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Welcome to Goleta Family School

Goleta Family School (GFS) is an alternative public school program housed on the Foothill School campus, offered by the Goleta Union School District to families with children in kindergarten through grade six. For more than 30 years, GFS has been providing a child-centered curriculum with an emphasis on creative expression, independent thinking, cooperative social skills, environmental education, and family participation. 

At GFS, children build relationships in our multi-age classrooms (K-1, 2-3, and 4-6). Our students learn to be active participants in the life of their community by working together in small groups. Our teachers facilitate these small groups, providing them with the opportunity to experience some of their own problem-solving strategies when learning new concepts. This allows them to take risks in a safe environment, supported by their peers and teachers. Younger students in the classroom learn from more experienced peers, and older students deepen their understanding and learn to be supportive mentors. All GFS students participate together in daily community activities, as well as outdoor school days, plays, singing performances, and projects.

GFS operates under an agreement with the Goleta Union School District, originally formed in 1981, and revised in 1998 and 2016.

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Multiage Learning

Learning takes place everywhere, at all times, and is an active process. Our philosophy recognizes and supports the premise that positive self-image enables students to become active participants in their education. Discovery, exploration, and choices in learning give the children the tools they will need to succeed.


Multiage educational practices are grounded in a philosophy that holds that every child can learn and has the right to do so at their own pace. We strongly believe that learning is a continuum process rather than a series of steps. By purposefully structuring a class to include a span of ages and to take advantage of the resulting diversity, an atmosphere of nurturing is created rather than one of competition. The teacher finds themselves supporting each individual child as to their own complex set of needs rather than trying to lead a group of students to complete an age-based step.


A cooperative, non-competitive environment for our students is created with the help of a curriculum called We Are Crew.  The Crew program empowers children by encouraging self-esteem, teaching cooperative problem solving skills, and giving children a voice in the classroom. An important component of Crew is a daily circle in which the children practice attentive listening, mutual respect, the right to pass, and sharing appreciations. These norms provide a behavior code that the students follow in the classroom and on the playground.

Each student has a big or little buddy within the K-6 program. These buddies are placed together with two other buddy pairs forming their multiage Crew. Student meet with their crew each day for Community Snack, and they have special Crew challenges or projects together every Friday. Over the years, GFS students learn to be attentive guides to their little buddies. The development of these mentoring skills is a critical component of our program.  

Parent Involvement

Parents/guardians (hereafter referred to as “parents”) are an integral part of the instructional program and, while final decisions about curriculum are left to the teachers, they have the opportunity to be involved in decisions affecting their child’s education. Parents agree to take an active role in the educational process through weekly participation in the classroom.  That participation can take many forms, including facilitating small group work, teaching whole class lessons in which they share special interests or skills, working with students one-on-one, or assisting the teacher in ways that serve the individual classroom or the school as a whole.  While the default is to volunteer in the classroom, parent participation in the classroom is at the teachers’ discretion.  If a teacher feels the classroom participation is not serving the community, then that parent will be given other responsibilities.

GFS is a community in which students, parents, and teachers are actively involved in teaching and learning from one another. Everyone shares in community decisions and responsibilities.  Through cooperative involvement in learning, each student, parent, and staff member is a partner in GFS.

Parent Crews

The second component of parent involvement at GFS is the Goleta Family School Parent Teacher Association, or PTA.  The GFS PTA is a non-profit organization under the umbrella of the California PTA and is subject to the same regulations. The primary role of a PTA is to build strong working relationships among parents, teachers, and schools, in support of students. In particular, the GFS PTA works to support the teachers in carrying out the curricular goals of the program.

Monthly PTA meetings make it possible for every parent to have a voice, to raise concerns and engage in creative problem solving with other parents and with the teachers.  Every parent is assigned to a Goleta Family School PTA Parent Crew, based on his or her interests and talents. 

These crews, which fall generally into the categories of enrichment, fundraising, community building, and outreach, are absolutely essential to the day-to-day operations of GFS. GFS families are expected to consider the way their individual gifts and interests can best serve the community and follow through on that commitment. The vital importance of parent participation in carrying out the curricular goals of the program cannot be overstated. The program won’t work without committed parent involvement, both in the classroom and as part of the GFS PTA.

Interested in learning more?
Please see our Enrollment page.

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