Unstructured time and executive function

On June 14, 2011, we published a blogpost titled “The Marshmallow Test” in which we talked about executive function — that ability to control one’s thoughts, impulses and behaviour with the intent of achieving some specific goal.

In my work in the public schools, it appears that executive functioning is in short supply.  I constantly hear complaints about students who are finding it difficult to control their attention and behaviour, who are disorganized, who cannot keep track of themselves or their belongings, who do not monitor their behaviour and who have very little awareness of the effect they have on others.

I also hear from parents who have structured their children’s time so tightly that the kids are under constant stress of not meeting deadlines, their parents goals for them, or there own goals for themselves.  When I ask the kids what they want from life, they simply don’t know — other than to say less stress, and to be able to meet their parents’ expectations.

Here’s an article that examines some of these ideas more fully …



Thursday May 14th, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Meet Reach founders and families. Find out about Reach, or deepen your connection. We’ll supply fresh snacks and treats. All are welcome.
Join us at Ralph Thornton Centre
765 Queen St. East (just east of Broadview)
Toronto, ON
M4M 1H3

On-line Meet-Up

STAY TUNED — We will be hosting an on-line discussion of Alternative Education, with Dr. Carlo Ricci, Professor of Education at Nipissing University moderating the discussion.
Dr Ricci is author of “The Willed Curriculum, Unschooling and Self-Direction: What do Love, Trust, Respect, Care, and Compassion have to do with Learning?” and moderates UnschoolingChannel on YouTube.
Date: April 16, 7-9 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time

RSVP reachsudbury@gmail.com if you would like to join.
Stay tuned for the link. We will send it on Wednesday, April 15th

Meetup to discuss alternatives

We’re still looking for members of “our tribe”!

If you’re looking to explore alternatives to the current school model, all are welcome to attend the Toronto Alternative Education Meetup on Tues. Feb. 17. More details here: http://www.meetup.com/Toronto-Alternative-Education-Meetup/

Toronto Alternative Education Meetup


NB: This is not an info session on Reach; it is a discussion of alternatives to the current model of schooling



We have become aware in the past few days that people have been trying to contact us via e-mail over the summer. We thought it was a quiet summer. Noooooo, our website was down, so we did not receive those e-mails.

We apologize for lack of communication, and want to assure you that we are now back in communication.

Our Facebook page is up, this blog is up, and the website “contact us” link works now.

Thank you for your perseverance!

On “rigour” – from PlayMaker School

Here’s another school that “gets it” — they talk about the difference between drudgery and rigour.

I’m not sure that Reach would be a place with “no rules” — but I don’t think this place is either.  It’s just that the rules are very different from what you’d find in a typical public school.