Wildcat Community Freeschool

Richmond, CA

No longer in business
Private School
Website: http://www.wildcatcommunityfreeschool.org/
Richmond, CA
Editors' Notes: 
  • March 2011: This school has closed.
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    Archived Q&A and Reviews

    March 2011

    Hello families, I am interested in Wildcat Community Freeschool in Richmond for my child and drove by recently and it seems to have turned into a preschool. Did it move? Close? I would appreciate any information about it. Thanks!

    What happened to wildcat? It closed due to under enrollment. former teacher + parent

    Nov 2009

    Loving the philosophy and idea of Wildcat Community FreeSchool in Richmond and hoping that there may be some BPN folks that have their kid(s) enrolled now or in the past that could share what they think of the school. curious about wildcat

    3rd year at Wildcat Community FreeSchool. Started at 5 years old. Great place to transition from being at home to school. Attend 3 days a week and home school 2 days. We like the music teacher, full-time art teacher, field trips, being next to all those trees at Alvardo park, eating lunch at his leisure, no homework, kid initiated learning and activities and the amount of physical activity. The 3 R's are taught in small classes(3-6 students) based on ability. My kid runs to math and reading classes! The community atmosphere is also a plus. Various cultures, creating diversity. Been a good school for us. Anything that has been a concern has been discussed with the owners, teachers or at our monthly parent's meeting. I've been satisfied with this team approach and the caring staff and families. Good luck. Felicia

    Nov 2009

    Re: Challenging Progressive School?
    Wildcat Community Freeschool in the East Richmond Heights is a progressive school where children are taught in small classes with other kids who are at a similar level, rather than a similar age. Your daughter would be able to learn at her own pace. You can choose to go 3 - 5 days a week; some of the families are part-time home-schoolers. Some parent participation is expected which gives the school the feeling of a supportive community. Much of the time is unstructured and the children are free to choose their own activities such as art, pottery, cooking, games, gardening etc. Our son is very happy there and is always eager to go to school every day, which is wonderful. Their website is wildcatcommunityfreeschool.org Freeschool family

    May 2009

    Hello, I would be really happy to hear from current parents of girls at Wildcat Free School, or anyone willing to address the gender ratio/balance by age, and just girls' experiences there in general. I am curious about the school for my 6 year old who is just finishing public kindergarten, and also for my younger daughter eventually. Many thanks -freewheeling mom of 2 girls

    My two boys (8 and 5) attend Wildcat. There are more and more girls attending now, although at first it was certainly boy heavy. Lets see, right now we have about 1/3 girls. There is a 5 year old girl and about six, 6-8 year old girls as well as two 11 year old girs. In the fall a 5 year old is starting for sure and a couple other families are looking for their kindergarten age girls. Personally (and I do have a girl child, she is 13 tho) I think it is a wonderful, magical place with plenty of girl energy and will continue to grow inthat direction. I would not be at all worried. Sarah

    Dear freewheeling mom, My name is Inbar. I have two girls in Wildcat, 6 and 9 years old (and a 3 year old boy who is not in the school yet). Although the ratio of girls to boys isn't balanced it has vastly improved since we enrolled two years ago. keep in mind that the kids all play together and are not separated to age groups,g mom, except for math and English class. What I found most important is ,to give the kids the chance to be who they are, not only at home but all day long. The school provides loving and supportive environment ,nurturing them through conflicts and troubles. The way they solve problems at wildcat is not by way of top down authority ,but by helping the child understand what is happening inside her. This is what I believe most important. All the best Inbar

    August 2008

    Wildcat Community Freeschool in Richmond is a wonderful middle school option. It is a mixed age, ungraded private school based on the free-democratic tradition. Students are 5-14 years old in K-8th grades. It is a fabulous environmont for a middle school student who desires a creative & compassionate space for learning free from much of the potentially overwhelming pressures associated with middle school. http://www.wildcatcommunityfreeschool.org/index.shtml

    Jan 2008

    Re: Looking for democratically oriented schools
    Wildcat Community Free School is a democratic-style school in the Richmond Hill area next to Alvarado Park. They have no grades (nor even those lengthy written evaluations that are just grades in hiding), no homework, and no tests. Sometimes the kids bring home things they're working on, but that's not the same. Or they test themselves to see how fast they can complete something or how many problems they can solve in a set amount of time -- but it's all voluntary and fun. Their website has been ''under construction'' for a long time, but there's some basic info to be found at http://www.wildcatcommunityfreeschool.org. They have rolling admissions, so if you're looking for someplace right away, you might even be able to get in now. My daughter's been there for four years; she wouldn't consider going anywhere else. anne

