Our Approach

Did you know that the word “School” comes from the Greek Word “Σχολειο” (pronounced like “Scholeio”) and actually means dismissal from work and responsibilities or freedom to do what you want or leisure time?  Isn’t is strange that today’s version of school is so far from it’s original meaning?  Well, we are reclaiming that word.  We believe in the power of Self-Directed Education.  Learners engage in an environment that has ample free time and choice, free age mixing, no curriculum, and no adult imposed assessments.  The results of playing and exploring in this type of environment is a learner who is learning the things that are most meaningful TO THEM.  Facilitators use nonviolent communication techniques to help learners develop self-awareness and navigate the challenges that arise in a learning community.

Our Story

We began as a concept – We Learn Naturally.  After exploring what natural learning could look like, we were ready to apply the concepts in our recreational program – Learning in the Woods.  We are now ready to offer Hamilton families an alternative to adult-directed learning.  We are starting out with a series of “pop-up” sessions and we intend to offer families a full time learning environment with part time options to support unschooling families.

Meet the Team

Our facilitators are the ones who hold space for kids to engage in this style of learning.  It takes a very special person to support a Self-Directed Learner.  These adults have patience and trust with just the right dose of playfulness.

Tanya Collins Appleton

Lead Facilitator

Tanya is the Director of Learning in the Woods, certified teacher, and a homeschooling mom.  She is also passionate about social justice issues and child allyship which go hand-in-hand with self-directed education. Tanya has seen first hand the power of play in learning and healing in children and adult alike.


Erin Fleming


Erin is a homeschooling mom and the Director of The Barn School, founder of We Learn Naturally and founder of Learning in the Woods. Learning, self-awareness, and healing within community is her jam. She also appreciates Nonviolent Communication, attachment theory, and Gentle/Positive Parenting approaches when working with children.

julie Anne kuipers


Julie is a qualified teacher and nature enthusiast and she brings her interests in RIE and gentle parenting to her role as facilitator.  Julie is loved for her thoughtful, calm approach when interacting with children of all ages.

Next Steps…

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Our Schedule