Have you heard about our Infinity School? It is an Acton Academy program started in London, ON last September by Andrea Loewen Nair (a psychotherapist/ parenting educator as well as a school administrator) and Dr. Vineet Nair (a family doctor).
We’re having a great first year and wanted to let you know that we have included children ages five and six to our program for the 2017-2018 school year.
The program we use for our children ages five to seven is called the Nesting Quest program. This is one designed by Acton Academy and is predominantly a Montessori approach to early learning.
In this nesting quest, our young students gain mastery of early reading, writing, math, and problem solving by following a fun travelling-style program. They each get a suitcase, which contains their learning materials and a map to the different learning “islands” they visit as part of a well-rounded education. The children progress independently so they can zoom through nesting quest into our modular Badge programming or take as much time as needed to gain mastery of each of the skills.
Examples of some of these islands are: Reader Island, Serpent Island (math), Isle-of-many-shapes (writing), and Counting Island.
In addition to the Nesting Quest, our younger learners are part of the whole group Infinity School team for their project-based learning, play time, and school operation committees like “Town Council,” and “Conflict Resolution.”
Here are a few things to consider if the Infinity School program is right for your child/ family:
- We have a positive environment. Due to the small class size, positive discipline and conflict management training of all our staff, behaviours like bullying, shaming, and teasing are very rare. This can be said both of the students and the staff. Our adults don’t ridicule or use negative punishment (like taking away recess, sitting on the wall, or lines) to help our kids improve their behaviour.
- We are focused on the process of learning, not the content of it. The technology available to us now makes it less important to Learn to Know –we can look anything up at anytime. Learning to Do and Learning to Be have become more important as our children face a future we can’t even imagine. We don’t make children learn or memorize content just for the sake of knowing that information.
- Students learn at their own pace, to mastery. Our Acton Academy program includes module-style learning, which allows the children to gain significant competence in a skill or learning benchmark before moving on. For example, no more getting dragged through a (sometimes redundant) quickly paced math curriculum!
- There is NO HOMEWORK or a need for tutors or supplemental education! Why don’t you read through this point and the three above and see if your child would like to come to our school? J Most kids we speak with throw their hands up in a “hurrah” when we mention that there’s no homework. Research still fails to prove that homework is helpful and necessary, and is often a great source of stress for families. We have designed our program so that the students have ample time for their work during the day and don’t need to take anything home.
- We use real-world apprenticeships and project-based learning. In apprenticeships, the students have the opportunity to get out into the community to learn valuable and practical skills. In addition to their personal core-skills learning, the students work together for part of the time on solving challenging real-world problems.
- We use adaptive technology – each student gets a Chromebook and there are other computers to use on site. According to the Acton Academy co-founder, Jeff Sandefer: “Acton isn’t pro-technology, but we use powerful game based programs for areas like Math, as well as relying on the internet to bring experts and the world to us. We don’t dismiss technology out of hand. If it’s a useful tool, process or habit, we use it, whether its Khan Academy or a walk in the park.”
- We grow critical thinking skills using the Socratic Discussion method. This is a style of discussion where the participants are challenged to make tough decisions, take sides on a particular topic, and be able to verbalize what they are thinking. The adults don’t lead these chats: they facilitate the discussion to help the students come to their own conclusions. Critical thinking skills will be imperative in the future, as is mentioned in this recent Toronto Star article: Teaching kids to think critically is crucial for their future.
- We have a student-centered schedule. The kids are given many opportunities to get into the flow of their work as well as take necessary breaks to keep the learning juices going. In addition to a great daily learning schedule, we use a “modified year calendar” so everyone has much needed breaks throughout the year.
- We have created a modern one-room schoolhouse environment. Our school is a “micro-school” where children from a range of ages spend time together – there are so many benefits to doing that! Our small group of kids allows individualized attention and support. We have a great adult to child ratio: no more than eighteen children to one adult.
- We use the Hero’s Journey metaphor to help each child find his or her calling. This is a concept developed by the great scholar of mythology, Joseph Campbell. We talk about the various stages of the journey and use the metaphor to help the children be more prepared for the life ahead of them: failures, successes, times of trial or transformation, and where to look for mentors along the way.
- Our school is a student-led (learner-driven) environment. There aren’t teachers up at the front of the room conducting boring lectures! The students are provided with experiences and a framework with which to learn—they become responsible for their learning.
There are other key parts of the school to learn about and invite you to visit our Facebook page to get more of a day-in-the-life feel of what goes on here. Our events open to the public are posted there as well.
Please do read through our website and consider if your child would like to come spend the day with us to see if our program is a good fit for your child and also that your child is a good fit for the students already here. In addition to five to seven-year-olds, we are also accepting applications for children up to age twelve.
We also have some camps this year (these are both half-day camps):
Make & Play camp for children ages 4 to 6, and
Maker camp for children ages 7 to 12.
Please click here for more information and to register for these fun camps.