The Nature School

The Nature School at Kortright provides an alternative form of education designed to explore experiential learning opportunities and promote curiosity to nurture the whole child.

Students will receive the benefits of an inquiry, play, and place-based education while learning in an outdoor setting.

QUESTIONS ABOUT COVID-19?
Find Out What You Need to Know

GET INFORMATION AND UPDATES

QUESTIONS?

Please contact Jasmine Green:
jasmine.green@trca.ca | (905) 832-2289 ext. 2390

To register by phone, call Customer Service at (416) 667-6295 ext. 3.

PRIMARY SCHOOL

PRESCHOOL

WEEKEND PROGRAM

PA DAY CAMPS

EARLY YEARS FOREST SCHOOL*

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COVID-19: What You Need to Know

WILL SOCIAL DISTANCING BE PRACTICED INDOORS?

Yes, where possible.

In the Kortright Visitor Centre we will have signed one-directional travel in areas such as entrances, exits, and stairwells. Only the entrance door will be unlocked to further prevent entry in non-designated entry points.

The Visitor Centre will remain closed to the public with the exception of the public washrooms.

 

WILL MASKS BE REQUIRED?

Whether indoors or outdoors, if social distancing cannot be practiced, staff will be required to wear a mask and children in grade 3 and under will be encouraged to wear masks.

Staff will be wearing face coverings while indoors.

 

IF THE CLASS MOVES INDOORS, WILL CHANGES BE MADE TO KEEP STAFF AND STUDENTS SAFE?

With the exception of the public washrooms, the Visitor Centre will only be opened to Early Learning programs during business hours for the foreseeable future.

Increased cleaning schedules, focusing on high-touch surfaces and a weekly deep cleaning are part of our COVID-19 mitigation operational plan.

 

HOW FREQUENTLY WILL HIGH-TOUCH SURFACES BE WASHED?

A minimum of two times daily, with a deep clean occurring once a week.  This frequency will increase on days when there is high usage.

 

HOW FREQUENTLY WILL CHILDREN BE MADE TO WASH THEIR HANDS?

There will be an increased emphasis on hand washing.

There will be a total of 19 hand sanitizing stations located in and around the Visitor Centre ready for use. Teachers will ensure students are shown the proper hand washing procedures.

 

WILL THERE BE ANY SCREENING PROTOCOLS IN PLACE?

At the beginning of each day, parents/guardians will be asked to complete a self-screening COVID-19 questionnaire on behalf of their child.

 

WHAT WILL THE ILLNESS POLICY BE?

Students must stay home if they:

  • Have any symptoms of respiratory illness, including fever, new or worsening cough, new or worsening running nose or nasal congestion, difficulty breathing (shortness of breath), or a combination of these symptoms
  • Have been told to self-isolate by public health or a medical practitioner
  • Have been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Have recently returned from travel that requires a period of self-isolation
  • Have been in close contact with a person who is a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case within the last 14 days
  • Have a fever
  • Have irritability, continuous crying, or require more attention than can be provided
  • Have diarrhea
  • Have been vomiting
  • Have eye discharge
  • Have yellowish skin or eyes, or jaundice

Any student experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness, even if mild, must stay home. The use of a mask is not an acceptable measure to attend school for those who are symptomatic.

In cases where a student develops symptoms of COVID-19 while at school, we will contact the student’s parent or guardian to pick up the child immediately, and contact York Region Public Health for further direction.

 

  • teacher and student at Kortright Centre nature schoolOur family’s experience with the Nature and Forest school program at Kortright has been nothing short of inspiring. Both of our children have taken part in various programs through the past 3 years, including Forest School summer camp, Forest school P.A days and Nature School Preschool.

    Our sons come home from such days content, inspired and tired in a way that I seldom see during other organized activities and traditional school days. We can tell that they’ve used their bodies and brains in a way that has encouraged physicality, courage, leadership, teamwork and problem solving skills. Most notably, they have had FUN! And in play, the best sorts of learning take place naturally.

    All of the teachers and leaders we’ve encountered have been kind, patient, enthusiastic and knowledgeable. In searching for an alternative form of education for our youngest son specifically, we are confident that we have found such a place with The Nature School at Kortright. We are excited to see him develop even further while taking part in a full time program.

    Leslie and Craig Ferguson – parents to Tate (6) and Charlie (8)

MISSION STATEMENT

To provide a supportive outdoor student-led learning environment that empowers, motivates and develops the whole child.

OUR VALUES

Take Risks

Provide opportunities to build a student’s innate motivation, confidence and skills to take supported risks within a nurturing environment where it is safe to fail.

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Educate the Whole Person

Develop the physical, social, cognitive, linguistic, emotional, social and spiritual aspects in our students and promoting their holistic development by linking school experiences to students’ life experiences.

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Student Led

Support student development through the use of learning approaches that motivate students to develop theories, questions and ideas that build critical skills in the learning process.

