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student concentrating Each student is in charge of how to spend his or her time at school.

teen plays drums, younger child watches Students can interact with others of all ages.
a painting project Students' goals and methods are their own.


Our philosophy is based on the fact that children naturally want to learn the skills needed to grow into capable adults. And just like grownups, they want to be free to choose how they will become successful. At Diablo Valley School, we take this natural desire for self-direction seriously, allowing it to propel children into independent adulthood. Given the freedom to pursue their interests for as long as the interest lasts, and the structure to ensure their activities are neither infringed upon nor infringe on the rights of others, children learn what they need.

The freedom to choose how one will spend one's time every day, coupled with the obligation to fulfill one's duties as a member of the community, builds personal responsibility and citizenship.

The Basics

Students at the school are free to do anything they find interesting as long as the activities do not infringe on the rights of others or endanger the school. All rules are written and enforced democratically, giving students a true sense of ownership over the rules and the school itself. The need to rebel is reduced, and the opportunity to lead is increased, by the experience of having control over the environment. Respect becomes a natural part of everyday life.

One of the foremost principles of our philosophy is a respect for play, which -- for children as well as adults -- is what we do when we are most creative, most engaged, and most intensely focused. Unfettered time for conversation allows the exploration of varied ideas, interests, and social relationships.

When given the time and the space to decide what they want to do, students look deeply within themselves and discover just what it is that they need to be doing at any given moment. They learn to trust themselves and their own needs, so that they are able to make decisions about their actions throughout the school day. Without the constant barrage of adult agendas placed on them, students learn what it is like to be responsible for knowing themselves and finding out what their individual passions are.