Riverton’s Lil Red Tiny House provides gathering place for homeschool studentsOct 12, 2023 01:21PM ● By Morgan Olsen
Lil Red, a tiny house for homeschool families to gather, opened in March. (Rachel Haymond, Lil Red)
A new resource for homeschool families is emerging in Riverton - a tiny house called Lil Red. The Lil Red Tiny House provides a place for homeschool families to gather, which is often one of the biggest challenges that comes with homeschooling. Lil Red aims to take this unique approach to homeschool education in order to accommodate study areas and gathering spots for homeschool families.
“We opened Lil Red in Riverton in March 2023, and we have been growing ever since,” Rachel Haymond said, a parent and leader of the group. “Our goal is to create a place for homeschool families to gather, share curriculum and share experiences together.”
Lil Red is a nonprofit started by Patty Witham. Witham believes in individualized education and creative approaches to learning, and she started Lil Red as an avenue for homeschool families to gather and implement those concepts in their education.
“Lil Red is a nonprofit organization committed to supporting homeschool families and their communities,” states the organization’s website. “Lil Red Riverton is the first Lil Red tiny school in the country and currently serves over 50 children from Riverton and surrounding areas.”
Witham’s vision for Lil Red is largely dependent upon community involvement and support.
“Patty started Lil Red because she wanted to give back to the education field,” Haymond said. “She doesn’t have any kids of her own and she is a really out-of-the-box thinker. She set up lilred.org and has had three tiny schools built so far. Her goal is to eventually open Lil Red schools in various locations throughout the country. Homeschool families don’t have places to meet, so Lil Red aims to be a solution to that challenge.”
The Haymond family became a pilot family for the Lil Red program earlier this year when Witham posted an ad seeking homeschool families who would be interested in implementing Lil Red in their community.
“We love being a pilot family for the Lil Red program,” Haymond said. “There have been lots of really cool things that have come from it. It threw me into a leadership role where I’ve been able to meet a lot of fantastic families that I might not have been able to meet before.”
One goal of Lil Red is to involve local neighborhoods in homeschool education. The tiny house is integrated into the Riverton community as it resides in the Haymond’s backyard.
“Lil Red is in our own little neighborhood,” Haymond said. “We have a little leave-a-book, take-a-book library in our yard to help get the word out about what Lil Red is and what we do here. Most of our families are from the neighborhood, but we are seeing it start to expand past that through word of mouth.”
Haymond says she also volunteers the use of Lil Red for different events in the community to help fulfill Witham’s goal of community involvement in homeschool education.
“We try to get involved in the community in different ways,” Haymond said. “This summer we donated Lil Red for the Patriot Camp as the arts and craft station. Lots of kids came through that each day and we’ve also pulled Lil Red in parades this summer. We got some fun feedback and it helps people know we’re here.”
Lil Red isn’t necessarily about creating a standardized curriculum, but sharing ideas and concepts with other homeschool families to enhance individualized education.
“Patty doesn’t want to have any say on what Lil Red teaches their kids,” Haymond said. “She wants parents to teach their kids what they feel most comfortable about. She wants to create a platform to share ideas about what people are doing but not dictate any sort of curriculum.”
Families involved in Lil Red find it to be a valuable resource for their children both socially and academically.
“Lil Red has been a great resource for our family to gather and learn with those around us,” McKell Anderson said, a parent at Lil Red. “My kids love the various spaces to be able to work as a team or study alone.”
The Lil Red house is designed with learning and studying in mind and gives students plenty of space to gather and study with fellow homeschool students.
“Lil Red is built for learning and has great natural lighting and lots of seating options to move around and the kids love choosing their favorite places to settle in,” Anderson said. “Being a homeschooled family, it’s great to gather and learn together with other families.”
Eventually, Lil Red plans to open thousands of tiny schools across the country, providing thousands of homeschool families the benefits Lil Red has offered and will continue to offer those in the Riverton community.
In order to keep Lil Red running, fundraisers happen periodically, and donations are encouraged from families who participate.
“Each family is encouraged to donate a little bit every month to contribute and be an active part of keeping Lil Red running,” Haymond said. “We have unit celebrations and different activities out here and it’s really fun.”
in being part of Lil Red, donating to Lil Red, or learning more about the program can visit lilred.org. λ