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Environmental Stewardship

Utilize the diverse habitats that exist on Kortright’s 555-acre learning environment to foster a connection with and develop an appreciation for the natural environment.

child playing in mud kitchen at Kortright nature school

  • Since enrolling our daughter in the Kortright nature preschool program, we have seen her confidence, sense of adventure, and imaginative play flourish. She is living and breathing a preschooler’s dream, in an outdoor environment that is supportive and educational without being pressure filled or overstimulating. The program provides both the structure and the freedom to explore, be inquisitive, be active, learn about themselves, their peers, and the environment, and best of all, get dirty while doing it all!

    Sophie Dearing

LEARNING APPROACHES AND CURRICULUM

Teachers use a student-led, inquiry-based approach when developing lessons.

Teachers facilitate student learning through providing a variety of tools, resources and experiences that guide students to find answers to their own questions. This helps build confidence, self-reliance and independent thinking skills.

The methods used by our teachers include:

Inquiry- based: A dynamic and emergent process that builds on students’ natural curiosity about the world in which they live.

Play-based: Recognizes the integral role of play in a child’s development. This approach engages the whole child by encouraging a depth of experience and treating a child’s emotional, physical and social selves as interwoven.

Experiential learning: Learning that is based on students being directly involved in a learning experience rather than being taught pre-determined lesson plans. Students learn through and reflect on their learning experiences.

Place-based: The act of connecting children to a particular place through direct experiential contact.

At The Nature School, students learn language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, physical education, visual arts, music and drama through these learning approaches.

young girl at Kortright Nature School

OUR CAMPUS

The Nature School is located on Kortright Centre’s expansive 555-acre property. The Nature School campus has creeks, wetlands, ponds, marshes, fields, forests, an apiary (bee farm), access to the Humber River, an organic farm, solar panels, wind turbines, sustainable demonstration houses and over 16 km of natural trails.

wetland area at Kortright Centre

OUR TEACHERS

Teachers at The Nature School hold one or more professional designations, including certified Forest School Practitioners, Registered Early Childhood Educators and/or Ontario Certified Teachers with degrees in Outdoor Experiential Education, as well as extensive experience working with children in their early years.

MEET OUR STAFF

INFORMATION FOR PARENTS

Our Parent Information Manual provides a comprehensive introduction to all aspects of The Nature School.

DOWNLOAD NOW

Check out our FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS to learn more.

 

TUITION FEES

In addition to the full week, The Nature School can be booked on a per day basis. When applying, parents may choose anywhere from one to four individual days. You will be asked to indicate your preference of specific days of the week when completing the booking from.


PROGRAM

TUITION FEES

The Nature School (1 Day per Week)

$2,600

The Nature School (2 Days per Week)

$5,200

The Nature School (3 Days per Week)

$7,800

The Nature School Pre-School (1 Day per Week)

$1,500

The Nature School Pre-School (2 Days per Week)

$3,000

The Nature School Weekend Program

$300

APPLY TO THE NATURE SCHOOL

Primary School

Our primary school program is for students from Kindergarten to Grade 3. Students are placed in a multi-age grade: an approach to education in which students are treated as individuals and their skills are built from the starting point of where they are at, rather than what grade they are in.

VIEW TUITION FEES

primary students take part in Nature School program at Kortright Centre

 

NOW BOOKING FOR THE 2020-2021 SCHOOL YEAR
Please contact Visitor Services at (416) 667 6295 ext. 3 or email vservices @trca.ca for details.

 

QUESTIONS?
Please contact Jasmine Green at jasmine.green@trca.ca or (905) 832-2289 ext. 2390.

Minimum registration required. Deposits will be returned if program does not meet minimum registration requirements.

Preschool

The Nature School Preschool uses a child-led approach to learning that is exploratory, inquiry-based, fun and unhurried.

Children interact with the natural environment through the use of loose parts, creative play, shelter building, whittling wood, cooking on an open fire, knots, making woodland crafts and sharing stories.

young boy at Kortright Nature School

The Nature Preschool is offered to children who are 2.5 to 5 years of age and are potty trained.

Children who are 2.5 to 3 years of age as of September 2020 may attend one day a week.
Cost: $1,500

Children aged 4 to 5 years of age as of September 2020 may attend two days per week.
Cost: $3,000

(Monthly payment options are available.)

The program runs from September to June.
Hours: 9:00 am to 12:00 pm

 

NOW BOOKING FOR THE 2020-2021 SCHOOL YEAR
Please contact Visitor Services at (416) 667 6295 ext. 3 or email vservices @trca.ca for details.

 

QUESTIONS?
Please contact Jasmine Green at jasmine.green@trca.ca or (905) 832-2289 ext. 2390.

Minimum registration required. Deposits will be returned if program does not meet minimum registration requirements.

The Nature School Weekend Program

Each day begins with an adventure in a woodland setting. Children interact with the natural environment through the use of loose parts, creative play, shelter building, whittling wood, cooking on an open fire, knots, making woodland crafts and sharing stories.

This child-led approach to learning is exploratory, inquiry based, fun and unhurried.

Preschool children participate in Kortright Nature School program

The Weekend Forest School program is offered for children who are 2.5 to 5 years of age and potty trained.

