How It Works

Here's an overview of education at Alcove. The three main ingredients of our approach: check-ins, inquiry, and community. The basic mechanics for fitting them together. And how Alcove differs from a traditional school.


At the heart of our program is regular one-on-one guidance. When a young person joins Alcove, they'll be paired with one of our core staff members. Once a week, for about 45 minutes at a time, kids and their mentors will talk about everything from long-term academic and career goals, recent challenges and triumphs, ongoing creative projects, apprenticeship opportunities, and most importantly, what they're getting curious about right now.


When two or more members want to start a course at Alcove, we find the faculty to teach it. Our core staff can cover a lot of ground themselves. And when a topic falls outside our areas of expertise, we recruit volunteers from the community to lead the way. Alcove members are also welcome to design and lead courses themselves. And we offer a number of other ways to learn as well: independent study, workshops, co-learning, individual tutoring, and test prep.


We keep Alcove small to foster a sense of community and belonging. This gives our common area the feel of a shared workspace. We've broken down artificial walls between grades, letting kids of all ages interact and learn from each other. And every year we try to launch a long-term project that everyone can get involved with; like a theater production or a short-story collection. For us, "community" also means engagement with the city at large, through internships, member-motivated field trips, and activities with neighborhood partners.


Alcove isn't a magnet or a charter or a private school. We're an education non-profit. Which means the official way to join our program is to register first as a "homeschooler" in CA. Don't worry, we're here to help you fill out the paperwork. And don't be thrown off by the terminology. We're not a school; and there's nothing in particular you need to do at home. What Alcove offers is a structure, community, and dedicated staff to help young people direct their own educations. For information about current fees, see our membership page.


Here's what you won't find at Alcove. Tests. Grades. Homework. School bells. Mandatory attendance. Anything you haven't opted into. Of course, meaningful learning calls for dedication and periodic evaluation to see how things are going. But dedication has to come from within. And evaluation doesn't have to be rigid or judgmental. Our mentors offer qualitative feedback and help members assess their own progress.