Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. D-Q: What is Best Endeavors?
A: Best Endeavors is an alternative learners community that serves families looking for options to traditional education. Best Endeavors is an independent private cooperative (co-op) that uses the democratic education model. Best Endeavors consists of coaches and learners at all performance levels. Best Endeavors supports self-directed learning, emotional well-being and entrepreneurship. We maintain a learner-driven curriculum without grades, exams or standardized testing.
2. D-Q: What is democratic education?
A: A democratic model is a progressive type of education that focuses on participation, collaboration and self-directed learning. The community is run like a democracy which means learners have a voice in decision-making and acquire skills like addressing the chair, making motions, debating issues and voting on important community matters. The whole idea of the governance of the learning community means that they have to constantly examine ethical issues in all their complexity. They learn at their own pace the kinds of things that they want to learn, and end up with a broader perspective on life with greater resources and critical thinking skills.
3. O-Q: Will there be properly trained staff at Best Endeavors?
A: Best Endeavors is a cooperative and will have people from many disciplines including teachers. The “staff” are mostly parents who are dedicated to the well-being of their children. The adults in the community do sometimes teach, but their main purpose is to be here as a resource and help make sure the learning community is running properly. If extra help is needed the co-op will fund raise to hire out or seek a retired teacher who can volunteer.
4. O-Q: How much does membership cost?
A: Best Endeavors has sliding-scale formula in order to make the co-op as affordable as possible. The minimum monthly fee is $60 and the top monthly fee is $916.65. We calculate the fee based on a family’s annual income. Our goal is to be affordable to all interested families, regardless of their ability to pay. Also the monthly fee is per family not per child.
5. O-Q: What are our hours of operation? Will there be aftercare or an extended-day program?
A: We are not currently opened for business but an information session can be scheduled from 10am to 1pm Tue,Wed, Thru. Regular hours will be 9am-3pm M-F. Learners must be in attendance a total of 5 hours per day to meet state-required attendance policies. Learners may attend all day, come in later or leave earlier depending on what works best for them and their family. Home-school families have more flexibility and can submit schedule that works for them. There is no extended care program but parents may be able to volunteer at some point in the future.
6. O-Q: Where is Best Endeavors located and what kind of space do you have?
A: Best Endeavors will be located on the south side (Englewood). There will be common room areas and several separate areas including art, multi-sensory and gross motor space. There is also outdoor space available.
7. L-Q: Will there be classes offered?
A: Any classes offered are requested by the learners and will likely be taught by a parent or volunteer and will be optional. In addition Best Endeavors Curriculum Support offers learners a variety of traditional subjects that they can study with or without instruction. At Best Endeavors we believe that children seek information when they are ready to learn it. Basic skills are learned in everyday life, like using money, playing games, creating art, and reading. If "being taught" is the path to learning they choose, we have many available resources that can be used to teach many different subjects at a learner's request.
8. P-Q: If there are no required classes, won’t some learners just do nothing or play all day?
A: Society often views play as a waste of time, but at Best Endeavors we consider it a very important part of development. Through play, children learn to express creativity, cope in social situations, learn about their interests and develop their sense of right and wrong, among many other skills that they will need all through life. Even if Learners choose to do nothing they are still being exposed to everything around them. Individuals get exposed little by little to a tremendous amount of information over their lives. They need math to use money or that they need to be able to read in order to complete certain tasks on electronic devices. As life goes on interests change and become more advanced. When learners are free to follow their own interests in a safe and caring environment, they are enthusiastic and joyful about learning across a variety of subjects.
9. P-Q: After leaving Best Endeavors will learners be able to get in traditional academic settings (highschool or college)? How will I know they are prepared for the real world as an adult?
A: Other alternative learning environments have found that their students leave with a love of learning, excellent critical thinking skills, a high level of motivation and do well in later schooling. Those who have left democratic education have gone on to high schools, public schools, university, community college and trade programs. Best Endeavors does not focus on preparing for high school or college level work. If the learner is interested in attending a traditional school it is their responsibility to ensure they are prepared. The coaches/adults are here to support in their pursuits. Best Endeavors learners develop their intrinsic motivation, so when they enter adult life, they are ready to pursue their own goals. When a learner does decide to pursue something, like math, they will have a higher likelihood of having the information stick with them. They're given opportunities to learn in organic settings, make mistakes, and to resolve their own conflicts. Our learners are encouraged to keep a portfolio to help keep track of projects and accomplishments during the learner’s tenure. Best Endeavors has a voluntary diploma program for learners enrolled 2 or more years, and who successfully earned their “Right of Passage” by convincing the co-op community of peers & coaches that they are able to be a valuable citizen. Our learners are free to measure their own success without tests, grades or assessments ultimately making their experience meaningful and relatable to real life.