Cost: $325 per child

Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Need help with your booking?
Call Customer Service at (416) 667-6295 ext. 3.

 

UPCOMING SESSIONS

2021 Winter Session:

    • Saturdays – January 9, 2021 to Saturday March 6, 2021 (Except February 13)
    • Sundays – January 10, 2021 to Sunday March 7, 2021 (Except February 14)
GO TO BOOKING PAGE

 

PA Day Camps

Come to the Kortright Centre for Conservation on your PA Day and explore the world of Forest School.

Each day begins with an adventure in a woodland setting. Children interact with the natural environment through the use of loose parts, creative play, shelter building, whittling wood, cooking over an open fire, knots, making woodland crafts and sharing stories.

This child-led approach to learning is exploratory, inquiry based, fun and unhurried.

children attend PA Day Camp at Kortright Centre

York Region District School Board PA Day Camps are offered for children ages 4 to 10.
Cost: $55 per day

Upcoming PA Days:

  • Dates for 2020-2021
    Friday, November 13, 2020
    Friday, January 15, 2021
    Monday, February 1, 2021
    Monday, May 31, 2021

Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
(Unfortunately, there is no before and after care available for PA days.)

Use the booking link below to register for individual days.

GO TO BOOKING PAGE

Early Years Forest School Program*

This inquiry-based, two-hour program is specifically designed for Early Years Centers. Children interact with the natural environment through stationed activities that can include loose parts, creative play, shelter building, whittling wood, fire, knots, making woodland crafts and sharing stories.

PLEASE NOTE: The Early Years Forest School Program is offered to Child Care Centres only. Individual bookings by parents are not available.

children take part in Early Years Forest School program at Kortright Centre

This child-led approach to learning is exploratory, inquiry based, fun and unhurried. While this program is facilitated by a Kortright Environmental Educator, the teachers attending with the children will be responsible for directly engaging the students with the different stations.

The Early Years Forest School Program is offered for children ages 6 and under.
Cost: $400
Maximum Capacity: 30 students

Availability: All year
Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

REQUEST A BOOKING

QUESTIONS?
Please contact Jasmine Green at jasmine.green@trca.ca or (905) 832-2289 ext. 2390.

Need help with your booking?
Call Customer Service at (416) 667-6295 ext. 3.

NEW!

Early Years Forest Play at Lake St. George

Our sister facility in Richmond Hill, Lake St. George Field Centre, has introduced its own pre-school program designed for Early Years Centres.

Fall bookings for Early Years Forest Play at Lake St. George are now available.

LEARN MORE

MEET OUR STAFF

Gillian Moore

Gillian Moore: Educator, The Nature Preschool

Gillian Moore has been a part of the Education Team at Kortright Centre for the past ten years, where she has worked as an Environmental Educator and as a Certified Forest School Practitioner with The Nature School.

When not in the forest of the Kortright Centre, she can be found on the ski hills teaching skiing, or on the water as a sailing coach. Her involvement with kids and teaching spans a 35-year period.

She is passionate about outdoor teaching and connecting with kids. She loves that her job offers her the opportunity to blend all of this in such a unique and engaging setting.

Gillian is a mom to three daughters, but considers all the children at Nature School to be part of her extended family!

Victoria Kreese

Victoria Creese: Educator, The Nature Preschool

Victoria Creese has extensive experience working with children. She worked as a camp counsellor to pay her way through university. She was a volunteer at the Anishaanabe Friendship Centre in downtown Toronto, a Girl Guide leader, an elementary school librarian, a farm tour guide and storyteller.

She was hired by the Kortright Centre in 2013 to deliver educational programs. She has worked at Kortright’s Nature School since 2019, and qualified as a Forest School Practitioner that same year.

Victoria and her husband have four grown children and two grandchildren. As a family they enjoy camping, canoeing, and having adventures in the beautiful outdoors.

Ken McGillivray

Ken MacGillivray: Teacher, The Nature School Primary

Ken grew up in Etobicoke but spent his childhood weekends and summers at his family’s cottage on Lake Huron on the Bruce Peninsula. He went to York University to become a teacher and went to Humber College for a Certificate of Outdoor Education.

He briefly worked at a museum near his cottage, then at a YMCA camp in a National Park. Finally, he worked for two years as a primary school teacher at a reserve in Northwestern Ontario.

Ken started his time at the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) as an environmental educator at the Kortright Centre, and has been working for the TRCA ever since.

Ken enjoys camping, hiking, canoeing. and birdwatching, and he still spends a lot of time at his family’s cottage. He also has a passion for conservation and volunteers with the Canadian Chestnut Council.

Molly Shannon

Molly Shannon: Teacher, The Nature School Primary

Molly is an Ontario Certified Teacher with more than four years of experience delivering inquiry and play-based environmental educational programs to students with the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA).

Molly spent her academic career in environmental management programs, and further developed her teaching practices at the University of Toronto, focusing her Masters research on Forest School.

She is passionate about creating an inclusive and engaging environment for students that helps to foster confidence, creativity and — most importantly — a love for learning.

SPONSORS AND PARTNERS

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