One of the things that differentiates Sorenson’s Ranch School from other programs is the opportunity and availability of having ample therapeutic experiential learning activities. Because of our location and ranch environment we have a lot of things to do. We are not bound to the traditional clinical experience of four walls.
Experiential learning is a process of learning by doing rather than by talking and listening. At Sorenson’s Ranch School experiential learning begins on day one. Each new student at Sorenson’s begins their stay with a week of feeding the animals and doing chores on the ranch. This provides youth with the opportunity to acclimate to their new setting and to learn some real life lessons by doing rather than by talking. Teens gain practical experience while being actively involved. This is called action learning. Ranch work teaches many lessons that we can all benefit from, such as “many hands make light work,” and that there is great satisfaction that comes from doing a job well.
New students have the opportunity to interact with animals from their first day with us, and animals can teach many valuable lessons. Animals are great with kids because they give unconditional love. They don’t care how old you are, how well you dress, or the color of your skin. Yet animals, when treated poorly react poorly to the caregiver. Troubled teens can then see observable consequences to their good or bad behaviors. Students learn that we should treat others the way we want to be treated.
Our students have the opportunity to work with animals, play sports such as football, volleyball, wrestling, basketball, camping, hiking, mountain biking, and the list goes on. These are all experiences that afford us the freedom to let students learn by making decisions, working through problems, and finding answers on their own. When learning by doing, we tend to hang on to the lessons we have learned, as they are things we have learned for ourselves, not lessons taught to us by someone else. At Sorenson’s Ranch we believe that students can and will succeed in an environment that utilizes therapy and behavior management in a clinical setting as well as in real life situations. This hands-on approach enhances the clinical milieu and it’s effectiveness.