Frequently Asked Questions

What ages does True North serve?

In the first year of the program (2020-2021) the ages of TN's learners ranged in age from 4.5 to 9. Enrolled for the fall of 2021 we have learners 4.5 - 12 years of age. We look forward to growing the program into a community that serves learners of all ages.

How does True North differ from a conventional school?

True North is a learning community. We do not operate legally as a school as that would inhibit the freedom of our learning community. TN offers a supportive community for families who wish to be outside the box of conventional schooling so they may enjoy the freedom to determine the nature of their child's education and maintain sovereignty over their family's lifestyle and schedule. Below is a list comparing a few basic aspects of conventional school and the TN learning community: Conventional school

  • children are separated by age
  • grades are administered as a way of evaluating and comparing children's performance
  • attendance and obedience is compulsory
  • learning is extrinsically motivated
  • teaching is oriented to testing
  • children must ask permission to fulfill basic bodily needs such as going to the bathroom, eating or freely moving their body and usually may only do these things within certain pre-determined timeframes during the day
  • children are taught what the state has mandated
  • children are indoors most of the school day
  • teacher oriented and hierarchically structured
  • children are not allowed to socialize during class
  • play is seen as an "extra" that is to be fit in only after the important work of learning is done
  • compliance and good grades are what defines success
TN learning community
  • mixed-ages
  • no grades are given, we do not believe in comparing children's varying strengths
  • consent-based
  • learning is intrinsically motivated
  • no tests, learning is determined by the individual's interests
  • children are in charge of their own body and may eat, rest, move or go to the bathroom whenever they need to
  • children learn what they are interested in while being immersed in a rich and exciting community environment
  • children spend their days immersed in nature and the world outside of the four walls of a conventional classroom
  • learner oriented and community structured
  • children determine for themselves when they want to be socially engaged or when they need time to themself. Through a well-tended social-emotional container, children are supported in healthy social engagement
  • play is seen as central to a child's learning and well-being
  • success is determined by the well-being of the whole child

What opportunities are there for the parents to be involved?

TN welcomes the participation of parents and family members. We believe in the benefits of a multi-generational community. Parents and grandparents, aunties and uncles, siblings and family friends...all are welcome to contact TN to discuss volunteer opportunities. Read this excerpt from an article by Tom Hobson to understand how we want to welcome families at TN: "Children don't come to us as individuals, but rather as members of families. As co-author of the latest update of New Zealand's highly-regarded national early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki, Brenda Soutar says, "As Māori we enroll the family, not the child, and that child comes with their ancestors surrounding them." She speaks of school, not as an institution, but as a family, and she tells us that the smallest Māori family unit is 70-80 individuals, and that includes ancestors both past, present, and future. The goal, she says, is not independence, but rather to foster interdependence."

What are our Covid-19 protocols?

Covid Safety
We practice safety by being outdoors 100% of the time, washing our hands regularly, having small group size, daily health check upon arrival and reminding participants of proper hygiene etiquette. Anyone with a fever or feeling sick in any way may not attend the program until 48 hours after the fever and all symptoms have ceased. Masks are optional during program hours. The children are not required to social distance. 2020-2021 has been a very healthy year at TN and we look forward to maintaining that. Thank you everyone for your cooperation!

What are the steps to enroll?

  • peruse the website and available resources
  • contact us with any questions by emailing Heather at:
  • fill out the application form found on the "forms" page of this website
  • once the application is received, you will be contacted via email and a phone conference will be set up along with a visit to the program if possible
  • when it has been agreed that TN is a good fit for your child and family you will fill out an enrollment agreement, pay the application fee, materials fee and first month's tuition
  • your child will officially be enrolled

How do children learn without a set curriculum?

Children are born with the natural learning drives of curiosity, playfulness, sociability, and the desire to be in charge of their life and learning. When those drives are supported rather than interfered with (through coercive educational approaches) authentic learning will flourish. Children forced to learn will often do only enough to satisfy the authority figure. Whatever they learn is easily forgotten. But those who learn out of their own choice and interest will retain that knowledge for a lifetime. Self-directed learning fosters a child’s internal motivation, which is a much more powerful driver to learning than external coercion.