10. P-Q: Can Best Endeavors accommodate individuals with special learning needs?
A: All learners must be able to function independently and communicate well enough to understand and follow community rules. We do not have any Special-Ed certified staff, nor are we equipped to provide specialized services such as speech-language and occupational therapy. However, many families find that this is a good environment for their child with special needs. Individuals with special needs like ADHD, learning disabilities, and many autism spectrum disorders have thrived in alternative environments. If you have questions about special needs come visit our learning community and determine if the environment would be a good fit for your family. If you decide to enroll we ask parents of children with special needs for to supply any required equipment, special assistance, or supervision beyond that required for non-special needs children.
11. S-Q: Will my 6-year-old be around 16-year-olds?
A:. Yes. Learners are free to move about as they wish. Learners of all ages are allowed to associate with each other. Best Endeavors believes age mixing helps learners both mentally and emotionally. This often accelerates younger learners as they are mentored by older learners. Also allowing older learners to reflect on their own maturity and growth.
12. S Q: What if my child can’t handle the amount of personal freedom & responsibility?
A: Best Endeavors understands that the model is radically different from what most are accustomed to and we anticipate parents, learners and coaches will have some challenges and need time to adjust. Best Endeavors will support the learning community by addressing questions, concerns and conflicts relating to the model. Learners are given lots of freedom, and we do expect them to take a certain level of responsibility. They are expected to sign in and out everyday, do chores, participate in JC and the occasional mandatory meeting, and be able to follow rules and exist peaceably with the other members of community. This model of education is not for everyone, but don't let that stop you from considering the possibility that something different might work for your family.
13. S-Q: What is the purpose of the multi-sensory and gross motor area?
A: The multi-sensory and gross motor areas are accessible to all members as a therapeutic mechanism to calm and/or encourage movement. These areas are useful to everyone but particularly to those who struggle with behavior, body control, sensory issues.
14. O-Q: What is the role of the parent? Can parents volunteer?
A: Best Endeavors fosters individual growth, letting each child experience freedom in their place of learning and because of this, we ask parents to allow their children to be autonomous. The general goal of allowing learners to develop themselves in a non-authoritarian environment. Parents are expected to act as host and volunteers for the co-op. Best Endeavors encourages parents to join committees such as the financial planning committee and marketing committee, or participate in community activities.
15. O-Q: How does the alternative learning community run?
A: Our weekly meeting includes all learners and coaches which manages the learning community & creates policies. It’s a real democratic community, not subject to monitoring by any outside governing body. The idea of the learning community is that you are responsible not only for your education but for the community. It’s a real community with real responsibilities & real calls for judgement on different subjects everyday for not just for adults, but for learner too.
16. O-Q:How does Best Endeavors deal with discipline?
A: We have a judicial system that is an arm of the community meeting. It meets daily and investigates written complaints about possible rule violations. The Judicial Committee (JC), as it is called, is made up of learners – two of whom are elected as Clerks for a quarter of the school year, and five of whom are selected by lot from various age groups to serve for a month – and a coach rotating on a daily basis. Anybody in the community can make a complaint about anything they think has happened that might be a violation of the rules. The complaint is investigated, and the committee decides what they think actually happened. Based on their findings, they may charge someone with having broken a rule.
17. O-Q: Do you serve lunch or do learners bring their lunches?
A: Learners bring their lunches. The kitchen is available to all who are able to cook their own meals.
18. L-Q: What does a typical day look like?
A: Learners individualized curriculum is based on their interests, so each learner’s day is different. A typical day starts with a community meeting followed by any number of activities. Learners can spend the day talking about sports, music, political issues or anything that comes up in a conversation between people. Others might work on art, play games or partake other interests. Some might be studying traditional subjects in a traditional manner, but most of them won't.
19. L-Q: How will my child get exposed to things that they haven't already expressed interest in?
A: In traditional schools, students are largely isolated from the city, country & world around them “exposed” to teachers with select knowledge & opportunities deemed appropriate for populations of students. Best Endeavors learners are exposed to widely varying ideas and activities simply because the learners exist both within the learning community & beyond, so parents, siblings, friends & media are all considered valid influences and sources of knowledge. Learners are exposed to opportunities & ideas through conversations, play, seeing what peers & coaches are doing. If a learner becomes passionate about one interest, he/she has the time & space to pursue it intensely.
20. P-Q: How can I find out more about Best Endeavors?