Community-Based Education Makes Every Day Back-To-School Day

Hilltown Families: Your Back-to-School Resource, All Year Long!


During the summer months, most children have enjoyed following their interests through outdoor play, reading books they have selected, day-trips with their family, and adventures out in their community. Once late August and early September roll around however, these carefree months of following their own interests and daily rhythms turn towards more organized learning experiences; and for many, the excitement starts to build as families become involved in back-to-school preparations. Maybe this school year will be your child’s first time away from home, or your child is mentally preparing for middle school, or this is their final year in high school… whatever the case, back-to-school can be an exciting time of year for most.

Whether or not your kids are excited about going back to school, or maybe your family homeschools or unschools, that freedom of self-directed learning experienced in the summer months can continue all year round through community engagement outside of the classroom day via community-based education.

Community-based education is what we celebrate each and everyday here on Hilltown Families… for nearly 10 years!

Hilltown Families believes in creating resilient and sustainable communities by developing and strengthening a sense of place in our children and citizens through community-based education and engagement. We work to accomplish this by identifying the embedded learning opportunities that take place throughout our communities, interpreting the educational and social value of engagement, and then making this information accessible to everyone in our community through an online grassroots communication network.

There are many ways to plug into our network, including subscribing to our blog, our eNewsletter, following us on Facebook or Twitter, attending our events, listening to our radio show, and watching us on Mass Appeal. By plugging into our network, families and educators find community-based opportunities to support the interests of their children and students through engagement in community-based education. Learning through the lens of our community makes learning relevant to the learner while nurturing a sense of place.

Events and resources can be selected to support self-directed learning that is self-initiated, or even a classroom-based curriculum or subject, including history, science, art, biology, geology, astronomy, and so much more!

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  • An interest in local history can be engaged by participating in a number of community-based walking tours or through the lens of ourlocal textile industry.
  • Monthly and weekly library clubs, like chess, scrabble and LEGOs, can support an interest in math, spelling and  architecture.
  • Science cafes and makerspaces bring together an intergenerational crowd in community spaces that celebrate STEM.
  • Community art organizations make art accessible to all ages with monthly art walks and events.
  • Music and movement classes are held at libraries, supporting not only music and dance, but also literacy.
  • Events like the fall chrysanthemum show and resources like the self-guided audio tour at the Lyman Conservatory at Smith College are terrific resources to support an interest in botany, as well as community plant sales and swaps.
  • Observatories and planetariums open up the universe to learners interested in astronomy.
  • Local species await an interest in biology.

Looking at your community through the lens of an interest is just one point of entry to community-based education. With back-to-school in the air we wanted to encourage our readers, parents, teachers and administrators to remember Hilltown Families as your community resource for supporting interests and education, both inside the classroom and at home.

To stay tapped in to community-based educational opportunities happening in western MA, tune in to Hilltown Families by subscribing to our free weekly eNewsletter and receive an update every Thursday!

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