Home in the Woods

In the fall of 2017, we hosted a storytelling event called “School of Life”. Our intention was to bring people together in honor of one of our core beliefs: that learning is natural and happens all the time, regardless of one’s proximity to a classroom. It was a great event filled with unique stories and varied lessons, and so we thought it’d be fun to carry that idea forward into this space.

The first story we’re featuring was shared by Jeff Yoder, a parent of two children at Little Lake.


When I was a child I lived on a dead end street that backed into a city forest. It was about 15 acres of land and provided me and my friends endless hours of entertainment. We would build forts, climb trees, and make noise away from the hustle and bustle of life (and away from supervision). I loved it so much that I became convinced that my REAL family lived in those woods. I would tell my parents that my real home was in the forest and that I was just living in this house temporarily. Eventually they became concerned when my story didn’t change. One day my dad took me into the woods and said “show me where your real house is”. I excitedly took him around the woods, convinced that I would find my real family at last.  After a while, when I couldn’t find it, I had to accept that my real family did NOT live in the woods. I was sad but moved on.

Later in my life my partner and I got the chance of a lifetime to invest in a patch of woods just outside of Ypsilanti. It would stretch our budget but we felt it was worth it for the opportunity to one day have our own house in the woods. A few years later the housing market turned around and we were able to sell our beloved Ypsilanti home and start the construction process. I had always dreamed of building a house and finally had the means to make it a reality. I studied technique, made lists of tasks, made a budget, and convinced a bank that we could build it for half of what they thought. Using the resources available to me– YouTube, books, advice from tradesmen friends, and prior experience, we were able to complete each task. Our community came to our aid, giving us countless volunteer hours, and we pulled every ounce of effort to finish the house. Now my family lives in the woods, just as I always knew it did.

I feel that somewhere along the line I learned that I can find the resources to complete any task and that I don’t have to be an expert before I engage in the things I want to do. In the end, that skill proved more valuable to me than the specific information I picked up in school. Provided that my children learn that skill, I am confident that they will be able to do anything they want. Little Lake Learning Community affords our children an open, honest, caring, and respectful place to learn who they are, what they care about, how to gather resources, and how to serve their community. They have a great time going to school and look forward to each day and what opportunities it will bring them.

Do you have a story to share? 

-Where/how did you learn what was most important to you?

-Did you learn something at school that wasn’t on the curriculum?

-Who, or what, have been the greatest teachers in your life?


Submit your stories and questions to littlelakefs@gmail.com


Include your name and a brief description of the story you’d like to share, and we’ll contact you with details.

Our first post!


Welcome to the Little Lake Learning community blog! We think it’d be great to track what’s going on and to create a place to tell our story. Here are the basics: We are an unschooling cooperative (we’ll talk more about what that means very soon!) that serves ages 5-18 and is based in Ypsilanti, Michigan. We’ve been open since 2010 and are operated collaboratively by students, parents, staff, and volunteers. Check out our “About” page to learn a little more about our philosophy.


Every morning at Little Lake we gather for a quick and fun meeting where everyone lays out some intentions for the day. This can range from the practical (like “stay hydrated”) to the absurd (“escape prison” or “be the guardian of the stairwell” or “don’t die”- all actual intentions that have landed on that board in recent weeks…). It’s helpful, even in its goofiest manifestations, to just bring some consciousness around what it is that we’re doing and why we are doing it. In that spirit, here are the intentions for this blog:


–We’d like to be a resource. We benefit from the sharing of others, especially as a small and alternative learning community. It’s been helpful to find mentors and inspiration outside of our immediate network, and so it makes sense to us to include that service in our own outreach, as well as pass on the resources that we’ve found helpful to us.

–We’d like to be open about our learning process. We realized that the larger community has questions about what it is that we do and how it all works, and we’d like to answer them! Not long ago we put out some feelers into the community-at-large and asked what they wanted to know about us. The response was overwhelming! Questions poured in, and we saw an opportunity to really address this stuff–not only for the community’s benefit, but also for our own. As much as we’ve all worked on perfecting our elevator speech, it’s just not that simple. We need a space to tease all of it out–both in terms of sharing what we already know about ourselves and our philosophy, but also because we care about transparency and honesty in our process. We want to share what we are still working on and how we are growing and learning together.

–We have fun things to share! The day-to-day happenings at Little Lake are really interesting and worthy of sharing. These kids are learning constantly, often in ways that are just plain entertaining to all who observe them! We thought that this space could be an outlet for some of their fantastic creative energy, as well a fun way to tell some stories that convey the various ways that really substantial learning happens in this environment.





Check for our posts in the coming weeks! Feel free to comment, message, or even submit ideas for what we should offer in this space. If you are interested in supporting us on a regular basis, check out our Patreon page– we would be so grateful!