Archive for April, 2017

What Are the Proper Purposes of a System of Schooling?

Our compulsory school system was designed, long ago, for very specific purposes. Those purposes may now be outdated. What should be the purposes of a system of schooling today?

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Open House

Come join us at our Open House on Sunday April 30th from 3-5 pm. Sunset Sudbury staff, parents and kids will be here to give tours of the school and answer all of your questions.

Where:  2300 SW 15 Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, Fl 33315
When:   Sunday, April 30th, 3:00 to 5:00pm

RSVP is appreciated but not required

Also, our gift to you for attending this Open House is 20% off of your trial week. A $50 value!

SUMMER CAMP: We will be raffling off 2 free weeks of summer camp (limit one per family) at the Open House. One raffle will be exclusively for those attending the Open House, and the second will be from an online raffle.  You can double your chance of winning by attending the Open House AND entering the online raffle!  Just put your information into this contact form and include the word “raffle” in the comment section.  Both winners will be announced at the Open House.

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Sudbury Summer Camp!

Sudbury Summer Camp!

Call us at (954) 404-7785 or click here for more information or to sign up.

Sudbury Summer Camp is a unique opportunity for children to experience the freedom and challenges of life at Sunset Sudbury School during the summer.

Have fun, explore, and enjoy activities that kids design with their friends in a playful community environment.  Campers participate in all decisions regarding daily activities, field trips, swimming, beach, bowling, art, computers, movies, skating, pizza parties, anything and everything, limited only by your imagination and interest. If you have a taste for adventure and prefer to choose your fun, join and experience the summer as it should be!

Fast Facts
Ages: 5 – 13
Where: 2300 SW 15th Ave Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315
When: Week 1 (June 26 – 30), Week 2 (July 3 – 7), Week 3 (July 10 – 14)
Times: 9 am – 5 pm 
Cost: $250 per week, per child.  Discounts available for booking by May 13th, reserving multiple weeks, and bringing siblings.
Starting in June we will be holding 4 fun weeks of camp.   You are welcome to pick and   choose particular weeks or you can book for the whole summer.  Unlike a regular Sudbury school day, campers and staff will work together to plan optional activities.  Every Monday in camp meeting the week’s schedule will be decided upon and emailed to all the families.
Just to give you an example of what a week of camp looks like, here is a schedule from a few years ago.
Camp Meeting:
plan field trips, go over rules and procedures
PARK: 10AM Sugar Sand Park playground and Science Explorium Water Day:
Slip and slide and water balloon piñatas in gardenSnow Cones!!!
Field Trip: 10AM
Swimming and playing at the beach
-bring a bag lunch
Make fairy and lizard houses 
Friendship BraceletsPlay Doh 
Bring bag lunch to eat @ Sugar Sand Park ART:
Banner Balloon Paint
Jaxon’s 1PM
Bring $5.00 to have an ice cream treat at Jaxon’s after the beach
Edible Art /Science Project:
Make Solar Oven and cook  S’mores
Obstacle CourseYoga
Back at camp by 3PM SCIENCE:
Make your own Angry Birds game
Back at camp by 3PM SCIENCE:
Sidewalk chalk maze


MONDAY:  Today has been a low key day with friendship bracelets and a little Minecraft. Thanks to our volunteers, we also get to try out their handmade obstacle course. Check out what we are doing the rest of the week…

TUESDAYSugar Sand Park and Science Explorium:  Sugar Sand Park is a really fun science based playground. It is adjacent to an indoor science museum.  Please pack a lunch that can be taken with us on the field trip and be eaten at the park. Also, there is a water area on the playground, so pack a swimsuit, towel, and sunscreen.

WEDNESDAY: Water day! We have lots of outdoor activities planned that can be done when wet. Please pack a towel and bathing suit for your camper.

THURSDAY:  Beach and Jaxon’s:    We will leave for the beach at 10:00 and will eat lunch while we are there. Please pack a lunch that won’t wilt in the heat. Also, please apply sunscreen to your child before they come to camp and pack extra so we can reapply after swimming. $$ alert : We will stop at Jaxon’s for a cold treat after the beach. Please send $5 for ice cream.

FRIDAY:  We have a few outdoor projects planned for today.  Make a fairy or lizard house to put in your garden. Also, enjoy our sidewalk chalk maze and making a Solar Oven so we an cook  s’mores.

Call us at (954) 404-7785 or click here for more information or to sign up.

The post Sudbury Summer Camp! appeared first on Sunset Sudbury School.

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Roxasword1A recent article in the Washington Post typifies common attitudes about playing at school these days. Apparently, five-year-old Caitlin Miller, of Raeford, North Carolina, was pretending to guard an imaginary king and queen at recess, and in her game, she picked up a “gun-shaped stick” and aimed it, presumably at pretend villains. Because of anti-violence policies, her school’s administration  suspended her for one day.

While of course we here at Fairhaven School decry any actual school violence, we approach the natural, imaginary play of young people in a different way. We also address concerns about behavior differently. Perhaps a recent development here will help paint the contrast.Roxalog3


Over the past two years, we have enrolled a small tribe of people around Caitlin’s age, and one of their favorite spots to play on campus is just outside my office window. Because they are playing so hard, they seem to lose track not only of the windows and the people behind them, but they even lose track of time itself, as more than once at the end of the day I’ve seen parents collect their children from this spot after the school day has ended. They have deconstructed a nearby play fort and built a variety of new structures, and these change daily. As they’re next to the woods, at least one of them always seems to have a fake weapon in hand. They are building, negotiating, playing, and warring for big parts of every day, so much so that their play reminds me of a lovely children’s book by Alice McLerran called Roxaboxen, wherein the author recalls her mother’s stories of setting up an imaginary world with her friends. Here is the author’s description of her motive for writing the book:

 ” …a celebration of the active imagination, of the ability of children to create, even with the most unpromising materials, a world of fantasy so real and multidimensional that it earns a lasting place in memory.”Roxamud3


In the ongoing,  two-decade project of searching for ways to talk about the dynamic of a Sudbury education, McLerran’s words rank right up there. We value and celebrate play here, even fantasy play that may involve fake weapons. Out my window, I’ve seen stick pistols, stick rifles, stick swords, stick knives, and maybe even a stick bazooka. They’ve also made flags, sandboxes, forts, homes, stores, and numerous other structures. In short, out there, imagination is king, and the students make the most of their “unpromising materials.”


Although their pretend weapons do not break any of the democratically agreed upon rules of the school, their play does not transpire in a lawless vacuum. One day, we had a heavy rain, and their world suddenly had a river, and with that river came lots of mud. When two of our students decided to smear mud all over the window, the case landed in the school’s Judicial Committee (“JC”), where the students received a sentence to clean the window. If a dispute goes a bit too far, other cases may arrive. Further, if they lose interest in their world and leave a mess (they would not be the first!), they may also be called to the JC, where the case will be heard by their peers and they will be able to give a full accounting of their actions. However, they will not be charged (or suspended) for playing.



Google “the importance of play” and you will see the numerous books, articles, and research projects that validate what we and other Sudbury schools do and why we do it.  One colleague from a sister school summarizes the process by saying “play makes you smarter.” Even though we hope that Caitlin and others will be treated more reasonably in the future, we write today simply to celebrate, with Alice McLerran, the ability of children to create and the joy of spending our days in a school like Fairhaven where we watch them invent entire worlds.

Mark McCaig

April, 2017



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