Frequently Asked Questions
When did The Mill School open?
The Mill School (TMS) opened its doors to 20 students for the first time on Tuesday, September 10th, 2013.
Do families at the Mill School submit a notice of intent to homeschool to the state of Maine?
Yes. The Mill School is a three-day-a-week program and as such cannot assume responsibility for the Maine State education requirements. Therefore families whose children attend our program must legally file an intent to homeschool with the state. Please click here for more information about Home Instruction in Maine.
How much is tuition?
It is very important to us to have this educational opportunity be accessible to families who value it. Teacher compensation, rent, and payroll taxes make up the bulk of our budget. We actively work to keep tuition as low as possible while still valuing our teachers and providing a safe and enriching learning environment where children can thrive. Please visit our Enrollment Page for more information.
Is homework part of the curriculum at The Mill School?
Generally speaking, there is no weekly homework. Occasionally children will continue working on a project at home. For example, when a child has chosen a big role in a play with many lines to memorize, the child will work on the lines at home. When a child would like to continue writing a story started in school, or take home a math game to play with a sibling, or do some research at home about a project begun at school, the children's work is appreciated and honored.
Does The Mill School have a religious affiliation?
No, we are not a religious school. We value diversity and joyfully include students of any race, color, religion, family structure, and national or ethnic origin.
What role does technology play at TMS?
We believe in the value of limiting screen time for children. Photos are used for documentation purposes as they can be powerful reflective tools. A classroom iPad is occasionally used for researching a question that has emerged while at school.
Is music a part of the curriculum?
Songs are integrated into our routines. Rhythm sticks, shakers, and stomping or clapping routines often accompany songs.
Is physical education part of the curriculum at The Mill School?
Children at TMS have ample opportunities for large motor activities. There are teacher-led outdoor activities and games designed to build community and also strengthen bodies. There is a movement component to our Morning Meeting each day. There is time in the day for the children to romp in the outdoors and play tag, slide along the zip line, swing, jump rope, and dig in the dirt. We hike around on the mill property and the adjoining farmlands. Physical education is present in these ways.
Is there a place for children with special needs at The Mill School?
Whether The Mill School is a good fit for a child with special needs depends on the particular needs of the child, and also on the family’s goals for the child. We are confident that we are able to discern whether we can meet the needs of your child by meeting and talking with you directly. If you have a child with special needs, please contact us so that we can talk about whether this might be a good place for your child.
How do you handle the age range in the classroom?
In every elementary and middle school classroom, a wide range of academic exposure and abilities exists across the curriculum. For example, reading levels in typical fourth grade classrooms with a single teacher often span from first-grade level emergent readers to readers who are comprehending at a ninth grade level. In a third grade classroom there may be children who are working on mastering single digit addition and subtraction as well as students who are ready for the challenges of early algebra and long division. These wide ranges also exist at The Mill School. At our school, each teacher is responsible for 8-12 students during workshops. We choose topics an units of study that are appropriate and relevant for the ages we are teaching. Lessons are presented with multiple access points and a variety of expectations based on the individual students and their prior experience with a specific topic or concept. The children often work in pairs or small groups. The teachers work with individual students as they master new concepts and skills.
What are the benefits of a multi-age setting?
A multi-age classroom works well in a number of ways. Learning communities that span a range of ages encourage understanding of individuals. The teachers learn to view each child as an individual with a multitude of qualities and abilities which are not all at the same developmental level. In addition, children learn to value each others strengths and qualities rather than seeing each other solely in terms of grade membership. Over time there is an increased independence of the children from the teacher, as the children learn to use each other as resources. In multi-age settings relationships have more time to develop. Over the years profound relationships emerge between the teachers and the students, among the students, and also between the teachers and the families.
How is the renovated mill a good place for a school?
The stream, falls, pond, woods and wetlands all provide for incredibly rich and meaningful environmental explorations at the renovated mill. The history of the mill, which was originally built in the 1830’s, offers a valuable lens to look at the ways in which towns were formed throughout New England. The new renovations were made with the school in mind, so the beautiful indoor environment is just right for children.
The renovated mill is located in Freedom Village. This location offers the opportunity to connect to local businesses and to the surrounding community. The mill property adjoins the property of Villageside Farm, an organic diversified family farm. Villageside Farm has generously offered their lands for exploration, as well as to be connected to TMS through projects and relevant units of study, adding another layer to the rich curriculum rooted in local communities.