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Embracing the Natural Cycle of Learning

At the White Barn, we consider our style of learning a “hybrid model.” This means that we are educating children using nature and outdoors, alongside the traditional schooling method in order to prepare children for Pre-K/Kindergarten classrooms. 

Our goal is to create natural learners that practice awareness, have passion for the outdoors & learning, and have readiness skills needed for school. We believe that the best way for learning is using the “Natural Cycle of the Eight Directions.” This Natural Cycle is something that we all practice, as humans on planet Earth. We are all already familiar with the sun’s path in our own lives. We see this in our daily schedule. 

Graphic showing the 8 directions of the Natural Cycle of Learning

Natural Cycle as Educators

The Natural Cycle provides our teachers with a sense of direction for designing and facilitating learning experiences throughout the day/week. This is a flow of learning that uses Eight Directions. We encourage teachers and children to feel the natural moods of each direction. We start our day with the sun in the Eastern sky. Please read on for a brief description of each direction.

The Flow of Learning

Northeast - Opening the Learning Experience

This is the opening piece of the day, our arrival routines. All the children come to the Barn, bringing everyone together in one time and place. 

East - Inspiration

Tell a story, model a skill, ask a thought-provoking question. Teachers also provide an overview of the day's activities and objectives. Children will be filled with excitement, eagerness and curiosity at this time. 

Southeast - Activate

This is a time to get the bodies moving by kicking passions into action. Playing a game, or getting the group talking about what they will be doing during the day. This is also a time to provide clear instructions on activities. 

South - Focus

Focused learning happens during this time. Activities that require scientific investigation, counting, building, cooking, creating, etc… will tune children in for mental focus. 

Southwest - Take a Break

After the children work hard, we allow them to rest. This may be a drink of water, casual games, or chatting with friends under a tree. During this time, there is no agenda. 

West - Gather and Share

The whole group will come together again. We celebrate what we did and accomplished. Teachers pose questions such as “What did we learn? What was your favorite part?”

**Note: With our younger children, we may end in the West.

Northwest - Reflect

A lot of reflection may happen during a snack time or walk back to the Barn. Some children may reflect with families on their way home. We encourage parents to follow-up with children after the day ends.

North - Integrate

This may happen with our older children through journaling, or a floor book in the classroom. This is a time to talk about what we learned and then provide insight. This may also be done at home with parents.

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