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It’s time to SHINE!  This acronym encompasses the culture of SHINE Together:






Children engage in self-chosen activities and real-life experiences to learn and grow.  They have space to just be and explore and unleash endless curiosity and creativity.  An adult tutor learns alongside children and acts as a guide, providing an environment rich in opportunities to explore and grow and sharing skills and knowledge as children are interested.  The pace of an individual’s learning can be faster or slower than others without judgment.  Curiosity, playfulness, sociability, and planfulness (thinking about and planning for the future) motivate each individual to choose to learn. 

Following your heart and exploring in depth are valued and supported.  Emotional development and inner growth are as important as gaining knowledge.  Deep connections to nature, the world, and other human beings are cultivated in a true community where individuals are celebrated and seen.  Children are encouraged to reflect on what lies deep in their hearts, what makes them come alive, and are free to follow their passions.

Learning cannot be separated from life.  All of the varied resources in daily life are utilized to learn, and various academic subjects are mixed together in authentic life experiences.  Friendships and mentorships among children of different ages develop naturally, and the community is welcoming of and open to learning from people of different faith backgrounds, diverse cultural and racial backgrounds, varied political beliefs, different physical and mental abilities, and any sexual orientation or gender identification.  Each child is already a whole person and has a voice in the community, which seeks to nurture each individual, including intellectual, social, emotional, physical, artistic, and inner growth in an integrated way. 

Each child is important right now and is not just preparing for another stage of life.  The rhythms of each day and each season are honored for the individual and the group.  It is okay to go slowly or quickly, to start sooner or later, whatever pace and timing are natural for the individual.  Children have regular access to nature, and play and exploration are central to their living and learning.  There is enough time to be a child and respect for people’s need for personal balance in being alone or together, going inside or outside, using technology or not, working or playing, etc.  Movement is encouraged, and spaces are comfortable and inviting.  Critical thinking and problem solving skills develop naturally as children encounter real-life challenges. 

Education is “the sum of everything a person learns that enables that person to live a satisfying and meaningful life,” as defined by the Alliance for Self-Directed Education.  Common skills and knowledge that everyone needs in their culture are important as well as a diverse range of skills and knowledge unique to what is meaningful to the individual.  Each organic educational path is valuable and worthy of respect. 

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