SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING

The time, space, and flexibility to create your own life


We’ve been supporting teenagers and their families to take control over what, when, where and how learning happens since 2010.

We now have two centers: Princeton and Bucks, and plan to open Raritan in Fall 2017. We provide a host of academic, non-academic and social supports to make the idea of leaving the traditional path and taking control of your own education a realistic option.

We accept applications on a rolling basis and work with families from all economic backgrounds.

The Learning Cooperatives
are part of a growing movement
for change in education.

This video by Sir Ken Robinson is the most watched TED talk of all time, inspirational from start to finish. He makes the case that we’re all born with deep natural capacities for creativity and it is increasingly urgent that we provide opportunities for young people to cultivate them. That’s what we do at the Learning Cooperatives.

What happens when teens don’t like school?

We know from years of experience that young people do not need to attend traditional school to lead successful and fulfilling lives. In this video, Ken Danford from North Star talks about how teens can leave school, become self-directed learners and create the life they want.

Freedom with support

We are committed to helping teens to flourish by providing them with opportunities and mentorship. We believe that given these conditions, teens will come to choose what is best for themselves. Because of this, our centers create a non-coercive environment. We do not require or mandate any participation from members in any activity. We don’t grade or test. We don’t record attendance or tardiness. We don’t rank or sort. We don’t compel or coerce. Staff will make suggestions to a teen, give them encouragement and reminders, and help them to be aware of the consequences of their choices. But fundamentally, PLC teens and their families are in charge of their lives and learning—we’re just here to support them.

joel mentoringThe teen-mentor relationship forms the foundation of our approach. Each of our teens is matched with a staff member with whom they have a weekly scheduled meeting. In these, teens and mentors discuss how the teen has been spending their time, challenges they’ve encountered, ideas for personal projects, anxieties and excitements, and just about any part of a teen’s life. Together they also develop goals, track progress towards them, and facilitate connections with the wider world.

Through ongoing conversation and planning, the mentor supports the teen and their family to start new chapters in their lives. With the help of their mentor and their parents, each teen envisions and begins to take steps toward their future goals. By documenting the teen’s activities and classes through weekly notes and narrative transcripts, mentoring helps to pave the way to a teen’s future beyond their time at PLC, which often includes moving on to college.

Taking the first step

Jessica outsideWe use “homeschooling” as our legal mechanism, to offer opportunities for young people to create the life they want right now. Neither home nor school, our centers are an innovative hybrid model using the best of both worlds. Our professional staff works with each teen and family to create a vision of the life they want in the future, and an inspiring plan for how to get there.

More like college than high school, with the support of a mentor, each teen member develops an individualized schedule that includes group classes, one-on-one tutorials, independent study, and eventually, external pursuits like college classes through dual enrollment or internships.

In our centers, we balance a focus on the individual with a small supportive community. We encourage teens to be active contributors to their community, where they have opportunities to lead trips and classes, to make decisions about how our center operates, and to directly help each other as they move ahead productively in their lives.

Homeschoolers are exempt from state-required, standardized testing. Many members will choose to take the SAT or ACT for college admissions, or placement tests for community college classes, but no testing is required. Hundreds of students have used this approach locally over the last 20 years, and nationally, we number in the millions.

As members prepare to move on from our centers our experienced staff will guide any student interested to apply to college in creating a compelling transcript and application to highlight their unique and worthwhile experiences. And we can also help any member who is more interested in work, apprenticeships, or travel to evaluate options and create effective resumes and applications.