Beaver Creek Academy is where the combination of structured and unstructured play-based learning combined with the understanding of Natural Learning Relationships is experienced within a multiage classroom. Beaver Creek Academy provides learning that nurtures the physical, social, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual development of its learners with active participation from our families. Our educators are well trained and use current research methods to provide quality programming. They also listen to and observe each learner closely to provide the best program and resources to meet each learner’s learning style and interests. We also provide a low educator-to-learner ratio in order to meet the needs of all learners.
The provincially mandated curricula are our reference points when providing learners with a well-rounded understanding of various topics to be explored, and the sequencing in which learners naturally progress through various fundamental skills. We do approach the teaching of the curriculum outcomes by offering a learner-centred, emergent, inquiry approach, as well as co-creating and defining goals. The learning goals for each semester are co-created and named by all key parties: educators, parents, administration, and with the learner (at the level of their capability). Our attention is focused on the process of learning, discovery, independence, and problem-solving skills.
Development is interdependent: emotional, social, cognitive. At Beaver Creek Academy, we know that attempts to hurry a learner’s development are ineffective. Although most learners are able to memorize and recite, these performance skills do not represent meaningful learning. Our program is learner-centred and respectful of the learner’s learning style and developmental capabilities by providing rich environments for learning.
Awareness through the body
Learners will start their morning and afternoon by centring themselves and discovering new activities and experiences that help with focus, concentration, and bring awareness to their inner and outer feelings. This creates mindful space for learners to stay in tune with the sensations they have throughout the day. Learners can apply these tools when they feel upset, need to re-focus, or need to slow down and take a break.
Intention circles/sharing circles
Learners will gather in a circle to connect and share with each other as well as to bring up any questions that may arise within the community. This time will also allow learners to be presented with the invitations or provocations that are being offered during certain times of the day.
Learners will engage in play based learning experiences that provoke creativity, problem-solving, social skill development, and are hands-on/sensory in nature; a variety of inspired learning can develop here. Experiences can be educator guided and may focus more on certain subjects (ex: science experiments, number games, etc.), but we try to engage learners in broader learning experiences where many subjects are being explored within the one experience.
Unstructured play is a key component of our learning throughout the day. Some of the deepest questions arise from unstructured play and many forms of learning are unfolding during this necessary time. It is the role of the educator to stay out of the way of the learners. Simply listen, observe, and offer questions only to have the learners problem-solve and find a solution.
Storytelling, Literature learning, Dramatic Play, Word Exploration, and Writing
Storytelling is a sacred tradition of the Indigenous Culture. As Educators, we use storytelling to connect to the land and to understand the history of our land. We also use it to evoke emotions and thought about social challenges within the world.
Children play with language and words; they make sense and connections to their world through reading, their own storytelling, and dramatic play. Many varieties of reading and writing opportunities are offered during this time. Specific reading and writing strategies are also explored with each individual learner to find the strategy that works for them when they show signs of reading readiness.
Music and Song Study - SongWorks
During SongWorks activities, learning often takes place in the form of singing games. The games provide the context for student immersion in social interaction, movement, language, thinking, listening, and music. Singing activities are designed to be engaging and enjoyable, and at the same time they provide groundwork for serious progressive study and skill development. Challenges that elicit maximum responsiveness from students are constructed by the teacher and provided through the singing games. (songworkseducatorsassociation.com, 2018)
As a forest school inspired program we believe placing nature and the child at play at the centre of learning. Learners will engage in outdoor movement games that incorporate manipulative skills (throwing, catching, striking, kicking etc.) as well as transport skills (walking, running, skipping, jumping, hopping etc.). They will be provided opportunities to learn skills such as making shelter, making fire, using knives, tying knots, using hammers, using saws, and climbing trees. Learners will have plenty of opportunities for movement within all learning activities as well as during unstructured play times.
The Relationship between Environment and Learner
Our learning environment is designed to interact with all of the needs of our learners. Keeping developmental needs, learning styles and sensitivities in mind, we organize the classroom and its materials in calm, inviting ways that foster independence, growth, sensory stimulation, and a feeling of safety.
Our outdoor learning environment is just as essential to our learning and growth as our indoor one. As learners are immersed in the outdoors, they learn directly from the land around them and the effects their actions have on all living things. We spend as much time as possible outside and plan our curriculum around the natural rhythms of the seasons and their changes. Our most inspiring learning comes from the natural curiosities that are evoked from the interactions of our learners with the land.
Relationship between Educator and Learner
Beaver Creek Academy believes that relationships formed between educator and learner is reciprocal. When trust forms between the two, the curiosity of the learner and the guidance of the educator are able to flow genuinely and authentically. This relational foundation is a major focus for all of our educators and helps create a safe, rightful place for our young learners.
Relationship between Learner and Learner
Learners at Beaver Creek Academy work together in the multiage setting; learning can occur through support with their older peers or through leadership with their younger peers. The deep relationships that form within our community between learners are those of a true community. We take care of each other’s needs and support each other in our learning; we offer each other perspective and we honour everyone’s ideas and thinking.
At Beaver Creek Academy we know that competence comes from the experience of living and not from the intellect alone, nor from the perfection of any aspect of performance. The pedigree of experiential learning draws on the work of Jean Piaget, John Dewey, Carl Jung, Kurt Lewin, John Holt, and David Kolb to name a few.
At Beaver Creek Academy we engage experiential education because:
Knowledge is formed from direct experience combined with the learner’s readiness and individual development.
Experience allows the learner to penetrate further and further into nature and themselves.
Strength of direct experience helps the learner make better choices.
Competence cannot be acquired without experiential knowledge.
Competence is developed in real-life practical accomplishments and informal interactions in the immediate intimacy of the moment.
Ability to adapt and live a meaningful life is the result of experience.