Educating Children the Way Their Brains are Designed to Learn
Our academic approach is influenced by some of the major thinkers in psychology - especially humanistic and developmental psychologists such as Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, Mary Ainsworth, and Erik Erikson - alongside some innovative thinkers in childrearing and education including Magda Gerber and Janet Lansbury; John and Julie Gottman; and the Montessori, Waldorf, Sudbury, and Reggio Emilia approaches to education. We strive to create an environment that embodies diversity, equity, accessibility, inclusion, and belongingness. We offer a cutting-edge, one-of-a-kind fusion of these approaches developed by our founder, a developmental psychologist who has spent more than two decades studying and treating children and families with a goal of promoting healthy child development. Click here to learn more about The Farris Method's innovative and transformational approach to education.
Our one-of-a-kind academy uses principles of child-directed learning, scaffolding and mentorship, and unschooling to offer flexibility in following children's leads and to teach them in ways that correspond to what their blossoming brains are ready to learn. Our academically gifted students receive a personalized curriculum that allows each of them to start at their roots and fly up to their highest potential as a learner and a human being.
A Day in the Life of a Flying Tree
Here's an overview of what a typical day looks like at Flying Trees Academy:
8:45 – 9:00 a.m.: Arrive at FTA
9:00 – 9:30 a.m.: Yoga followed by a Morning Meeting and Planning Session
9:30 – 11:00 a.m.: Work Period #1. Academic time that may consist of group lessons or students choosing an activity to work on using the educational materials in the classroom. Throughout the week, each student gains a variety of work experiences in multiple disciplines (reading, writing, math, history, science, art, etc.), with a focus on student-directed, project-based, cross-discipline learning. Students can take a break to eat a snack with their classmates during the morning work period.
11:00 – 11:30 a.m.: Activity Period. Students engage in physical activity (e.g., outdoor play, indoor play, aerobic activities) to release energy, focus on socioemotional and behavioral development, and refresh the body and mind after their work period. (Note: We continuously incorporate academic learning into the physical activity period! Mentors prompt students to read, perform mathematical operations, develop and test hypotheses, investigate nature using technology such as the Seek app, etc. in fun and authentic ways while they're being active.)
11:30 – 11:45 a.m.: Mindfulness Meditation
11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.: Lunch. Children eat together and practice valuable social, emotional, behavioral, and self-regulation skills. We may listen to an audiobook or watch an educational video, do a read-aloud, or listen to a calming meditation script for the first half of the lunch period.
12:15 – 1:15 p.m.: Work Period #2
1:15 – 1:30 p.m.: Afternoon Meeting: Reflect on today's wins and plan tomorrow's goals
1:30 – 2:00 p.m.: Activity Period #2
2:00 p.m.: Dismissal
Our unique approach is inspired by Sir Ken Robinson's framework regarding what's worth knowing
(Robinson and Aronica, 2016, Chapter 6). Rather than getting caught up in specific topical knowledge, our approach to learning is framed in terms of eight core competencies, or things that we want our flying trees to learn:
Curiosity: The ability to ask questions and explore how the world works.
Creativity: The ability to generate new ideas and apply them in practice.
Critical thinking: The ability to analyze information and form reasoned arguments and judgments.
Communication: The ability to express thoughts and feelings clearly and confidently.
Collaboration: The ability to work constructively with others.
Compassion: The ability to empathize with others and act accordingly.
Composure: The ability to connect with the inner life of feeling and develop a sense of balance.
Citizenship: the ability to engage constructively with society and to participate in the processes that sustain it.
Students will develop these competencies in the structure of interdisciplinary work that encompasses, but isn't limited to, the following disciplines (listed in alphabetical order):
Humanities (e.g., geography, history of the US and Ohio, and government)
Language Arts (i.e., reading, spelling, and writing)
Physical Education, Health Education, and Safety Education
Science/STEM (including physical, life, earth, and social sciences as well as technology, coding, and engineering)
You might be asking, "But what textbooks will you use?" or "How many hours will students spend on math each week?" It depends! We help each student learn what they need to know in the way that's best suited for them to learn it. We have prepared the environment with materials and mentors to support various learning styles and levels, so we don't need to be tied to a specific, pre-packaged curriculum. This means that each student's day at Flying Trees Academy will be individualized so everyone can learn to the best of their ability. Students love the process because the process was designed to work for them. We ensure that students are learning by conducting formal and informal assessments throughout the school year... not for the purposes of funding and standards-reporting like in traditional schools, but rather to identify each student's strengths, become aware of areas where they may need additional support, and ensure that they are excelling both developmentally and academically.
To our knowledge, we are the only academic program around where students are continuously mentored and observed by a developmental psychologist who serves as the program's Director and Lead Mentor. Our students' classroom activities are supported by Mentors with advanced training in psychology, child development, and education. This creates an educational context that's very different from traditional schools in which faculty and administrators are often well trained in pedagogy and subject matter but have limited training in child development and the psychology of education, or have too many demands on their plate to attend to each student's individual needs. We have created the most optimal environment where young people can grow into the best versions of themselves as human beings while also growing into leaners who excel academically. We take great pride in watching our students deepen their roots and sprout their wings as they become flying trees!