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Here's Not So Much Pressure

Nurturing Freedom: A Journey into Self-Directed Education and Rural Living

The article provides insights into the journey of our family embracing self-directed education and rural living in the Czech Republic. It discusses our transition from urban to rural life, our involvement in a community supporting self-directed education, and our efforts to create a nurturing environment for their children. The article highlights the Free Haven’s House project, which promotes self-directed education and respectful parenting, offering a diverse range of activities in a respectful and inclusive environment. How did we come to unschool our children? What life changes have we had to make to do this and what obstacles have we had to overcome? How are our children educating themselves?

Our story

Our journey to the village in Liberec region began when our daughter was just a year and a half old, prompting us to leave the big regional city for a quieter life. After six years in a small town, we yearned for a more rural setting where our children could thrive outdoors and we could find a community aligned with our values. Despite initial challenges in finding the right place, we eventually discovered Jindřichovice, attracted by its burgeoning community of like-minded individuals in part around the Free School Ronja situated in local Open-Air Museum. Settling into village life, we've embraced our roles as caretakers of Freehaven's House, a base for supporters of self-directed and respectful education. Professionally, I've transitioned to remote work, balancing my responsibilities with family life and household duties. Looking ahead, we envision expanding our communal space and welcoming more families to share in our vision. While the transition to rural living has had its challenges, it has also grounded us in the present and deepened our connection to the natural world.

children playing with a tyre

Over the course of 6.5 years of home education, our children have undergone a rich and diverse learning journey. From developing strong relationships in the local community to exploring various educational and recreational activities, including drama club, math workshops, outdoor sports, art classes, and visits to museums and natural sites, they have continuously engaged in learning across different domains. They have demonstrated a keen interest in mathematics, language learning, arts, and outdoor activities, while also nurturing their social skills through participation in group activities and collaborative projects. Their holistic education has fostered a sense of curiosity, creativity, and responsibility towards the environment and society, as evidenced by their involvement in gardening, caring for animals, and engaging in discussions on social issues. Throughout their educational journey, they has shown resilience, adaptability, and a passion for learning, contributing positively to their community and embracing new challenges with enthusiasm. The emphasis on holistic learning, including cultural and civic engagement, reflects a well-rounded approach to fostering the competencies necessary for personal growth and academic success.

Self-Directed Learning and Community Centre in the Czech Republic

Free Haven's House offers support and counseling to families transitioning to self-directed education, fostering an environment based on sharing, self-organization, and collaboration. They facilitate self-help parent groups and gatherings where experiences are exchanged confidentially. The community provides temporary accommodations for families with children and young people, allowing them to co-create educational opportunities. Additionally, they offer cottage rentals for recreational stays, school trips, and corporate events, situated near Jindřichovice pod Smrkem, with nearby attractions including cycling trails, hiking spots, and cultural landmarks.

The Free Haven’s House serves as an educational and leisure laboratory promoting self-directed education and unschooling. The initiative aims to establish self-directed education as a legal alternative in the Czech Republic's schooling system. Activities at the facility, which is funded privately, include various educational, sports, and leisure pursuits, all voluntarily chosen by participants, without coercion or evaluation. The space accommodates up to fifty people, offering a diverse range of activities in a respectful and inclusive environment. The project also hosts seasonal retreats for families, emphasizing autonomy, mutual respect, and conflict resolution. Future plans involve offering long-term accommodation for worldschooling / unschooling families and conducting educational experiments to advocate for the legalization of self-directed education. Case studies highlight the positive impact of the initiative, showcasing individuals' experiences of acceptance, personal growth, and empowerment through self-directed learning.

Worldschooling Summer Retreats

The residential events present an opportunity as a tasting and sharing ground for self-directed education and respectful parenting for Czech and foreign families together. The retreat described offers a unique opportunity for individuals committed to self-directed education and values of freedom to come together in a safe and nurturing environment. Participants, including children, parents, and grandparents, are invited to contribute their talents and experiences to co-create the program, fostering a culture of mutual respect and collaboration. The retreat emphasizes freedom of exploration and self-expression, guided by principles of non-aggression and tolerance. While organizers provide basic rules for harmonious coexistence, the program is largely shaped by participants' suggestions and interests. The retreat encourages open communication and consensus-building, with a focus on personal growth and community connection. Participants are invited to join this transformative journey towards respectful parenting, self-directed learning, and collective harmony, where individuality is celebrated and diversity is embraced.

Free Haven’s House, aerial view

Do you know any families who are practicing unschooling / worldschooling / slow-travelling and would like to attend and share their experience? Please invite them to join us and other international families at our Worldschooling Summer Retreat on 13th - 20st July 2024 in Czech Republic.

Our goal is to establish a sustainable self-learning local community (co-housing & boarding house) in the Czech Republic, inspired by the Summerhill school, playground for self-directed play The Land and Ecovillage Ithaca. We have witnessed firsthand the adverse effects of traditional education systemss, which we believe stifle children's innate curiosity and autonomy. Motivated by a desire for systemic change, we have delved into societal and political realms, advocating for the sovereignty of the individual and a shift towards self-directed education. Through our journey, we have ve come to understand the importance of trusting children and providing them with the freedom to explore and learn authentically. As we navigate the complexities of modern life, we are committed to challenging existing paradigms and striving for a future where individuals are empowered to live according to their true selves.