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Correspondence

Oak Meadow School
POB 1346, Brattleboro, VT 05302
Website: www.oakmeadow.com
Ph: (802) 251-7250; Email: info@oakmeadow.com
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by Michael Leppert

One of the original homeschool curriculum creators is also the premier K-12 distance-learning school for homeschoolers all over the globe. Oak Meadow is a well-known name to any “veteran” homeschooling family, having begun providing creative curriculum products and distance learning instruction in the late 1970s.

Lawrence Williams and his late wife, Bonnie, began Oak Meadow as a day school in Ojai, California in 1975. Lawrence had a B.S. in Marketing and an M.A. in Elementary Education and had been influenced by the Waldorf educational philosophy during a visit to Switzerland in the early 1970s. At Oak Meadow School, he taught his own children, as well as children of a small group of local families, using his own Waldorf-inspired philosophy of holistic teaching.  After three years, the Williams family closed the day school and, after Lawrence spent a year teaching in the Garden City Waldorf School in New York, they returned to California and Lawrence began writing the Oak Meadow homeschooling curriculum, following the same approach that they had developed in the day school, and that Bonnie was using at home with their youngest children.

 Word about the Oak Meadow homeschooling curriculum spread rapidly, since there were very few such products available. His early curriculum materials were loose and flexible, taking into consideration the whole child and learning styles – a pioneering move!  In 1987, they relocated to Virginia, where Mr. Williams pursued his Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Virginia Tech. His dissertation topic was “Creativity and Homeschooling” a remarkably far-sighted doctoral thesis!

Once his doctorate was completed, Mr. and Mrs. Williams continued to develop Oak Meadow, expanding it throughout the United States and in several foreign countries. Oak Meadow’s curricula were – and remain – popular with Christian and non-religious families alike, since there are no objectionable concepts – just a focus on the whole child, developmental stages, learning styles, and relationships. Oak Meadow’s materials are created with the agenda of serving homeschoolers through integrating creativity with academic excellence – making arts, music, crafts, and experiential activities a valuable part of the learning process.

The Oak Meadow philosophy is that ideas precede facts in a child’s intellectual development, from grades K-8. In approaching history, for instance, peoples’ stories and the “feel” of the times are the most important aspects. Oak Meadow shares with Charlotte Mason the idea that “real” books, by and about people who actually lived, talking about their times and lives are the only way to teach history – not by textbooks that simply provide a date-based, dead viewpoint. Mr. Williams believes that facts are not an end in themselves, but a means to the end – which is increased awareness. Mr. Williams also believes that intellectual development in children reaches its fulfillment in grades 9-12. Once the child has grown through the stages of grasping the feel and wholeness of the topic, hard facts can then be presented and will take root in the child’s consciousness, providing for an intellectual unity from which one’s own life view can grow and develop fully.

Mr. Williams did not stop at developing book-based curriculum products. Oak Meadow pioneered distance learning as the Internet developed and made homeschooling even more attractive to thousands of families all over the world. O.M. offers high school in both a “Traditional” (printed) and an Online format, where materials, testing and grading of tests are online, and students are able to be more self-directed in their learning.
Oak Meadow continues to pioneer homeschooling instruction by offering online computer instruction courses through an partnership with Career Academy in Boston, one of the nation’s leading Web-based providers of computer training. High school students can learn Microsoft Office Suite, Web Design & Graphics (covering intros to PhotoShop CS2, Illustrator CS2, PhotoShop Web CS2, Dreamweaver) and more!  Also available are Network Engineering Certifications from Microsoft and from Cisco! The tech-savvy homeschooler who seeks to make the most of his/her resources will find these close-at-hand training courses exciting and valuable for potential employment opportunities without a college degree.

Oak Meadow provides a complete academic service in the easiest possible environment. Please visit Oak Meadow’s website, www.oakmeadow.com and let them show you why they have been one of the most popular homeschooling resources for 30 years! MjL


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