a Prenda Guide and parent, Heather Long, and her two students

Heather Long

Last August, I went to a Prenda meeting and loved everything I heard but was unsure about leaving my job and pulling my kids from public school. I was nervous that I didn't have what it took to teach, and leaving the only system I knew seemed scary and crazy. I decided to look into being a guide, but I did not think I would go through with it. However, the more I learned about Prenda through the Guide on the onboarding process, the more it felt like the right thing to do, both for my kids and me. I worked in a public school as a school counselor, but I wanted my children to have more time to explore nature, take risks, play freely, and have more choice over their learning. I questioned whether separating children by grade level is the best thing for them.

My children were coming home from school exhausted and overwhelmed. Trying to balance their academics and doing the right thing while constantly being disrupted by other students experiencing explosive behavior was a lot for them.

In early December, we made the jump, and I started a microschool with my own two children and four additional learners. I do not regret this decision at all. My students love coming to school every day, to the point that going home is the most challenging transition. They have developed new friendships and still get to see their old friends at sports and on the weekends. I do not feel that they are missing out on any socialization; it just looks different. I would argue that the socialization they get now is much more positive and beneficial than they did at school. Academically, they are doing well and making progress. I am amazed at the level of independence and self-motivation they have taken on with their work. Prenda has been a positive move for us, and I could not even imagine going back! Since I opened up a Prenda Microschool in my home in December, these walls have echoed with the sound of children learning and growing. One of my Prenda students tends to say aloud what she is feeling. She will often bounce through my house, yelling out, "Happy! I'm so happy!". I love the pure joy and innocence in her expression.

There have been so many great moments in my microschool, from skiing to rock climbing to spending time outdoors and many great projects! So instead of searching for that one moment that stands out, I'd like to share a snapshot from a typical learning day... We have just finished up our Conquer time with our maths learning tools and have started hands-on math activities. My older students independently choose what they do during this time, and I help lead activities for my younger students. It is a beautiful day, so my younger students practice addition, subtraction, and graphing skills with math blocks on the front deck. One of my older students has chosen to bake cookies and uses his knowledge of fractions and measuring skills. The other two students are nearby at our kitchen table, playing a math game with a multiplication twist that they added themselves to keep the game challenging. These kids are happy and engaged. I can see how their confidence has grown and that they feel comfortable and safe.

I am not sure who has grown more, them or me. I find that my life has slowed down to a pace where I can indeed be present and enjoy every moment. I have grown to love the challenge of guiding. In these small moments, I often find myself pausing and thinking, "Happy! I'm so happy!". Thank you to Prenda for offering this life-changing experience.

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