Adolescent Programs


MIDS: ages 10-13 (see below)

Ditchschool: Ages 13 and up, please see

MIDS: Merging Individual Development and Scholarship and offers learning experiences that are passion-based, are connected to nature, foster social and environmental justice, include mindfulness practices, and provide early college opportunities.

Our trained, experienced mentors deliver self-directed unschooling coupled with opportunities for gifted/advanced studies and includes weekly specialists. Specialists are experts in their fields, delivering instruction in primitive skills, arts, and music. We meet in person Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at our location in Old Topanga.

Why alternative schooling?

Traditional Middle and High Schools do not work for all teens. If a student is not doing well in school or does not enjoy school, parents become worried. This is such an important time in a human's development, it is crucial that teens be given the opportunity to be among peers, be mentored by loving adults, and be free to explore their passions. Being surrounded by younger children, older adults, other teens, and the nature world and given the freedom adolescents are designed to explore, individuals often overcome school trauma and flourish emotionally and academically.

What about Algebra? What about college? Those questions come up a lot when discussing free schooling programs. Many colleges love homeschoolers, unschoolers, and free schoolers. And, truth be told, unless you are studying advanced mathematics or engineering, there is little use for Algebra, other than it is the primary content area on college entrance exams. There are two solutions here . . . either chose a college that does not require the SAT (there are many) or prepare for the SAT and study Algebra just before the exam. Like any foreign language, Algebra can be learned much better in an intensive immersion rather than an hour a day for 180 days. Of course, Algebra is but one example of typical middle and high school content that can be learned more effectively if it needs to be learned at all.

Early college is also an excellent choice for freeschooling/unschooling/homeschooling students. Via online or in-person classes, students can study with experts in the fields of film, science, history, art, anthropology, and more. Feel free to explore for more information or reach out to Jessica at

At PETALS, a group of teens meet three times per week. They work together on college classes, community service projects, test prep, or just hanging out. They may, in collaboration with parents and mentors, schedule their week so that one day they participate in an outdoor adventure such as mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing, surfing, horseback riding, etc. A second day might be a city cultural experience such as an art exhibit, festival, or museum. The third and fifth day could be a combination of art, music, dance, or whatever pastimes the group share coupled with academic study for exams or high school or college course assignments. The last day of the week might be dedicated to their passion project or community service work. No matter the specifics of the schedule, teens will be working together to develop relationships and achieve their educational goals in a positive and free atmosphere and in collaboration with experienced educators.