    Sept 2007

    Hi. I am looking for a school in the spirit of sudbury in Berkeley area. Namely, the kids are free to do (almost) whatever they want, with no classes and separation between different ages. my kids are 7 and 4. there was a sudbury school in Marin county that was closed last year. does anyone have any idea where did the kids from that school go? Thank you very much Inbar

    I have a wonderful recommendation for you! Its called Wildcat Community Freeschool. Its a relatively new school and had a few growing pains in the beginning years, but is truly blossoming into a wonderfully creative rich environment for learning and growing. Its K-8th, multi-aged learning, wonderfully diverse, community minded, and my kid absolutely loves it (and is thriving). www.wildcatcommunityfreeschool.org is the web address and I would be happy to talk to you further if you have questions. We are having several open houses soon, so you might come and experience a bit of it for yourself. Open house dates: Sunday, October 7, 2007 10am q 1pm and Saturday, November 3, 2007 10am - 1pm Cheers jenn

    The link to the listing of Alternative Schools is shown here: http://www.educationrevolution.org/aero-member-schools.html#California There are quite a few in our area it seems.

    My son goes to Wildcat Community Free School in Richmond near Alverado Park. He's 5 and has been attending since March. He loves it there! He's learning at his own pace, doing lots of art, spends time in nature at the regional park across the street, and has a great community of friends. There's an open house on Sunday, October 7, 2007, from 10am q 1pm. Hope to see you there. http://www.wildcatcommunityfreeschool.org/ Felicia

    My son attends Wildcat Community FreeSchool, which might be exactly what you are looking for and I can actually give you two points of view, as a parent and as staff. Parent: I love that my son can be himself without any expectation of conformity. He is technically of Kindergarten age, but feels equally comfortable interacting with the adults as well as the older kids because everyone at the school has a voice. With the exception of health and safety rules, which the kids know about up front, most rules and decisions are made in a weekly school meeting where student and staff have equal voice. There are regular lessons in the language arts (reading, writing, literature) and mathematics, which are technically non-compulsory although I rarely see kids opting out. I like how the kids can pursue the passion of their choosing, whether for an hour, a week, or a month, and they are supported through their journey, and that journey is honored, as they are. For example, not long ago my son got into the pond equipment and wanted to collect water for the microscope. One of the teachers dropped what he was doing (just a chore of some kind) and off they went to collect Still water and fast moving water to analyze the difference under the scope. Some other kids were interested as well when they got back and it turned into a big lesson on what grows in the creek and where and why. It was cool to watch, even though...no, because it is exactly as it should be. A lot of changes have happened this year, giving the school a new dynamic that parents are very satisfied with. There is close-knit community feeling. Many homeschooling/unschooling families like to have a part-time option that is consistent, provides great resources, and adds a new dimension to their routine. Many kids go full time. When I asked my son what he likes about this school, he said that he likes making things in the wood shop and how the older boys are teaching him how to ride his bike without training wheels and working on the pottery wheel and having math class with his friends. Staff:One of the big changes that happened this year was the addition of two teachers, myself included. This allowed much more time to be spent with each group (by ability not age) in each subject, expanding the possibilities for different kinds of learning and projects. I came from a museum education background, and have always preferred informal learning. Yes, I love that I do not have to work around a standardized curriculum (esp since I do not believe in them) but it is more than that. I am able to follow the students interests and weave a solid foundation into games and crafts and storytelling, etc. I enjoy my interactions with them throughout the day because they are interesting and individual and teach me things too. But mostly I love that they love to learn and I get to assist them in achieving whatever goals they have set for themselves, as well as introducing new possibilities.

    You can start at the school's website www.wildcatcommunityfreeschool.org and we are having an open house the first weekend in October. I will be there, as will many parents to give tours and talk about the school. Teacher and Mama Sam

    The only free/democratic-style school in the Berkeley area is Wildcat Community Free School. Wildcat is not specifically Sudbury, but of course what you find with free schools is that, because they're free schools, they can more easily reflect all the lovely nuances and needs and preferences of their specific community of children and families. No two are exactly alike.

    At Wildcat, yes, the kids are free to choose their paths, academic and social. Children of all ages work and play together. There is a wonderful curriculum unfolding this year in the language arts, sciences, culture and history. The children are roughly grouped by ability/comprehension/ interest, but of course there are no hard and fast rules, restrictions, requirements, etc.

