Educational Approaches

What will children learn?

At Free We Grow your child will learn all sorts of things. They’ll learn how to move their bodies and trust in their bodies. They’ll learn how to be at home outdoors across the seasons.They’ll learn about materials; leaves, wood, metal, stone, soil, water, and they’ll play with these materials a lot. They’ll learn about plants and animals.  They’ll learn how to use words and express their ideas. They’ll learn at their own pace. They’ll learn how to collaborate and share and express boundaries and respect others’. They’ll learn how to fight – for what they believe in. They’ll learn how to navigate conflict. They’ll learn how to listen and just how much attention they’d like to command. They’ll learn that others think differently to them. They’ll learn how to rest and slow down and read and daydream.  They’ll learn how to build and fold and measure and observe and describe. They’ll learn how to plan. They’ll learn how to initiate and follow and encourage and celebrate. They’ll learn how to mourne and how to say good bye and how to welcome and celebrate. They’ll learn what they’d like to learn.

Free We Grow draws inspiration from many educational philosophies, approaches and practices. Here’s a collection of some which have inspired us, in alphabetical order!

Agile Learning Centers

Agile learning centers are small learning communities which use a set of tools to support self directed learning and intentional culture creation. ALCs are rooted in a subsoil of trust and a set of 9 principles including amongst others, infinite play, visible feedback and relationship. You can find out more about ALCs here:

Decolonising Education

Over the last few centuries, the process of mass schooling has systematically sought to impose a set of implicit and explicit values on what is learnt and how it is learnt. The school system prioritizes certain forms of knowledge over others, for example which languages are more important to learn, valuing being sedentary over movement, valuing mind over body or sharing a narrow, white and eurocentric version of history.

The school system, and in particular the examinations system has also colonized humanity by defining success. The experience of learning becomes a competitive one by default, shadowing other forms of knowledge creation and collaboration.

We are interested in actively challenging these systemic tendencies. This is done by making space for a rich and diverse emergent curriculum, refraining from measuring progress and examining children, and curating the space with resources which reflect more diverse ways of knowing.

Inspiring organisations working in this field include the Ecoversities Network and Shikshantar Andolan.

Democratic education

Democratic education is a broad term which denotes an educational space where young people and adults have equal power in shaping their learning and culture creation. It tends to go hand in hand with self directed education. Often democratic settings use voting as a means of decision making. At Free We Grow we see our roots as based in the tradition of democratic education but are moving towards a more consent based practice. You can find out more about democratic education here:

Nature Play/Pikler

See our section on Nature Play here!

Place based learning

Place based learning values local places, communities, heritage, culture, environments, landscapes and stories as fundamental to children’s identities and sense of self. It recognises that direct connection to place forms a foundational relationship, and that it is through meaningful relationships that we learn.  You can find out more about place based learning here:

Project based learning

Project based learning is the default learning style that happens at Free We Grow! This is because children are interested in events, ideas and things, and it is through exploring real world interests that they are able to delve deeply into topics. You can find out more about Project Based Learning here:

Rewilding Education

Rewilding Education is a new community of practice based in the UK, but with tentacular roots globally, where parents and alternative educators are sharing practice and seeking to understand how we can support a move towards more equilibrium and diversity in the education system, using ecological principles of rewilding applied to the education system. Rewilding withs ecological systems is a process by which land which has been damaged, intervened in and managed for productivity, is allowed or enabled to return to a more wild and balanced state. Can the same process be applied to the education system? We’re wild about finding out!

School without Walls

School without walls refers to the idea that school and learning can happen within a broader urban campus and can be freed from the confines of one building. A number of innovative school without walls projects were initiated in the United States in the 1970s, and today some mainstream education providers are recognising the value and richness of an urban setting as a learning playfield. In some sense, school without walls is how learning has always happened until schools were invented.

Self directed learning

Self directed learning is a lifelong approach to learning where the onus is on the individual to take initiative and shape their learning journeys within a supportive environment.  There are a number of conditions which facilitate self-directed learning including free age mixing, plenty of time to play, having access to the tools of one’s culture and having supportive allies. You can find out more about Self-Directed Learning here:

Sociocracy, circling and Roundspeak

Sociocracy is a form of governance which enables all members of a community to have a say and shape culture, not through majority rule voting, but rather through consent based decision making. At Free We Grow we circle, which simply means going around the circle to hear everyone’s views. We use a tool called roundspeak to structure our meetings and make decisions. Both the children’s meeting and the holding team meeting operates based on roundspeak principles. You can find out more about Sociocracy here: about circling here:  and about Roundspeak here:


Unschooling is a way of home education where children are trusted to learn through living.  Unschooled children can take part in any number of activities and pursuits, driven by their own curiosity. “ Children who are unschooled learn the way most adults learn – out of a sense of curiosity and necessity” (Unschooling explained – Faire of the Free Child Podcast). It is in essence a liberatory practice which at its core challenges assumed and inherited power dynamics, considering the formatic nature of child-adult power dynamics as a basis for other oppressive social norms.


There are many more approaches and resources which we’re inspired by and are in the process of updating this list!