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  • Where are the classes?
    We offer Summer Fall Winter and Spring Camps and Classes in SW Aurora and SE Denver within the Cherry Creek Watershed. Our single skill is Regenerative Ecology and our seasonal classes move and migrate as all animals do depending on the season, day and current conditions. Each class and operation area are chosen in collaboration with families and local parks and recreation or open space agencies to assure regnerative (giving back more than we take) stewardship of the land. Below is map of some of the places that we operate in: Cook Park, Wabash Trailhead, Bible Park, Hentzel Park, Expo Park, Jewell Wetlands Park, Highlands Hollows Park, Great Plains Park, Plains Conservation Center, and Mission Viejo Park. Contact us for details specific to each season. Full Time School Year classes will rotate seasonally with thematic topics between locations based on land use and regenerative stewardship. We will coordinate drop off and pick up seasonally in collaboration with land agencies and families. Locations will change (potentially daily) but will always be within an area suitable for family commuting logistics. If you are interested in full time school year (2, 3 & 5 Days a week) - learn more and sign up on our programs page. Enrollment for full school-year programs will be open Janurary-April of the previous year for pre-enrollment family meetings.
  • What classes do you offer?
    Check out our Programs page here! We are currently offering: 2, 3 and 5 Day a week Outdoor Preschool for Fall, Winter and Spring Seasons
  • What does my child need to attend a class?
    This class is entirely outdoors! Children will need a snack, a full change of clothes & extra layers, and plastic or reusable bags for messy clothes. Full day students will also need to pack a lunch! All children will need weather-appropriate layers of clothes for the day - Don't worry, once you enroll we will send you a full guide on dressing your child for adventure days, including some recommended items & shops. For a great guide to winter nature-play layers, check out this guide:
  • What happens during a Regenerative Ecology Forest School Class?
    Please see our schedule on the page below! Also, feel free to read more about our teaching approach here! Each day we meet at our morning circle/gathering spot after drop off, and then head off for our 1st Adventure Learning Spot for the day. We have a break, and snack at around 10, and then transition to our 2nd Learning Spot for exploration. We have lunch at 12, and transition to (pick up for half day students) quiet reflection & mindfulness practices for full day students. We have Afternoon exploration from 2-3, and pick up from 3-3:30! We operate under compliance with Colorado state law and CDEC’s single-skill exemption. Our curriculum is designed to focus on specific weekly Regenerative Ecology single-skills related to a monthly theme that follows the seasons and rhythms of the Earth. Seasonal offerings build upon one another, allowing the school community to grow and strengthen.
  • What about severe/inclement weather?
    We are a fully outdoor program, and we are out in rain, snow, mud, and sunshine! Our guides are trained to monitor the weather conditions throughout the day, and to keep close watch on children to monitor for their preparedness with appropriate gear safety, comfort, and engagement. If the weather is dangerous for the age group of the class to be outside for the duration of the class (as measured by the facility offering the program) [think: tornado watch, lightning storms, or severe winter storms] then we will bring all children into an emergency shelter, and ensure all children are safe. If extreme weather prevents activities, families will be contacted for pick up from the safest location. We will cancel / reschedule classes if we have advanced warning of severe weather before the daily gathering begins. And once you are signed up for classes, we send copies of our family handbooks, which include our detailed safety & weather protocols!
  • What is your cancellation policy?
    We want your kids to attend well, and to learn where they are safe! If your child is displaying signs of illness, or has a suspected exposure to CoVid-19, we ask that you let us know & we can work with you to reschedule or refund your class! We are a fully outdoor program, and we are out in rain, snow, mud, and sunshine! We will offer to reschedule any class cancelled due to unsafe weather. If you cannot make the class you initially signed up for, for any reason, please send us an email to see if you can reschedule for another date (space is not guaranteed). For full summer attendance (8 weeks) and year round families: Termination: A. In the event you decide to terminate the contract you must do so in writing 2 weeks prior to the upcoming payment date, the payment on that date must still be completed and an additional month tuition will be charged after leaving the program to support our administrative time in filling their vacancy. B. Termination by Nature School Cooperative: Nature School Cooperative reserves the right to cancel the services for any reason it deems appropriate. In such cases, there will also be 2 weeks notice prior to the upcoming payment date and services will be provided and payment received up to that