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New school promoting holistic learning opening next week in Auburn

Skills like math and reading will still be taught, but kids will focus on their passions and build a curriculum based on what they are ready to learn.

AUBURN, Wash. — As most kids in Western Washington head back to school this week, some parents are trying a less-traditional route for their child's education.

Ashlar Farm and Forest School in Auburn will be opening soon, where instructors will follow a holistic approach to education.

Kids ages three to 10 will all learn together, spending time both in the classroom and outdoors on farm property where kids will tend to hundreds of free-range chickens, maintain the property gardens or conduct science experiments down by the pond.

Skills like math, reading and writing will still be taught, but the idea is to allow kids to focus on their passions and build a curriculum based on what they are ready to learn.

"There's a big emphasis on social and emotional learning here and so a lot of times when we push academics really early, on it can have disadvantages. At the school, we try to keep that balanced," said school director Chondra Norman.

"Now the latest research is kind of coming back around and saying, 'let's get back to the play-based learning, let's get back to child-lead learning,'" she continued.

Norman said holistic schools are very neuro-diverse, which means kids with all different types of learning styles and personalities tend to do very well in these types of settings.

She said kids who are ahead of their peers and those who have fallen slightly behind tend to thrive in a holistic education environment.

Classes at Ashlar Farm and Forest School will begin on Sept. 9.