THE NATURE SCHOOL: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

NEW: COVID-19 FAQs

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 indoors? Outdoors?

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.

After a period of illness, how long before I can send my child back to school?

We will follow the most current guidelines of York Region Public Health.

If someone else in my household has symptoms, do I need to keep my child home from school?

We will follow the most current guidelines of York Region Public Health.

In the event of a positive test within the school population, will everyone be required to be tested? Will there be a shutdown period?

We will inform York Region Public Health and follow their recommendations.

GENERAL FAQs

What is Nature School?

Nature School provides students an opportunity to direct their learning through an emergent and inquiry-based approach to education. This child-centered approach is central to our teaching philosophy and takes places in a natural outdoor setting.

Nature School touches on all subjects and disciplines: in any given moment an experience can cut across math, science, art, language and physical education.

Learning outcomes are based on real-time explorations and experiences, rather than pre-determined concepts in books or on screens.

Where is the school located?

The Nature School takes place primarily outside on Kortright’s 555-acre property, with access to a wide variety of natural ecosystems, accessible trails and multiple facilities.

Students have use of a 30,000 square-foot Visitor Centre, which includes a private indoor learning space in case of inclement weather.

Do you follow the Ontario Curriculum?

The Nature School provides a unique learning environment that has a student-led philosophy where we educate the whole child. The students learn through exploration and interest.

Teachers observe and record student interests and develop lessons and learning objectives around what inspires them, linking the Ontario Ministry of Education Curriculum to provide a well-rounded education.

What are your learning approaches?

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

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

Learning approaches 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.

Are the students outside in all weather?

The Nature School philosophy has children learning and engaging with the outdoor environment regardless of weather.

In rare instances of severe weather including thunderstorms, heavy rain, heavy snow, strong winds and severe temperatures, an indoor private learning space is available.

What are the student to teacher ratios?

Nature School students benefit from a small class ratio of 1:10 students. This allows teachers and students to have greater experiences, connections and learning opportunities.

What are your teacher qualifications?

Every teachers at The Nature School has been thoroughly screened and is an Ontario Certified Teacher.

Our teachers may also hold additional qualifications including: Forest School Practitioner, Early Childhood Educator and/or Outdoor Experiential Educator.

Our staff are also First Aid and CPR certified, and hold a current clean Vulnerable Sector Criminal Reference Check.

When does The Nature School take place?

The Nature School operates from September to June. School starts at 9 am and ends at 3 pm. Students may be dropped off between 8:45 am and 9 am, and must be picked up promptly at 3 pm.

Before and after care is available for an additional fee.

What are the tuition fees?

The Nature School annual tuition fees are $12,000, which includes all materials and field trips.

Before and after care is available for an additional $3,850 per year, and runs from 8 am to 9 am and 3 pm to 5 pm.

Please note a minimum number of students is required for this service to be offered.

Do you offer any financial assistance?

Unfortunately at this time The Nature School is unable to offer financial assistance to families and students. We continue to work with external partners and funding agencies to offer financial assistance to those in need. Please check our homepage for updates and eligibility requirements.

Do you have extracurricular activities?

The Nature School promotes healthy living through outdoor experiences, including hiking, survival skills and visual arts. Students enrolled in our before and after care program may take part in after-school extracurricular sports and art activities.

Is there a lunch program or snacks offered at The Nature School?

The Nature School is looking into providers for a lunch program. Currently, students need to bring a packed peanut-free lunch and snacks to school. At times students will make snacks such as bannock as part of a lesson.

The Nature School is a nut-aware centre but because we are open to the public we cannot guarantee that there will not be traces of nuts at our facility.

Is there a lunch program or snacks offered at The Nature School?

The Nature School is looking into providers for a lunch program. Currently, students need to bring a packed peanut-free lunch and snacks to school. At times students will make snacks such as bannock as part of a lesson.

The Nature School is a nut-aware centre but because we are open to the public we cannot guarantee that there will not be traces of nuts at our facility.

Do you offer Special Education Assistance?

At this time, students needing one-on-one support must provide their own educational assistant.

Why are students in a multi-age grade?

The Nature School is offered to students from Kindergarten to Grade 3. Students are placed in multi-age grades, which create a supportive learning environment where students have the opportunity to take on a leadership role and learn from each other.

In this environment, students are empowered to use problem solving skills, mentor each other and create a strong school community.

What are the benefits of The Nature School?

Students who attend The Nature School benefit from a unique learning experience. In a classroom without walls, students are able to develop theories, questions and ideas that drive the learning process.

There are many added benefits to sending your child to The Nature School including:

  • Improved self-regulation and academic achievement
  • Improved interpersonal skills (social, communication, motivation and confidence)
  • Improved physical and mental health
  • Improved concentration and self-discipline
  • Improved creativity and resilience

You can learn more about the benefits of outdoor learning from the following:

Can parents/guardians volunteer?

At The Nature School we encourage a community learning environment. Parents/guardians are welcome to volunteer with us.

Parents/guardians wishing to volunteer first must attend a volunteer training session and have a clean criminal reference check with a vulnerable sector screening.

What does a typical day at The Nature School look like?

Every day at The Nature School can bring a new experience and looks different from the day before.

Themes and topics that have interested students from previous days have been recorded and serve to direct the development of the teacher’s future lesson plans. Teachers are able to delve deeper into students learning by taking what students are interested in and combining it with the Ontario Curriculum.

One day at The Nature School could focus on math, while the next day will focus on science and language. Students have unstructured time every day to explore, read and work on special interest projects.

What types of field trips will my child go on?

At The Nature School students will go on field trips that are linked to their interests. Field trips to McMichael Canadian Art Gallery, the Toronto Zoo, Black Creek Pioneer Village or Tommy Thompson Park may be planned throughout the school year.

Who do I contact for more information?

For more information please call Jasmine Green at 905-832-2289 x 2390 or email jasmine.green@trca.ca.

PRESCHOOL FAQs

What does my child do in The Nature Preschool?

The Nature School Preschool is nature-based outdoor learning program. This child-led approach to learning 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.

What are your preschool teacher qualifications?

The Nature School Preschool teachers 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 and extensive experience working in early year’s programs.

What are the student-teacher ratios?

The child to teacher ratio at the preschool is 1:6.

What is the preschool tuition?

The Nature School Preschool annual tuition fee is $1,500, which include a small snack each day.

When does the preschool operate?

The Nature School preschool operates Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 am to 12 pm, September to June, and is closed during the winter break and March break.

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

Children who are 2.5 to 3 years of age as of September 2017 may attend one day a week.

Children who are 4 to 6 years of age as of September, 2017 may attend two days per week.

Are the students outside in all weather?

Nature school philosophy has children outside regardless of weather. In rare instances of severe weather, including thunderstorms, heavy rain, heavy snow, strong winds and severe temperatures, an indoor learning space is available.

How old do children have to be to attend?

Children attending The Nature School preschool must be at least 2.5 years old and must be potty trained.

Can parents/guardians volunteer?

At The Nature School we encourage a community learning environment. Parents/guardians are welcome to volunteer with us.

Parents/guardians wishing to volunteer must first attend a volunteer training session and have a clean current criminal reference check with a vulnerable sector screening.

Can I stay to observe my child?

At The Nature School preschool, parents can arrange a set date with their child’s teacher to observe their child in the program.

  • Feedback

  • PLEASE NOTE: This is an anonymous feedback form. If you have an inquiry and would like a response, please include contact information with your comments. Alternatively, you can get in touch with us by email at info@kortright.org or call Visitor Services at 416.667.6295.

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Kortright Centre for Conservation has now reopened to the public. LEARN MORE
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