date, unless the cancelation is due to weather or a termination outside of Nature School Cooperative control such as a land use agreement in which case NSC will collaborate with families to find a mutually agreed upon solution. Disputes: A. Any and all unresolved disputes regarding this Agreement shall be settled by mediation or binding arbitration before a single mediator or arbitrator, using the Commercial Rules of the American Arbitration Association of Colorado. Both are forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), and are ways to resolve disputes outside the judiciary court system. The laws of Colorado shall govern this Agreement. If it becomes necessary to enforce this Agreement through legal action, then we shall be entitled to recover reasonable attorney fees and costs incurred in such enforcement of this Agreement.
  • Do you offer scholarships?
    Technically yes, but we don't use or like the word "scholarships" because of the power dynamic and imbalance it sets up. Our goal is to increase accessibility to outdoor nature based programing and we follow the J.E.D.I principles described here in the Colorado Collective for Nature Based Early Education. We are currently creating a pay what you can culture. Please contact us at here to discuss flexible payment options.
  • How will I know if my kid is being prepared for Kindergarten or "School Readiness"?
    This is a complicated question with a sophisticated answer. We are happy to talk more in person or by phone. In short, we focus on life long health, wellness and long term success based on current research. "School readiness" as currently measured at the end of pre-K and entering Kindergarten has been shown to be short sighted and the effects diminissh by the end of Kindergarten (See 2022 research below). By the time your student is in 3rd grade, 6th grade, 9th grade and beyond, the imprinting they have in these early years in our program will have set them up for "readiness" in more important "below the tip of the iceberg" skills: Broad vocabulary, interest in language, curiosity, persistence, attentiveness, incidental learning, drive to learn, predictability, memory and self control. You'll notice in our class schedule there are significant blocks of time for "play" and specifically Nature Play following dynamic and complex facilitation by trained teachers in a Nature Play Cycle. This is well articulated in this video "The Ludic Process and Nature Play Cycle Webinar". The challenges and complexities of facilitating "Play" while adhering to expectations of Kindergarten and school readiness is best explained in the 2022 longitudinal research (a study over 10 years) from Dr. Farran about preschool education. Her 10 year study and 50 years of background researching early childhood suggests we need to re-think our entire approach to typical preschools. Reflecting on the study of indoor preschools focused on outcomes of students "prepared" for kindergarten with the ability to hold a pencil and recite letters, letter sounds and numbers, she comments: "This content focus and the teaching strategies, I argue, result in a detachment of the tip of the iceberg from the deeper skills under the surface. Thus, children can score well on school readiness skills at the end of pre-k – especially on those related to literacy – but not maintain any advantage by the end of kindergarten when all children attain these skills with or without pre-k experience.". I AM PROPOSING AN “ICEBERG MODEL OF EARLY DEVELOPMENTAL COMPETENCIES.” The tip of the iceberg skills no longer symbolizes those under the surface. They are no longer the visible and measurable aspects of more important competencies. Only when the deeper skills are enhanced should we expect continued progress based on early experiences. A very different set of experiences likely facilitates the development of those deeper skills. We have known for many years that the developmental period between four and six years is a critical one. Neuroscience confirmed the importance of this period for the development of the pre-frontal cortex. The pre-frontal cortex is involved in many of the skills described in the model as being below the surface. "Many nursery schools, high end childcare centers and special programs like Montessori, Waldorf and outdoor or “nature” preschools, among others, provide young children positive, enhancing experiences. The desire of economically secure families to protect their children from the recent increased academic focus in early education extends to Kindergarten where higher income families are twice as likely to "redshirt" their children (holding them back a year) than lower income families. If higher income families are concerned about the academic pressures on their young children and choosing to pay for programs that are positively affirming and very experiential in nature, why would we assume that young children from poorer families should be subjected to a completely different set of experiences?" Dr. Dale C. Farran has been researching early childhood for over 50 years. Research and other experts referenced in this Characteristics of Primary Learners document reference the word "play" 22 times and only 8 times are from the section of "Young children learn through play". The other 14 out of 22 times play is mentioned are from other important sections. We have depth of training