    Wildcat is located in the Richmond View area, all the way at the north end of Arlington Blvd., where it meets McBryde Avenue (5801 McBryde) . Lovely spot! Right across from the entrance to Alvarado Park/Wildcat Regional Park. It's about a 15-20 minute drive from Berkeley. Arlington Blvd. is fairly convenient, but so is 80 (closest exit: Solano Avenue).

    The school is having an open house on Saturday, October 6, I think from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. If you don't want to wait until then, you can call the school at: 510-237-6673. anne

    You should check out Wildcat Community FreeSchool. It's in Richmond across from Alvarado Park.

    The school is ungraded, but serves kids roughly k-8th. The kids play and learn together. The school offers classes, but they are free to choose whether to participate. The school also has a part time option for homeschoolers. My oldest son (6) attends 3 days per week. He loves his school and so do I. It's been a great community for my whole family.

    The school has a website: http://www.wildcatcommunityfreeschool.org/ and an openhouse coming up Sunday October 7th 10-1pm. Syndallas

    Jan 2007

    I recently heard about a very small school with a name like Freedom School, it's either a charter or a private elementary (maybe 15 kids total). The person who told me about it said she thought it was near Wildcat Canyon in Berkeley. So far I haven't been able to find any information about it. Has anybody heard of such a school (or any other small school like this)? I would appreciate any leads. I am the mother of 1st grader at Cragmont, unfortunately it has been a bad match for him and we are looking for a small school where he would receive more one- on-one attention. Thanks

    I think that you are thinking of Wildcat Community Freeschool. It's located at the intersection of McBryde and Park across from Alvarado Park in Richmond. Sara and Kent Fries are the proprietors & instructors. The phone number is 510-237-6673. My five year old son started last fall. He loves it. I love it. My husband loves it. (My 20 month old loves it too). It's a wonderful school and community. The school is k-8, but it's ungraded. The kids are free to play, work and create together. They take their lessons in small groups according to their abilities. Kids have a lot of power and responsibility to make choices about their schooling. Kent and Sara are great. Feel free to email me if you have more questions or call Sara and Kent. Syndallas

    I think the school you may be thinking of is located near the northern end of the Arlington right near Alvarado Park and near the entrance to the East Bay Regional Park District's Wildcat Canyon Trail (near Wildcat Creek). I think it is actually in Richmond or unincorporated Contra Costa County (but not sure) and that is why you may be having trouble searching for it in Berkeley. If you don't get any other leads here on BPN, or can't find it on line or in the phone book for West Contra Costa, I recommend that you drive over to that area and just look around for it. I hope your son can find the one-on-one support that you say he needs, but small schools (with smaller staffs) may not be able to give him that individual attention either, as the other kids at the school need support, too. Have you had your son's needs assessed? If you are looking for a better fit in a school it would be important for you and them to know what exactly your son needs. Do you know what qualifications a classroom teacher or aide should have in order to meet your son's specific needs? Does he have needs that could be met through working with professionals after school or on weekends? Perhaps you can find a way to have him in a school setting of your choice AND you can bring in additional one-on-one skilled help in the classroom. You can talk with folks at your son's current public school about how IEPs work in the public school setting, and how they work if your kid goes to a non-public school (I imagine if you ask the question on BPN someone could give you an answer). Best of luck in meeting the specific needs of your son. He is fortunate to have a person like you that is actively searching for the best fit for him, and to get him the other support that he needs to be happy. Anonymous

    freedom school is across from the entrance to alvarado park where mcbride meets park st. wildcat canyon is just up the street. the sign on the school says that it does not give grades. the curriculum might be wonderful--i wouldn't know-- but building itself is small and the outside play area looks pretty ratty. it used to be a really neat daycare then changed over a year or two ago. too bad that one went under. kmom

    I think it is called Wildcat Community Free School. It is definitely across from the entrance to Alvarado Park/ wildcat canyon where McBryde goes to Arlington Blvd. My daughter went to preschool with the founding family's son and they seem to be lovely, inspired teachers. I believe the kids at the school all helped build and paint the play structures. chris

