Our school is not for everyone, nor do we believe that this is the only way or the best way to educate every child. As a parent looking at Small Acres, there are a number of questions you must ask yourself. The first being: Am I comfortable leaving learning in the hands of my child? This can be extremely worrisome for many parents and unacceptable for a large number. Fears about future A Levels, concerns about reading levels and secondary school will keep many parents from looking seriously at Small Acres. It is very difficult to maintain faith that a child will learn when he or she is ready, it is hard to let a child ask for help rather than pushing that child, especially when there is so much concern today about the failing educational system and the need to achieve a certain grade. Many schools today seem to have the idea that pushing the student to perform is the only way to ensure a quality education and a secure future for the child.
It is important for parents who are considering sending their child to Small Acres, to examine their personal definition of the word 'learning'. By learning do you mean a specific set of facts? Are there certain things that 'must' be learned? Are there certain things, in your opinion, that must be learned by a specific age? At Small Acres, we strive to foster an environment that gives children the freedom to pursue learning in their own way: to build, jump, run, read, draw, write, play, experiment when, how and if they choose. Memorising addition facts would not be defined here as 'learning' maths, (though children will choose to do this from time to time) yet math skills are built into many activities, games and plans. If you want to make a proper bow and arrows you need to measure the wood, if you want to play Risk you will learn about probability, if you are sharing out the Lego you will be working with division. Children enjoy collecting things and categorising them, perhaps creating a Venn diagram in the process.
We believe learning is innate. It is something that every human being strives to do, it is at the very heart of the human experience, that is, unless or until, a love of learning is squelched by an environment in which the child ceases to thrive.
This is not to say that children do not thrive in a traditional school setting, many do. But if a child does not conform to the school setting, that student may be doomed to fail. The child who has difficulty sitting still in class, the late reader, the early reader, the child who is artistic and "needs" to create, the child with so much energy that he "must" run and climb. These children are often among those not served by the traditional school environment. There is a cartoon making its way around Facebook: a teacher sits at a desk and says to the students "For a fair selection, everybody has to take the same exam, please climb that tree". The students are a penguin, an elephant, seal, dog, bird, a goldfish and a monkey. The point? Judge a goldfish by it's ability to climb a tree, and it will be judged to be stupid. That is paraphrasing a quote supposedly from Einstein, who by the way, did not do well in school and credits school for putting him off scientific enquiry for a full year after leaving the classroom.
Our goal at Small Acres is to nurture the enquiring mind, keep the love of learning alive and give the child space and time to discover a passion or a life-long interest, a space to learn in his or her own time and own way.