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  • How do kids learn if you don't teach them?
    We do teach them, but even if we didn't they'd still learn. We all learned how to crawl, to talk, to walk without direct instruction. Rather, we observed those around us, experimented and built those skills at our own pace. In learning communities where individuals are valued and have autonomy, we all learn from one another. By encouraging children to determine and set their own goals and providing them with community and support, we give them the desire and drive to reach those goals.
  • How can they meet Alberta Education requirements?
    We are a democratic and child-directed community, but we also provide support and tools around setting and meeting their own goals. Children are encouraged to make active choices on what they are using their time for, they use a variety of tools and resources to set their goals, track their progress and make adjustments. This does not mean that the work that they do is not "valid". In Alberta, the learning outcomes are clearly defined and they offer a lot of flexibility in how they are achieved. Our parents will need to register as traditional homeschoolers and will meet with a homeschool facilitator twice a year to access their child(ren)'s progress. Your assigned facilitator will help you navigate the process. It is not difficult to meet educational requirements while supporting children's educational autonomy. Math, reading, science, history, social studies and much more are touched on frequently and often in great depth. A lack of curriculum does not mean there is a lack of learning. It's quite the opposite in fact! Kids have a thirst to learn that is remarkable to see when it's allowed to grow unhindered. Students interested in pursuing a high school diploma can do so as well!
  • What about bullying and fighting?
    We have only 3 pre-requisite rules for joining our community. Those are our "Three R's" Respect Responsibility Reason We treat one another, our communities and our spaces with respect. Everyone is held responsible for their choices and actions. Reason is applied to everything. We work through disagreements with all three. Learners are first encouraged to attempt to resolve their own conflicts using respect, responsibility and reason. Most of our conflicts end there. Generally disagreements are not difficult to resolve once both parties communicate. However, should that not be enough, our second step is to involve a facilitator. They will listen to each side and try to help them meet a mutually agreeable solution. Should that not work, they can then request it be given to a judicial committee. This committee is formed of other children and facilitators and does not involve anyone who witnessed the disagreement. Both parties present their "cases" and the committee confers and makes a final decision on the matter. Both parties are supported and guided every step of the way, treated with respect and held accountable for thier own parts in the conflict.
  • Why are all ages together?
    Age segregation is only really found in schools. It is not a natural or life long thing. By having all ages together, everyone benefits. Older kids get to sometimes behave in younger ways than they otherwise would. They get experience as mentors and leaders and they gain a sense of leadership and opportunities to actively practice patience and compassion. Younger children get role models, mentors and the opportunity to observe the skills and goals they might choose to try for themselves. Everyone gets chances to learn from a variety of skill levels, experiences, attention spans and learning styles. It is truly inspiring.
  • How can I be sure this is a good fit for my family?
    We have an interview process after registration so you can meet us and we can meet you to see if Chinook Free Learners is a good fit for you. Like every other method of education, it is not for everyone. It requires a certain amount of trust in your children and their community that can be unnerving sometimes, especially for those who are accustomed to thinking of education in terms of traditional school settings. Our kids thrive in this environment, but it is not always straightforward, easy or on your schedule. Patience, trust and the ability to support your children's autonomous choices is critical.
  • What if my child wants to graduate high school?
    We are child led, that does not necessarily mean "non-academic". Teens who want to earn high school credits and graduate will be able to do that. The biggest difference will be that it will be their choice and done their way. We can support high school students working through distance learning, through alternative credit routes or through researching alternative pathways to their specific goals. The idea is not to meet requirements just for the sake of requirements, but to support that child along their own custom path of learning. That can include everything from rigid academics to none at all. Their goals and plans will determine what they choose to do.
  • What if my child only wants to play video games?
    This response is from the Agile Learning Centre's website: "What if? They might improve their reading and spelling skills, practice problem solving, or exercise their creativity. They might learn to collaborate with others, develop the ability to track multiple moving objects more accurately, or practice reading maps. Maybe they’ll be inspired to study programming so they can design their own games. Or to attend indie game conferences and write reviews of games in development. Or become interested in a period of history or social justice issue that is explored through a game. Where is this question actually coming from? Sometimes, a parent notices that their kid becomes cranky or easily frustrated after spending a large portion of the day playing a video game. In that case, it’s valuable for the parent to speak with the student, helping them recognize how their choices impact their mood. Sometimes the issue is that a parent feels like their tuition money is wasted unless their child tries one or two offerings each week. Sometimes the parent has anxiety about their own screen-use habits. Facilitators recognize that it’s important to help parents identify and voice their specific objections to their kids. The parents and students can then make agreements around screen use, which facilitators will not enforce but are glad to support both parties in keeping. Arthur Brock has an excellent blog post for those concerned about kids’ screen use." To this I would add that a community like ours can often be self-governing and recognizes these issues themselves. Take for example our South group. Some of the children felt that some of the others were not playing as much with them and found that frustrating. They raised the issue during a meeting and the children held a discussion about screen time and use. Eventually they all came to the agreement that they would collectively limit their gaming time to 1 hour a day. This allowed them to make the best use of the time they have with their friends in coop. Video games was something they could do at home, so had a lower value point than time spent with friends. When kids can make their own choices, even ones we might not agree with ourselves, they will often surprise us.
  • Is there evidence that this method of education actually works?
    There is! Lots! Sudbury Schools have been in operation for more than 50 years now and there are more than 60 schools operating around the globe. Agile Learning Centres have been operating for 6 years now and have 5 schools operating in North America, including one in Quebec! Windsor House School in BC had been operational for 45 years. Many kids who have gone through Sudbury schools have been very succesfull in their lives. Our world is changing quickly and we must adapt our education methods to match. for more information about these schools, check out their websites: - Windsor House School, BC - Agile Learning Centres - Sudbury Valley School, USA
  • I'm intrigued, but I have more questions..."
    Great! We are so passionate about this method of education and we love sharing it! Check out the links in the question above (Is there evidence this method of education actually works?), come visit our campus for a day, follow our Facebook page and group and our blog (found under the Blog menu option above)! We have a blog that is written by our facilitators and a blog that is written by our kids (and uploaded by our web maven). If you still have questions, keep your eyes peeled for our info nights, they'll be posted on all our social media as well as under the Events page above. We're sure that you'll end up just as hooked on this method as we are! Learning side by side with these kids is a real privilege for those of us who facilitate, and so much fun!
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