Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are The Barn School structure and Self-Directed Education (SDE) similar to Montessori style of learning?
Interestingly, by the end of “Grade 8”, most SDE learners are so skilled at teaching themselves that if they wish to transition to public school, they make that transition fairly smoothly, though they remark that there is a big difference in styles. Once they figure out how group testing and evaluations work, they are usually at or beyond grade level for required subjects and show a lot of resilience and passion in their educational pursuits.
2. Will the Barn School be outdoor, nature-based similar to Learning in the Woods or is this something totally different?
3. What happens if our child wishes to pursue post-secondary education? Would they be at a disadvantage due to lack of testing/grading?
4. Will you have before-and-after care available?
Answer: The school will be open 7:30-5:30 and learners can attend anytime within those hours. So in a sense, yes we have before and after care.
5. What is your philosophy and approach for children with Special Needs?
Answer: The Self-Directed Education model is built on the way humans, and all mammals for that matter, naturally learn; through play, social interaction, curiosity, and pursuing interests. Through these pursuits, children pick up the skills they need so that they can have a fulfilling, contributing role in our society. We prefer not to assign labels within this educational model, but sometimes they serve a purpose. If your child arrives with a label indicating special needs, so long as they feel this is a good learning environment for them, we’re happy to give it a try.
*Please note that children with a
Some children with Autism find Self-Directed Education learning environments to be a good fit because, like other kids, they are free to pursue their passions and see what amazing opportunities arise from those pursuits. For kids with alexithymia, our consistent use of non-violent communication (language that articulates feelings and needs) is helpful. This is an environment that values social learning where all children are given significant time to identify and communicate about feelings. It is an important part of learning for all of us.
Gifted children tend to appreciate a Self-Directed Learning Environment because they can set the pace and direction of their learning. Their learning pursuits are limitless! They have access to a wider community of resources and can pursue opportunities with people who are just as passionate as they are. Gifted learners can sometimes struggle with feelings such as frustration or impatience and this environment is designed to offer regular support with those feelings. With the competitive aspects of traditional learning removed, it also becomes possible for learners to develop friendships outside of their age bracket.
ADHD learners have a lot to gain from a Self-Directed Education Learning Environment. With the freedom to make their own choices about how to spend their time, ADHD learners get a chance to work *with* their natural tendencies. That may mean spending significant time outdoors where boundless energy can be a strength or where the calming effects of nature can help a learner focus. This style of education encourages learners to pursue interests until they recognize their body needs a break with no
We mean it when we say that we value secure attachment and that is especially important when we are working with learners who express anxiety. We believe that it is important not to push the child to participate, they are not forced, coerced, threatened, or shamed. They get to be the ones to decide what they are ready to do. (This is often contrary to
In fact, all children under the age of 6 and learners who request it will have a transition plan in place before starting at The Barn School. This transition plan will allow your child to make the transition confidently and by choice as opposed to being forced into this learning environment.
Children with medical diagnoses may require a uniquely structured learning environment so that they can receive treatments or heal at a pace that is natural and easy. If your child requires an environment that is less stressful so that they can get healthy, we are happy to discuss if our learning environment might be a good fit.
6. What ages are you accepting or registering?
Answer: We run
7. Does The Barn School provide sports, physical education, and extra-curricular opportunities for the students?
Answer: One of the big advantages to The Barn School is that learners will have unlimited time to pursue activities of their choice including individual sports, multi-age team sports and games, and recreational activities. Let’s say a group of learners would like to learn sailing, horseback riding, parkour, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, tennis, swimming, gymnastics, or cross country running…these pursuits could easily be made available to the group during learning hours. Perhaps your child has a passion and would like to offer to teach the group? If your child is looking for age level, competitive team sports that large, traditional, public schools and larger private schools offer, it will be tricky for us to offer those sorts of competitive age-level sports teams in our micro school of less than 50 multiage kids. However, if your child is interested, we could look into what opportunities might be available in our larger community.
8. Are there options for part time attendance?
Answer: If your child is under the age of 6, we’ll accommodate you as long as there is space. Children who are homeschooled are welcome to use our school to supplement their learning at home by attending half days or half the week. A copy of your homeschooling letter to the local school board is required to participate this way. Children who are working as dancers, models, actors, or training in athletics are also welcome to use The Barn School to supplement their learning or find ways to be with us fulltime and integrate their learning. We are open to exploring other possibilities too! Let us know what you are looking for! Learners who attend public or catholic schools will not be able to attend The Barn School during school hours, as required by the Ministry of Education.
9. Are scholarships available?
Answer: Yes, please follow this link to read more about Financial Aid.
10. Do you offer transportation?
Answer: This is something we would be willing to consider exploring further. Please let us know if this is something you would be interested in.
11. What makes The Barn School unique?
Answer: We are a community interested in creating a paradigm shift. We believe strongly in the values of freedom, trust, community, and love. That may sound cheesy but those are the tenets that guide us! We are committed to a culture of peace, where the adults in particular, are consciously working towards an environment of “power with” as opposed to “power over”. That is unique considering that we live in a culture with many layers of hierarchy. We do our best to offer The Barn School as a space that values young people as *people* to the fullest extent possible. It is our belief that our safe space encourages young people to be self-awareness, confident to voice their requests in the world, and respectful in their interactions with others. We like to think of ourselves as offering young people a think tank environment where they can hone their skills, explore the world, and then, when they are ready to leave our school, they do so with passion and excitement.
12. For younger children, do you do time out? How do you handle discipline?
Answer: To us, time outs represent leaving a child without the support to move forward in a positive way. Time-outs often involve shame and judgement and we’re not about that. Nor do we have time-ins actually. To us that is an adult deciding where a child will be and what they need in a moment when they are in pain. If a child is struggling to express their feelings, needs, and requests in ways that others cannot understand, we offer to step in and help using Nonviolent Communication techniques. We stay with feelings as long as the person feels like expressing them. We celebrate those feelings actually, as they give us clues so that we can better understand our needs and help us figure out what we really want. We believe solutions to problems emerge when opposing parties connect, so we spend our time helping learners to connect with themselves, communicate their thoughts to others, and trust that they will find a solution.
13. What is your take on technology?
Answer: This is a hot topic for many families and I can understand why, but we make a concerted effort to give children the opportunity to explore the technology that interests them without being fearful of it. Technology also includes hand tools, sewing machines, rock tumblers, kitchen tools but I have a feeling you are referring to computers, tablets, and phones. These devices help us connect with people we may not otherwise have access to in our daily lives, learn, and provide joyful entertainment. There can be negative aspects too, which provide useful opportunities for in-depth discussions about values and critical thinking. We love those conversations! Bring ‘em on! We refrain from making technology a reward or a scarce commodity, to avoid a heightened desire to use it. We keep it neutral and offer options, flexibility, and time for reflection so that learners can make choices around technology that work well for them. We encourage everyone to find their individual balance.