Children are respected and treated as equals. This is the most important core value and everything else stems from that. We respect children as independent individuals and their interests, emotions, ideas, and also their natural pace of development by not judging them. In times of conflicts, children will learn to deal with the issues and bear the consequences, when their rights are respected and their emotions are accepted.
We believe self-directed learning is the best form of education because it gives children complete ownership over their learning. Through self-initiated activities and experiences, the children are free to flow from one activity to another for as long as they are interested. Resources, including help from staff, are always available, and further resources from outside the community can be requested. We trust children and know they understand better than anyone who they are and what they need. As a result, they discover what’s meaningful to them, and self-awareness becomes an integral part of their character.
Every member in the community is responsible for his or her own decisions. When we enjoy freedom, we should also take full responsibility for the consequences of our decisions and actions. Children are in charge of their days, their learning, and their lives. They decide how to spend their time each day, what they want to learn, how they are going to learn. They set their own goals and figure out how to accomplish the goals. They deal with failure and learn from mistakes.
Imaginative, interactive, children-led play is central to our community. Play functions as the major means by which children:
- develop interests and competencies
- learn how to make decisions, solve problems, exert self-control, and follow rules
- learn to regulate their emotions
- practice at the tools of their culture
- make friends and learn to get along with others as equals
- experience joy (1)
Play is important to us because it is such an integral aspect of child and adolescent development.
The beauty of free age mixing is that it promotes growth for all members of the community. When younger and older children freely-associate, learning accelerates. The younger ones are exposed to more advanced skills and knowledge often leading them to observe and engage in more complex tasks. Older children act as role models developing leadership skills and a sense of responsibility for others. The staff also add to this age-mixing magic by taking on many roles as friends, advisors and facilitators with the ultimate goal of promoting an environment where each child can flourish.