Holt Associates

John Holt started Holt Associates in 1971 as a way to spread ideas and information about how children learn and how schools can be changed to create conditions that foster independent and group learning that are vastly different from the "teach 'em and test 'em" regime we force children into. By the late seventies, Holt decided schools were not going to change in the ways he suggested (talk about foresight—I doubt John could have imagined how thoroughly managed children's thoughts and lives have become in the 21st century), so he suggested not just alternative schools, but alternatives to school, that people can use to help children learn.

In August 1977, Holt published the first issue of Growing Without Schooling magazine and Holt Associates moved directly into advocacy for helping parents and children learn outside of school.

In 1980, Holt opened John Holt's Book and Music Store, selling unusual and innovative books and materials for and about children. The Book and Music Store inventory, and all remaining back issues of GWS, were sold to FUN-Books. You can still own an original hard copy of the remaining GWS or Holt inventory if interested.

One of the benefits of working at Holt Associates was how we incorporated children into our business culture; though not all Holt Associates were unschoolers, or even parents, all who worked there came to appreciate the presence of children while at work.

Today, Holt Associates Inc. is no longer active. It has been reconstituted as HoltGWS LLC and Pat Farenga acts as a trustee and promoter for the work and publications of John Holt.


Day Farenga reading an order while Alison Farenga observes the office.


Rebecca Mooney packing books while her daughter talks with her.


Children of all ages enjoyed pitching in and working alongside the adults when they wanted to.


John Holt's Book and Music Store sought genuine instruments, tools, and construction sets that let children participate and create things that are useful and real, not kid-style and cute.


Photo left: Lauren Farenga playing a 1/64th size violin.

Photo credit: John Suiter.

Lauren Farenga playing with the handmade, incredibly detailed, wood-cut World Map puzzle made by Pacific Puzzle Co. This was one of our most popular items for many years.

Photo credit: John Suiter.



Contact/About Us