Free play (without adult direction or influence) in a multi-age environment is the one clue that will always give away a self-directed learning space.
There are plenty of progressive schools that tout "multi-age" classrooms that include two to three, generally elementary, grade levels. (Here is a reminder of the difference between progressive and self-directed education from Peter Gray.)
Yes, they are technically, but without an age span of at least 4 - 6 years - they, on the whole, miss the developmental and educational benefits of a multi-age environment. Our fiercely independent young children learn important concepts from the tweens & teens, and then, on the flip side - the older kids learn patience, kindness, responsibility, curiosity, and how to be silly - with abandon and joy. The life lessons within those shared experiences and respectful relationships will likely last a lifetime.
And when you introduce the modality of free play - it is beautiful to behold.
We intentionally replace the word "work" with "play" in every context. We model playing with words, food, numbers, paint, social concepts, science experiments, music and instruments, problem-solving, and all our creative pursuits. We engage every single one of our senses, ask questions, experiment, get messy, and make mistakes that we then learn how to fix. In this way, we reintroduce learning as something fun and exciting to kids who previously considered it a drudgery and something to dread.
Self-directed learning is indeed a paradigm shift of gigantic proportions - where a passerby may see (and hear) loud, boisterous, untethered, chaotic, and noneducational activity - I experience the unfiltered and joyful essence of happy kids taking on free exploration and natural learning opportunities while gaining massive amounts of knowledge that is pertinent to them in an environment where each individual is celebrated for who they are.
We've had a week to decompress from our Halloween Jamboree adventures. Thanks again to everyone who made it a huge success.
And thank you to everyone who participated in our October 50/50 Raffle. The winning ticket was drawn by VG, our birthday kiddo, on Halloween. The winner came to the Center on Thursday to pick up the check for 727.50! She very graciously donated a portion of it back to us. This was our second 50/50 Raffle this year and both had considerable winnings. keep an eye out for our next raffle.
Our fundraising efforts are just beginning - stay-tuned for our annual funding appeal letter and other opportunities to support Deep Root Center. As always, you can donate one-time or monthly, or sponsor a DRC Kid.
Both Centers will be closed this coming Thursday & Friday for Veteran's Day and a well deserved Staff Day of R&R. Enjoy these photos from the past week.
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