PRIMARY SCHOOL 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?
Kortright Centre for Conservation – Vaughan, ON
The Nature School at Kortright 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.
Claireville Conservation Area – Brampton, ON
The Nature School at Claireville takes place primarily outside on Claireville’s 848-acre property, with access to a wide variety of natural ecosystems and accessible trails.
Students will have use of the Claireville Education 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?
The 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 teacher 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.
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.
Is there a lunch program or snacks offered at The Nature School?
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:
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.
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.
When does the preschool operate?
The Nature School Preschool operates Tuesday to Friday from 9 am to 12 pm, September to June, and is closed during the winter break and March break.
The Nature School 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 may attend one day a week.
Children who are 4 to 5 years of age as of September may attend two days per week.
Are the students outside in all weather?
The 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.