Teresa Eckstein’s family has been involved in alternative education for nearly a decade.
Traditional school didn’t feel like the right option when their oldest son, Owen, was ready for kindergarten, she said.
“We were really looking at the smaller class size, the individualized curriculum — appreciating the uniqueness of the child, and not expecting him to adjust or conform to one style of learning,” Eckstein said.
Now, Eckstein has a fifth-grader at Olympia Community School and a eighth-grader in the Alki Program at Reeves Middle School in Olympia and helps private schools network.
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Families who are interested in nontraditional education programs can do some one-stop shopping Saturday at the Olympia Area Alternative School and Preschool Fair. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be 1-3 p.m. at Olympia Community School, 1601 North St., Olympia.
Staff and teachers from more than 20 school programs, including public and private programs in preschool through grade 12, are expected at the event. Among the expected participants: Nova School, Olympia Waldorf, Lincoln Options, Phoenix Rising, Marshall Middle School’s CSI program and Dancing Rainbows, an in-home “nurturing naturalists” program on Olympia’s west side.
“I think part of the hardship is finding programs that fit people’s schedules and their location and their beliefs in what they want to provide for their child,” said Susanna Stratton, teacher and manager of Dancing Rainbows. “This is a great opportunity to be able to meet with directors and teachers without having to drive all over the place.”
Eckstein said Olympia Community School has hosted private school fairs in the past, but this is the first one that’s focused completely on alternative programs.
Many private schools, particularly those that are faith-based, often use a traditional approach in education, she said.
Alternative schools “usually emphasize community and working together (with) multiage classrooms where kids can learn from each other,” she said.