What is Life-derived Learning

IMG_2776Life-derived Learning (LDL) is a complete education model for very young children, based on the principles of play-based learning.

LDL is a concept owned by Dorothy Snot preschool & kindergarten in Athens and has been tested and developing daily, for the last five years (2012 – 2016).

Obviously, we did not re-invent the wheel through LDL. But, we created a concrete and integrated set of ideas and procedures to assist children grow happy, strong and confident – while just playing,  in school!

The main idea behind is that children must have the ownership of their school life.

More than that, the magic behind LDL is its’ successful and hands-on implementation. It has proved to be a perfectly working model with sky-high satisfaction results, within all school’s community: teachers, parents and most of all, children. Anyone intrigued to learn more on how LDL is implemented, is most welcomed to visit our Athens school, talk with our teachers and parents and observe the daily flow of work.

So, the main principles of Life-derived Learning concept in Early Education, as developed by Dorothy Snot, are:


1. Children have the right to be accountable for their own life, from as early as possible. This is non-negotiable.

2. Children have the right to play freely. If they want, when they want, by utilizing what they want. Free play is the key behind their physical, social, emotional and mental development.

3. Free play is unconditional & unstructured, but a school is by default a structured environment. Our daily effort is to combine those two, contradictory in principle, elements. The best way to achieve that is to grant children the right to own as much as possible of their school life.

4. School’s obligation is to set a solid and very clear operating framework. This framework is well communicated and is non-negotiable. Within this framework, children are allowed to act as free as possible.

5. Children are allowed and encouraged to play in real life conditions and discover world through their play. Normal risk-taking and experimenting are well encouraged.

6. Teachers are not in class to teach. Teachers are in class to assist children in their explorations and provide them with ideas and stimuli.

7. Teachers always leave their adult ego outside class. They actively listen to children needs and understand them, not suppress them and imply their own ideas.

8. Children are allowed and encouraged to bring in class any real world deriving issue. Teachers in general avoid answering questions and take firm positions, on any subject. Instead, they tend to ask children back to express their very own beliefs. The goal always is to sparkle a discussion and lead class to form its own conclusion.

9. Children are given the right to set their own class rules. Then, children are set accountable towards the natural consequences of their actions, and only that. The natural consequence i.e. of a kid beating others is that no one will be willing to play with him/her.

10. The will of the majority is always respected. On the other hand, no one may force minority to participate in a project or an activity decided by the majority of the class. There are always play alternatives for those who disagree.

11. Every child is allowed to come one day in school in bad or angry mood. But, no one is allowed to destroy class life because of this mood. A bad behaving child is never punished, but is not allowed to participate in team activities, unless his temper is back to normal. Up to that moment, he/she may be self-involved in other individual activities, outside the group. No punishment or similar methods apply, simply because punishment does not work!

12. Children are well allowed to enter into disputes and uncomfortable situations during their class life. This is done on purpose, to allow them recognize the problems and then set their own rules to solve them. Teachers in general do not intervene in a dispute, but discuss in class afterwards and through open-ended questions enforce children to express themselves, describe the problem and form a solution.

13. Children are always encouraged to express their feelings and discuss them openly in class. They learn to solve their issues through discussion and confrontation. We are never tired of repeating a conversation or explaining a situation in class, over and over.

14. Parent’s involvement in school life is well encouraged, both on scheduled and on ad-hoc basis. School is utilizing parents’ skills and ideas to enrich daily the experiences of children, while moms & dads improve their parenting skills by closely following school’s life.

15. The effective implementation of the above is ensured by continuous teachers’ training and feedback exchange between management, parents, teachers and the environment in general. School has to be a community with common values and objectives. No matter how nicely things are written on paper, effective implementation can’t take place unless people are capable, properly placed and determined to achieve.

16. All the above aim to raise strong, self-confident and happy children able to judge, to make their own decisions and to discover knowledge throughout their daily life. Forming a strong personality is the task of the preschool and of the kindergarten. If not done by the age of 6-7, it may never be done…

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