportunity for people of all ages to learn together and to learn from each other and encourage primary educators, the parents, to model lifelong learning for the children.

Peer-to-Peer Learning

We believe that there is tremendous value in peer-based learning for people of all ages. We create group-learning opportunities that facilitate meaningful peer interaction by offering classes with flexible age ranges.

Passionate, Focused Instruction in Small Classes

We believe that the most important thing an instructor can bring to the classroom is a personal passion and interest in the subject matter, and the most important thing we can do is keep their classes relatively small (eight to fifteen learners). Classes are multi-age groups and are non-credit and non-graded. Village Home also provides opportunity for exploration beyond the classroom.

Our Beginning (founded in 2002)

Village Home began in 2002 with a group of homeschooling parents led by Lori McKee Walker, who were interested in creating community for their children. They were happily homeschooling with a vision for MORE:

  • MORE community spirit for the children.
  • MORE affordable group learning opportunities.
  • MORE places to meet that belong to the whole community.
  • MORE free time with our children.

But they also had overstuffed calendars, and so were also happily homeschooling with a vision for LESS:

  • LESS hassle finding exciting and enriching educational opportunities to supplement their home-based learning.
  • LESS conflicting schedules.
  • LESS money out of pocket.
  • LESS time in the car running from class to class.
  • LESS time spent creating and re-creating group learning opportunities.

After months of researching and planning, Village Home incorporated, organized, and began offering tuition-free classes in Fall 2003 as an enhanced alternative to public education, with 200 Portland-area homeschoolers enrolled.

Village Home strengthens (academically) and complements (socially) family-centered learning by offering an affordable community aspect to homeschooling and by offering expert-enriched group educational opportunities across fields that include mathematics, sciences, the arts, technology, and many other specific areas of study.

Initially, Village Home was established in partnership with the Beaverton School District, and for the first two years of operation, Village Home partnered with area school districts to provide supplementary education for homeschoolers. In the second year, because of the resounding success of the program, Village Home had earned service contracts from four other area districts: Portland, Hillsboro, Forest Grove, and Tigard, and served students from several other districts on a transfer basis.

During that time, Village Home offered approximately 80 classes weekly, and 130 field trips per year for homeschooled students age 5-18, tuition-free. The program grew consistently and steadily, and enjoyed success as learners thrived. By the end of year two, enrollment reached 258, a 22% increase in the first two years. A highlight of the second year was sending the science bowl team to national competition.

By the end of year two, it became clear that political climate changes and increasing district budgetary pressure was leading to increased control over the program, including requirements from districts to perform standardized testing, and to require students to engage in a full, standardized curriculum, despite the fact that Village Home was, by contractual definition with the districts, a supplementary program designed to enhance home-based learning. Both requirements are antithetical to what Village Home values about effective education.

In the Summer of 2005, Village Home re-organized as a tuition-based, private program designed with significant member benefits, and with an optional member commitment to contribute volunteer time. Organizational structure was completely revamped, although course offerings remained similar. Taking some aspects of co-op organizations, and some aspects of private-tuition programs and schools, Village Home created an innovative hybrid program designed to enhance learning in a community setting while affording families and the learners maximum flexibility. In 2005-06, Village Home successfully piloted a private-school option called CHOICES.

During the first year with private-funding, we successfully retained over 50% of our population, a testament to the quality of the program, considering families (generally with one income) were for the first time paying out-of-pocket for services that were previously gratis. Village Home also gained many new families who had not attended previously simply because Village Home was funded by the public system, and hence, tied to it’s requirements. During the 2007-2008 academic year, Village Home served an average of 170 students with approximately 70 weekly course offerings.

Each year, Village Home has been honored to be associated with learners who are actively pursuing their dreams. Since 2002, we can boast quite a bit about our learners and their accomplishments. Village Home learners have: won the regional Science Bowl and competed nationally, won several notable Chess matches, competed successfully in annually Lego and Destination Imagination competitions (with a 3rd place win in 2014 at DI Globals), and taken home first place in Art Contests of various shapes and sizes. A number of Village Home students perform regularly in professional theater and dance productions. We have had Spelling Bee, GeoBee, and History Bee competitors win and represent Village Home regionally and nationally. Most recently one of Village Home’s three Mock Trial teams won the Oregon State Championship and competed at Nationals in NC. We have many learners pursuing their dreams at Village Home, and getting accolades for their efforts.

As a private program, Village Home is free to explore the outer bounds of what makes a learning community vibrant, meaningful, and effective for its members. Village Home continues to be inspired by self-directed, intrinsically motivated learners, and remains responsive to community needs. Over the years, Village Home has had the opportunity to more clearly define its path, and its place in the education reform movement.