    August 2006

    A while back there was an open house listing for a school along Wildcat Canyon in Richmond/El Sobrante. The school is run by a couple, mixed-age, and allows students to attend part-time, and most, if not all are homeschoolers. I can't remember the exact name of the school and haven't been able to relocate the website. If you have information about this school, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    The school is Wildcat Community Freeschool. Here is the posting from before. Their website does not seem to be working at the moment, but it is www.wildcatfreeschool.org
      5801 McBryde Ave, Richmond, CA 94805 510-237-6673 or info[at]wildcatfreeschool.org 
    Wildcat Community Freeschool is a mixed age, ungraded private school operating in the free-democratic tradition. Wildcat is an alternative school serving children ranging in age from 5 to 14 years old, K-8th grades. Children at Wildcat shape their own learning experiences, and their choices are respected and supported. From sailing and hiking trips to pottery and construction projects, the school provides solid resources for motivated and meaningful learning in the arts, sciences, math, reading and writing. At Wildcat, the flow between academics and the real world is obvious and natural. The school is located in the Richmond View neighborhood, perched on the edge of Wildcat Regional Park, just off the Arlington Lucy

    Dec 2005

    Does anyone have any information or experience with Wildcat School in Richmond? Thanks. Kalina

    I wanted to respond to the post regarding Wildcat Community FreeSchool in Richmond View.

    I have 2 children attending the school, age 5 and 6, and we are all extremeley happy. While the school is not for everyone if you are looking for an alternative schooling method I would highly recommend WCFS.

    It is a one-room school with approximately 20 students ages 5- 10. It is taught by a husband and wife team, one who has been a public school teacher for 15(?) years and the other who is a professional artist.

    The school does not adhere to one philosophy, rather I think it takes the best of many. It is democratic, the learning is child- led, the kids are free to choose how to spend their time, there is lots of time for playing and art and exploring the FANTASTIC Alvarado Park and Wildcat Canyon area right outside the front door. On the other hand, time is set aside every day for math, reading and writing - the kids sign up ahead of time for what they want to do and when.

    Some of the things I appreciate about this school are the many different age children interacting with each other, the loving attention of the teachers, the fact that I can drop in whenever I want and stay as long as I want, the great location, the fact that my kids LOVE it and the idea that they are in charge of their own learning.

    For those parents who are looking into schools for next year I would highly encourage you to check out Wildcat Community FreeSchool. (It's very reasonably priced too!) Teachers Sara and Kent Fries can be reached at the school at 510.237.6673 maya

    I'd like to recommend Wildcat Community Freeschool as a great alternative to current private schools. It is community based, child-interest led, and multi-aged. The curriculum is a nice balance of project-based academics and art where projects are both tailored for the group and for smaller age-appropriate groups. Learning also utilizes, cooking, the garden, animals and insects , access to Alvardo Park across the street (riparian habitat), and field trips to various locations. Recent trips (often using public transportation)include: the Maritime museum, adventure playground, tidal pools in the Marin headlands, and a sailing trip to Angel island.

    The school has a part time option for those that are drawn to homeschooling but don't want to do so full time. Sara, and Kent, the married duo, add a wonderful gender balance as well as a wide range of teaching experience.

    The school is located at the end of Arlington in richmond. Come by and say hi! Wildcat Community Freeschool :237-6673 I have my 5 1/2 year old in Wildcat Free school and he loves it. He's been attending for a year and our experience just keeps getting better. The school is child-interest led with a great balance of academic and artistic projects. The teachers are a husband wife team that bring a nice female-male balance and the children have a voice and choice. The teacher to child ratio is about 1:6 or 1:7 and all ages ( K+) learn together or in smaller age appropriate groups. There is a strong emphasis in community and there is a part time option that works well for families that don't prefer the usual 5 days a week. If you have any more question I would be happy to chat. jenn

    My son went to Wildcat the first year it was open. I had thought about homeschooling but wasn't completely committed to the idea. In Wildcat I found what I considered my dream school - full of things that other schools have had to eliminate. I liked the multiple ages in one class, no ''busy work'' homework or standardized tests, lots of art, music, physical activity, studying nature, reading. Wonderful activities such as a Halloween carnival, or a scavenger hunt in nearby Alvarado Park. I loved being welcomed in whenever I showed up and getting to be a part of this new community of children and parents as everyone was getting to know each other. Sara and Kent are creative, warm and patient with the kids.

    Unfortunately, my son started showing signs of some learning disabilities that made it difficult for him to fully participate. Although they were very willing to work with him on this, through further assessments I felt he could best benefit from the speech/language and occupational therapy he qualified for. We hope to return to Wildcat School someday, if not with my oldest son, then perhaps with one of my younger kids.

    Obviously Wildcat isn't for everyone, but if you are interested in an alternative approach to education, in a supportive environment, it is well worth looking into.