Frequently Asked Questions
What is Nature School?
Nature School is an education that takes place in the outdoors that focuses on learning from the earth and connecting to the earth. The pedagogy emphasizes wonder-based learning through play and hands-on discovery. Typically Nature and Forest schools spend at least 30% of their day in the outdoors. We spend 100% of our day outside activating our senses, and enjoying all the wonder and change that comes with each special season!
Why Wasatch Nature School & why outdoor education?
Our goal is to help children cultivate a love of the natural world at an early age in order to enhance their mental, physical, and social well-being. We invite children to explore, play, and interact with nature in a way that boosts their creativity and problem-solving skills. When children are allowed to follow their own interests in a hands-on environment, children retain and process learning more readily.
What curriculum do you use?
We have developed an in-house curriculum called "Wildlings Academy." This curriculum includes nature walks and observation, songs, story-telling, poetry and nursery rhymes, art and music appreciation, introduction to people and cultures, nature-inspired celebrations for each solstice and equinox, a moon curriculum, age-appropriate introductions to letters and the sounds they make, real-life early mathematical concepts through contextual and intentional "math-talk", and hands-on experiences inspired by the outdoors and all through play.
Wildlings Academy follows the natural rhythms of nature and helps us to zero in just a bit on those natural occurrences. We notice and wonder about robins when the robins are in abundance during the onset of Spring. We notice and wonder about spiders when they are in abundance building glorious webs all throughout our greenspace. We notice and wonder the coming of the fall season as leaves are falling all over our outdoor classroom. We hunt for mushrooms in the fall and spring when they are naturally growing.
Wildlings Academy believes that childhood is PRECIOUS and short and that growing up is not to be rushed. The curriculum is full of magic and imagination and contains the perfect balance of gentle academic learning and explorative learning and we couldn't be more excited to bring the community this new, and exciting way of learning.
Is Nature School a good fit for every family?
While everyone benefits from time spent out in nature, a nature school program may not be a good fit for every child or family. We are committed first to the safety of all students, so we do require that every student be able to follow directions and ALWAYS stay with the class, with absolutely no exceptions. This can be difficult for some children but is crucial to their safety. If you don't believe your child is developmentally able to stay with their class and teachers, then Nature School is not a good fit for your child.
There are other variables to consider when deciding whether or not a nature school program will work with your little one (ie. a child's previous time and experience in nature and in variable weather conditions, a child's readiness to be away from their family, a child's ability to connect with their teacher and obey our safety rules, a child's ability to communicate their needs, a child's ability to use the on-site portapotty, etc...).
Nature school is also a bit more of a commitment for parents - from driving time to and from school to committing wholeheartedly to dressing your child in appropriate all-weather gear.
There is a lot to consider, and every family and child is different and has different needs at different times in their development. If you have further questions about whether or not Nature School is a good fit for your child please don't hesitate to contact us via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Are the classes always outside?
We hold classes outside all year long! Yes, even in the winter! In fact, the winter months are one of our favorite times of the year to be outside! Certain experiences, observations, and growth can only take place during the winter months and the 9-month program is not complete without the magic of Nature School in the Winter!
We do our best to educate our families on how to properly dress their children to keep them comfortable during their time with us. We love the saying that "There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing", but realize that there is a difference between being uncomfortable and suffering and we certainly understand that learning cannot take place if our students and staff are suffering.
Occasionally we will close nature school for the day based on extreme weather conditions or extreme illness outbreaks (Covid-19). There is no exact science when it comes to school closures. We factor in expected precipitation, wind chill, humidity, cloud coverage, expected hourly temperature, road conditions, and "real feel" temps. We will "typically" operate in temperatures that are 17º or above, but again there is no exact rule. We have 6 built-in closures per class per school year that we can use before tuition is adjusted. We've never gone over 6 closures in a school year.
What time of year does Wasatch
Nature School operate?
We are a YEAR-ROUND Program!
We offer Nature Preschool (ages 3-5), Forest Kindergarten (age 5-6), and Advanced Nature Study classes (age 6-11) from September through May, and Summer Camps for ages 3-11 in June, July, and August!
How much is school tuition?
Tuition varies depending on the class. For our 2023-24 classes the prices are listed below:
4 days a week preschool is $420/month
3 days a week preschool is $315/month
2 days a week preschool is $210/month
Advanced Nature Study (one day a week) is $105/month
For current class pricing for the 2022-23 school year please inquire via email: email@example.com
Can I schedule a school visit?
Yes, Absolutely! You may schedule a 30-minute school visit by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What age group does Wasatch Nature School serve?
-Preschoolers (ages 3-5)
-Kindergarteners (ages 5-6)
-Grades 1- 6 (ages 6-11) for our Advanced Nature Study Class
-Ages 3-11 for Summer Camps
What clothes and gear will my child need?
We explore areas with tree branches, grasses, puddles, bugs, and mud. Children need to wear rainboots daily in the fall and spring and a full insulated snowsuit with layers in the winter including a warm hat, waterproof mittens, wool socks (recommended), and insulated, waterproof snow boots.
We firmly believe in the mantra, "There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing."
Helping your child dress comfortably for the weather and role modeling a positive attitude about all different types of weather are two things you can do to set your child up for success in our programs.
Base Layers Recommendations:
Smart Wool: https://www.smartwool.com
Ella's Wool: https://ellaswool.com/
We do a group order every August for Oaki Rain Suits and Roma boots at a discounted rate!
What about when it rains/is cold/is hot?
When it rains we will have class with umbrellas and puddle jumping and use our class tents to stay dry as needed!
When it is cold, we will have class with snowmen, sledding, snow forts and lots of gross motor movement and play! We will also use our class tents as needed to stay dry and warm up. Each class tent has a heater inside of it to warm up and get a break from the elements.
When it is hot, we will have class--often with water play, and shady hideouts!
In the rare case of severe weather where it would not be safe for us to be outside class will be canceled.
How big are the classes?
We are excited to announce that our class sizes and ratios are going to be much smaller starting in the 2023-24 school year and beyond and we are so excited! Each preschool class will have 2 teachers and just 12 children instead of the 14 and 16 class sizes that we've had in the past. These classes will never go over a 1:6 ratio.
Our Forest Kindergarten and Advanced Nature Study Class will be capped at 14 students with 2 teachers. These classes will never go over a 1:8 ratio.