Who are we?
We started from three moms who had a vision for a better means of education in the Calgary area. From there we learned everything we could about how to foster independent, self-reliant learners and learning environments. We spoke with other schools that had done this, other people who had been where we were and who had created schools and learning centers that sparked creativity, self-directed education and helped students grow into strong, responsible members of their learning communities. Eventually we were ready to put our own learning and education into practice and formed Chinook Free Learners for our first operational year. We're a diverse group with a variety of backgrounds and professions behind us. What we all have in common though is a passion for learning and a firmly held belief that kids need responsibility, self-direction and community as well as support and guidance. We are student-led and fully democratic and all together we collaborate to support the most important work of childhood - the discovery of the world around them through authentic fascination, experience and play.
Kids are people, people need community and autonomy
When a child is placed in an environment where they are allowed to be who they are, allowed to learn what they want to learn and when they matter to the people around them, they can't help but thrive.
We work together as a community, young kids and older, all together. The children take care of policies, learn to resolve conflicts in appropriate ways, and are equally invested in caring for their community and their school. We all clean up together, we all make choices together, we all solve problems together. Through support, value and community our kids learn to care for themselves, their environment and each other. Adults offer support and suggestions when asked, but largely they are there to help the kids achieve their goals and ideas.
Modelling tried and true conflict resolution practices that allow children to first try to solve their own conflicts before involving a facilitator or their community, each child is treated equally and has the same options, voice and respect as everyone else. They are offered tools and methods to resolve conflict that allow them to form their own solutions, to have support in forming solutions or to ask their community for support and guidance. Our kids have surprised us with their creative and thoughtful solutions to complex problems.
"Play is the highest form of research."
Life long learning, life long skills and life long confidence
Learning and growing in a community where one is valued for who they are, for what they want to learn and for their own individual life plans and goals builds resilient, happy kids who understand how to achieve their goals, how to work in a community and how to take responsibility for themselves.
Children today are growing up in a very different world than we did. The skills, knowledge and methods of education we needed are not valuable to today's children. The future will be in the hands of the entrepreneurs, the self-starters, the creative problem solvers and those who are able to build community in creative and efficient ways. Our children need an education that fosters these skills and abilities, that teaches them how to make the most out of their own interests, abilities and drive. That teaches them how to make good choices, build community and how to rely on themselves and their abilities to learn what they need, when they need it.
Chinook Free Learners is committed to providing kids with an education that will meet the challenges they face in the future, not one that teaches to a world that no longer exists.
We currently operate out of two campuses. Our North Campus operates on Tuesdays and Thursdays and is located just off Confederation Park.
Our South Campus operates Mondays and Fridays in South Calgary at the St. Paul's Anglican church in Sundance, just off Fish Creek Park
Both North and South campuses are welcome to attend a third optional day at the Seton YMCA and library on Wednesdays from 9 to 4.
Both campuses start at 9 AM sharp.
The North campus ends at 3, the South campus at 4.
Start and end times are subject to change if the group collectively chooses.