Homeschool Guidance

Clonlara School & ISP
1289 Jewett, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Ph: 734-769-4511; F: 734-769-9629

by Emerson Sandow

It might be easy for homeschooling families to take for granted the relative, basic freedom we enjoy in teaching our own children, but such an atmosphere of freedom would not be possible without the pioneering efforts of many professional educators along the way. These people possessed the vision to realize that children learn best in other ways than those promulgated in the public school model. They also had faith that they could work with parents, rather than independent of them.

One such pioneer is Dr. Pat Montgomery, founder of Clonlara School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 1967, Dr. Pat pursued her then-rare philosophy of a student-centered curriculum, whereby the student participates actively in his/her own education, with the instructor acting as a knowledgeable guide, facilitating the child’s natural curiosity. Dr. Pat opened the bricks-and-mortar Clonlara School, which still serves local students who wish to enjoy a fully-accredited and unique atmosphere for learning.

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In 1979, Dr. Pat opened the Clonlara Home Based Education Program, allowing families to take advantage of her fresh and successful teaching methods, no matter where they lived. Since her philosophy views the world as the classroom, homeschoolers were an organic, natural “fit” for her teaching style.

Clonlara focuses on each student, his or her individual skills, learning style and interests. Dr. Pat believes that since we are all curious by nature, and will continue to be so unless someone stops us, teaching should nurture and encourage that natural curiosity, guiding the student to knowledge via his/her natural interests, rather than trying to force the student to fit an external, generic curriculum and sequence. This results in empowering students for all of their lives, much like the old adage that “. . . if you give a man a fish you will temporarily satisfy his hunger; but if you teach him how to fish, he can feed himself forever.” Clonlara teaches its students how to teach themselves in a holistic fashion, for all of their lives, with the intended goal of actually acquiring knowledge, not merely cramming information for the purposes of achieving a high test score, only to have forgotten a majority of the information a few weeks later.

Another strong plus for homeschoolers is that Clonlara believes in parents; that they have the right and ability to teach their own children Therefore, parents can work with the trained professional educators of Clonlara without fear of being steamrolled with jargon and an adversarial point of view. This creates a win-win situation and the child benefits wholly from such a cooperative atmosphere.

On top of this, Clonlara School is fully-accredited by three accrediting bodies – CITA, The Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation and NCA the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement and by the National Private School Accreditation Alliance. These accreditations demonstrate that Clonlara is willing to hold itself accountable to the school community and educational professionals. Clonlara’s students can take the full range of College Board exams, including the SAT, SAT Reasoning Test, SAT Subject Tests, AP, CLEP, and the ACT.

Clonlara continues to be a trailblazer in progressive education. They are utilizing technology to build learning environments and encourage collaborative workgroups. Clonlara has made their innovations more easily accessible to a broader population of homeschoolers by maintaining an electronic repository of curriculum examples, assessment techniques and many other resources compiled through years of experience. All in all, Clonlara is at the top of the homeschool instruction world, providing the very best of resources to homeschoolers anywhere and offering the atmosphere we all cherish as teaching parents. Please visit their website and allow yourself to become familiar with all Clonlara has to offer to your child and your family! E.S.

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