Beautifully surrounded by mighty Oak Trees, our school has 1.5 acres of ranch to explore. In our farm, we have chickens, ducks, turkeys, quail, peacocks, pigs, goats, bunnies, barn cats, and doggies. Our garden is full of herbs, vegetables, and flowers ready for harvesting and growing lessons. In the front of the school, we have a trampoline, slack line, basketball hoop, and ample space for running and baseball. Behind us, a trail leading to the mystical forest makes for great adventures.
Freedom Schoolhouse and Farm in Aptos offers a unique program in a beautiful setting. Our curriculum is emergent, and we put a strong emphasis on creating a connection to the natural world. Our open sunny classroom creates a warm environment, and we encourage freedom of choice and relationship building. Set on several acres, every day is filled with the beauty of nature, the joys of friendship, and fun activities geared toward artistic expression, physical movement, and the development of a lifelong love of learning.
We Strive to Cultivate:
1. Thinking Skills: we explore learning through interests and exploring new topics. We feed our student’s curiosity by exploring our natural world and encouraging them to wonder and ask questions.
2. Social Skills: We teach and practice mindfulness skills, and respect and love for ourselves and others, through conflict resolution activities and discussion.
3. Respect and Responsibility to the Environment: Respect is something that is learned. We teach respect by giving respect and being the example for students to utilize. Using our beautiful outdoor setting, we develop our student’s appreciation for the natural world though gardening, farming, and enjoying the beautiful outdoor spaces here at school. We also teach wilderness survival skills throughout the year.
4. Imagination and Play: Music, story telling, dramatic play, art, and friendship are an important part of our program. With our groups being mixed ages, we ensure all children are playing together, finding their own friend groups, and working through emotional moments together, without judgement.
5. Physical Development: We spend ample time outdoors and students are encouraged to test and develop their physical abilities, enjoying our large yard with space for running, apple trees for climbing, a zipline to conquer fears, basketball hoop in the bottom loop, and so much more.
6. An Understanding of our Rights: We learn our rights as Americans and compare and contrast the rights of other countries, maintaining an open conversation about "hot topics" that students will effortlessly be able to talk about any topic, without limit and restraint.
Katie’s first experience in teaching was in 2000 when she traveled to Romania and spent 6 months teaching art and English classes to kindergarten through 2nd grade students at the Transylvania College. After such a rewarding and inspiring experience, Katie decided that opening a farm based play-based school back home was her dream. In 2008, Katie opened a Preschool Program, teaching and directing this program until 2018, when she decided to pursue a Master’s degree in counseling. At this same time, Katie also started to home school her oldest child, then 12. He was no longer thriving in the school he had been enrolled in since kindergarten, and both Katie and her son felt that homeschool was going to work well for them. And it did! However, when our community shut down and changed drastically in 2020, many of the programs that homeschooled kids were participating in either shut down and enforced mandates that Katie’s family has chosen not to participate in. Thus, the decision to open a new program, Freedom Schoolhouse and Farm, was made. Katie’s vision has been that FS&F is a special blend of the best parts of homeschool and school away from home.
Kindergarten, Elementary, and High School Teacher
Hannah is our currently our sole Schoolhouse Teacher, here at Freedom Schoolhouse and Farm. She has been teaching for over 10 years, teaching levels Preschool through 12th Grade. Hannah has always felt that something was wrong with the Education System in the United States and through the guidance of her research, intuition, and love, her career journey on the path of Freedom led her to meet Katie. Together, Hannah and Katie began their new journey of opening up Freedom Schoolhouse and Farm in 2020. Hannah's approach in educating students is maintaining a consistent morning routine where together, Hannah and her students focus on English and Math with lessons where learning will naturally snowball. We, as humans biologically crave routine, consistency, and security which is what Hannah strives to provide as a teacher. Our school values quality-teaching where group sizes are small so that every student feels seen, heard, and gets their needs met. We value pointing out student's strengths, weaknesses, character defects, negative and positive self-talk, and always build up self-esteem and social skills.
We are human first, and students second.