“Play is the highest form of research.” ~ Albert Einstein
Play is how children learn and process their world. Children need intense play in their earliest years of development, when they learn more and faster than any other time in life. Not only do children make meaning and construct models of the world through play, they also practice their physical, intellectual, social, and emotional skills.
“When you teach a child something you take away forever his chance of discovering it for himself.” ~ Jean Piaget
We live in the information age, where knowledge is available at your fingertips. Because students are free to explore and interact with other students and adults of all ages, they are exposed to a wide variety of topics. Students follow their curiosity and interest, which isn’t limited to a set curriculum.
At Sudbury, young people learn “the basics” by pursuing their passions. When a child is ready and willing, the basics like reading, writing and math are quite easily learned without formal instruction. For example, if a child wants a gerbil as a school pet, they will be motivated to learn math to see if they can afford it with the school budget. They will be motivated to read how to care for the gerbil. They will be motivated to write to put the gerbil discussion on the school meeting agenda. As well, in a multi-age environment with supportive staff, students are surrounded by older and younger people with varying skills and abilities. Every person is not just a student but also a teacher! In the Sudbury environment, learning is natural and organic.
Any type of imposed/forced/coerced “academics” or extra-curricular activity runs contrary to our school philosophy. The deepest learning happens when it is chosen and pursued by the learner. Think about your deepest and most powerful learning experiences. Were they forced upon you or did you choose them willingly? Imposing curricula on a young person sends the message that they don’t know what’s best for themselves. Sudbury is self-directed learning so students can tap into their interests, passions and strengths and go deep with their learning. Coerced “learning” simply doesn’t work. This can be a challenging concept for parents who come from a traditional education background. Supporting and trusting young people to direct their own learning is a key role for Sudbury parents that should be part of your consideration if Sudbury is right for you.
It is quite possible that your child will spend all day on the computer. With all of the negative media attention surrounding screen time, it is not surprising that many parents are concerned about this. We recognize that computers are the most important tools of modern society and that there are many advantages to playing with them. Furthermore, computers and gaming are very social activities at our school in which students engage with each other, learn from each other, and problem-solve together.
“All I am saying … can be summed up in two words: Trust Children. Nothing could be more simple, or more difficult. Difficult because to trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves, and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.” ~ John Holt
Human beings learn constantly. You are learning right now. Young people learn constantly too. It is not something that is confined to the four walls of a classroom. Young people learn with and without teachers. They learn from computers, books, friends, observation, nature, writing, thinking and more. Learning is a natural part of being human. You can’t stop it but you can get in the way. Traditional education provides a very narrow model of education and promotes that learning only happens in a classroom with an adult teacher talking at you. This is simply false. At Sudbury, we provide an environment of freedom that naturally allows young people to learn in many varied ways and environments.
We do not judge students by their interests and skills. Instead, we encourage students to trust their own assessment of themselves and of their efforts in meeting personal goals and challenges. We enjoy celebrating with them the successes, failures and explorations along the way.
“What I have learned, very slowly and painfully over the years, is that children make vital decisions for themselves in ways that no adults could have anticipated or even imagined.” ~ Hanna Greenberg, founder of Sudbury Valley School, in The Art of Doing Nothing
Although we practice non-interference as much as possible, staff are always present and available to help students at any time. Staff are also responsible for the administrative and operational functions of the school. They are with the students inside and outside and participate as full members of the learning community at School Meeting, Judicial Committee and other committees and clubs.
We recognize that parents make the biggest decisions in a child’s life. Not everything has to be put to a vote, but the more your child feels control over his or her own decisions and the more his or her opinions are valued at home, the better this school will work for your family.
Statistics from the longest-running Sudbury model schools demonstrate that 80% of Sudbury graduates go to college and 80% of those get into their #1 school of choice. This is on par with graduates of high-performing “traditional model” schools. Sudbury students go into a wide variety of careers and stand out to admissions counselors because of the confidence they have in themselves, their field of study and reasons why they are choosing a particular institution. The experience to choose your own learning path in K-12 prepares them well for life as a college student.
Yes. If you are interested in visiting the school, please contact us
to make an appointment. We also regularly hold information sessions at the school. Upcoming dates are listed on our home page
15 students or less for each staff member.
SSA has ongoing admissions. Students may enroll at any time during the year. Students are eligible to enroll any time after their 4th birthday.
No. SSA is a democratic learning community run by students and staff. Parents are not involved in the day-to-day operation or governance of the school.