and background from experts in EL Education (formerly Expeditionary Learning) and we have routines, rituals, activities and teacher facilitation that centers the concepts in the Characteristics of Primary Learners. We understand that Play is the way children learn. Our programs are designed to best supports their neural development for other important aspects of life long success as explained in Dr. Farran's research above. Recapping the Characteristics of Primary Learners Young children find security in rhythm, ritual, and repetition. Young children learn through play. Young children want to belong to a community that is safe, beautiful, and good. Young children explore the world with wonder. Young children “understand” the world first through their bodies. Young children seek independence and mastery. Young children thrive in the natural world. Young children use stories to construct meaning. Young children seek patterns in the world around them. Young children construct their identities and build cultural bridges. Young children express themselves in complex ways. References Rhythm and Ritual Poole, C., Miller, S.A., and Church E.B. (2014). Ages & stages: How children develop a sense of time. Retrieved from Burton, R. (2011). The experience of time in the very young. Retrieved from Play Brown, S. (2009). Play: How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul. Avery: New York. Ackerman, D. (1999). Deep play. New York: Vintage Books. NAEYC (1996) Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs serving children from birth through age 8. Position statement. Washington, D.C: National Association for the Education of Young Children. Belonging Bower, N. M. (2013) Adventure, play, peace: Insights and activities for social-emotional learning and community building with young children. Bethany, OK: Wood N Barnes Publishing. Howard, S. (2006). “What is Waldorf Early Childhood Education?” Gateways Fall/Winter. Waldorf Early Childhood Education Association. Wonder Gonya, J. Early childhood building blocks: Turning curiosity into scientific inquiry, Resources for early childhood, an online resource for Ohio educators. Retrieved from Chouinard MM. (2007). Children’s questions: a mechanism for cognitive development. Monogr. Soc. Res. Child Dev, 72(1):vii-ix, 1-112; discussion 113-26. Bodies First Flanagan, J. (2009). Sensory processing disorder. Pediatric News. Retrieved from Montessori, M. (1948). The discovery of the child. Madras: Kalkshetra Publications Press. Independence and Mastery Copple, C., and S. Bredekamp, eds. (2009). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs serving birth through 8. Washington: NAEYC. Erikson, Erik H. (1959). Identity and the life cycle. New York: International Universities Press. Natural World Sobel, D. (1996). Beyond ecophobia : Reclaiming the heart in nature education. Great Barrington, MA: Orion Society. Louv, R. (2005). Last child in the woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books Of Chapel Hill. Pattern Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. NAEYC and NCTM (2010). Early childhood mathematics: Promoting good beginnings. Joint Position Statement, Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children. Storytelling Miller, S. and Pennycuff, L. (2008). The power of story: Using storytelling to improve literacy learning. Journal of Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives in Education. 1(1), 36 – 43. Hamilton, M. and Weiss. M. (2005). Children tell stories: Teaching and using storytelling in the classroom. Katonah, NY: Richard C. Owen Publishers. Egan, K. (1989). Teaching as storytelling. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Snow, C.E., Burns, M.S., and Griffin, P. (1998). Preventing reading difficulties in young children. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Identity and Culture Brooker, L. and M. Woodhead, M. eds. (2008). Developing positive identities: Diversity and young children. Early Childhood in Focus (3). Milton Keynes, U.K.: The Open University. Linda Espinosa (2010). Getting it RIGHT for young children from diverse backgrounds: Applying research to improve practice. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children. Parke, R. D., & Gauvain, M. (2009). Gender roles and gender differences. Child Psychology: A Contemporary Viewpoint. 7th ed. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2009. 475-503. NAEYC (1995). Position statement on school readiness. Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children. Expression Heard, G. and McDonough (2009). A place for wonder: Reading and writing nonfiction in the primary grades. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers. Edwards, C. P. and Willis, L. M. (2000). Integrating visual and verbal literacies in the early childhood classroom. Early Childhood Education Journal. 27(4), 259-265. Edwards, C.P., Gandini, L., and Forman, G. (1998). The hundred languages of children: The Reggio Emilia approach advanced reflections. Westport, CT: Ablex Publishing Corporation.
Two children in hats and warm jackets are building a forest shelter with long branches

What does a typical day at forest school look like?

Typical schedule for outdoor nature based (ONB) preschool and forest school for older grades

What should my child wear?

See our gear guide here

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