HOMESCHOOL NATURE IMMERSION FAQs
PROGRAM CONTENT and APPROACH
What is the nature immersion program?
Through The Trees nature immersion homeschool programs for ages 4-17 takes place on our new Freeport, Maine property - over 50 beautiful wooded acres with trails, a pond, field and the beautiful Frost Gully Brook. Kids and teens spend their time outdoors exploring, learning nature skills, making new friends and having wholesome, unplugged fun! Currently this program is offered on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9:00am to 2:45pm (this time varies a bit based on cohort/age group), with Aftercare available until 5:30pm. Register for one, two, three or four days a week for the school year.
How does my child/teen benefit from your nature immersion programs?
The benefits of being in nature have been well documented. Being immersed in nature supports every domain of development - physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual and social.
According to the Children and Nature Network, spending more time in nature:
* Reduces Attention Deficit Disorder symptoms
* Supports Creativity and Problem Solving
* Improves Self-discipline
* Reduces Stress
* Improves Academic Performance
* Enhances Cognitive Abilities
* Improves Social Relations
We have seen the kids in our programs grow to become more resilient, responsible, self-aware and mindful as a result of our time in nature together. Our staff prioritize creating a meaningful community and helping kids develop emotional intelligence, problem solving, communication skills, and self-confidence.
Do you follow a curriculum?
Our Nature Immersion program embraces a self-directed, minimally structured, play and project-based learning environment. Learning happens organically within nature and the changing seasons, creating an optimal environment for creativity, exploration, personal growth and independence. Our Guides facilitate learning by asking questions that engage curiosity, support kids in learning more about what interests them, and provide materials, resources and ideas to deepen that natural learning process. The outdoor environment provides ever-changing elements such as wildlife, weather, plants, trees and the seasons which provide ample opportunities for children and teens to practice resourcefulness and problem-solving and develop a deep curiosity that promotes lifelong learning.
What educational subjects are covered in your programs?
In our Nature Immersion program, kids and teens engage in natural “lessons” that involve science, math, fine arts, language arts, physical education, and social studies and much more. All subjects required by the State of Maine are covered in bits and pieces throughout the program, very often beautifully woven together. Participants in our programs are supported with space and freedom to explore and create their own games, experiments, and projects and as a result their experience includes natural consequences, tangible results, and many connections. Some examples are:
* Science: changing seasons, plants/trees/animals observation and exploration, building bridges and boats, engineering shelters
* Math: measuring, spatial awareness in shelter building, creating a currency and playing “store,” wood working projects
* Fine arts: performances organized by kids/teens, nature-inspired art, wildcrafting, campfire cooking, singing, whittling
* Language: nature journaling, story telling, inquiries, conversations, reading
* Physical education: running, balancing, climbing, building
* Health: Learning how to dress for the weather and how to avoid hyper/hypothermia, learning basic first aid, tuning into the bodies need for food or water, mindfulness, yoga and breath work
* Social studies: discussion and play involving geography, cultures, history of the land, and environments
*Please note that we provide enrichment and supplementation to your homeschooling or other schooling experience, but are not an accredited school or an educational institution. When parents file their letter of intent to homeschool, they take full responsibility for their child(ren)’s education and for producing a portfolio at the end of the year that outlines their child(ren)’s progress in each subject.We provide weekly summaries that discuss what types of learning is happening and parents are welcome to use this information in their child’s portfolio.
What is an example of a typical day for the Nature Immersion programs?
SPROUTS (ages 4-5 half day):
9 to 9:30 - arrival and play time
9:30 to 10 - Walk to camp, snack, morning circle and story time
10 to 11:30 - self-directed play and exploration, optional art/nature activity invitations
11:30 to 12 - gather to eat lunch/snack, pack-up, closing circle and walk to pick-up area
MAPLE Nature Immersion (ages 5-7):
9:00 to 9:30 - arrive, Walk to camp, store belongings, morning circle and snack
9:30 to 11:30 - self-directed play and exploration, activity/craft options, group games
11:30 to 12:30 - Lunch, storytime and sit spots.
12:30 to 2:15 - Afternoon circle, nature journaling, projects, wilderness skills practice , adventure walks
2:15 - 2:30 - Pack up, closing circle and walk to parent pick-up area (except those staying for Wild Woods Club)
BEECH Nature Immersion (ages 8-10):
9:15 to 9:45 - arrive, walk to camp, store belongings, gather fire wood
10:00 to 11:30 - morning circle, project time and skills work with Guilds(small groups)
11:30 to 1:00 - Lunch, sit spots and journal time
1:00 to 2:15 - Guide demos, wilderness skills challenges, self-directed project time, active group games, adventure hikes etc...
2:15 to 2:30 - Closing circle, Pack up and walk to parent pick-up area (except those staying for Wild Woods Club)
ASPEN Nature Immersion (ages 11-13):
9:30 to 10 - arrive, walk to camp, store belongings, gather fire wood
10:00 to 11:30 - morning circle, project time, skills challenges, team building initiatives
11:30 to 1:00 - Lunch, sit spots and journal time
1:00 to 2:15 - self-directed project time, active group games, adventure hikes, play time
2:30 to 2:45 - closing circle, pack up and walk to parent pick-up area (except those staying for Wild Woods Club)
What is Wild Woods Club?
Wild Woods Club includes a different club each day of the week in 8-10 week sessions. Examples of clubs include Nature Crafting Club, Woodworking Club, Drama Club and Campfire Cooking Club. These clubs run from 3:00 to 4:30pm Monday through Thursday and are open to children ages 5-13 in our Nature Immersion Program as well as children in the local community.
Do you have a Handbook for me to review?
Yes, we do! Click here for Handbook.
GEAR and WEATHER
What do you do when it rains or it’s really cold?
We play! We find that as long as children are dressed properly, they will happily play outside in almost any type of weather. It’s important that children have good waterproof and more clothing and footwear and have adequate backup clothing packed. The woods provides shelter from the elements, and we have large tarps that we put up to provide extra protection from pouring rain, wind and shade on extra hot days. Many of the children and teens build their own shelters during our programs and like to spend time in them as well. We also build a campfire and make hot tea on cooler/rainy/snowy days.
We will provide a detailed clothing list for each season to help make sure your child is properly prepared for all weather.
During extreme weather or storms where safety could be compromised, we will use our indoor space and head outdoors when it is safe to do so. If travel on roads is unsafe or temperatures are extremely cold, programs may be cancelled.
Do you use knives or tools in this program?
Yes, participants may use knives, small folding saws and other tools with supervision and instruction from our guides. Our experienced and attentive staff have successfully taught children as young as five to safely and responsibly use knives and tools. Our youngest participants start out doing cooperative projects with an adult or teen mentor and gain independence as they show their ability to follow the rules and maintain safety. We find that when kids are tasked with taking responsibility during a higher risk activity, they rise to the occasion and display more self-control and focus than they are normally capable of.
Does my child/teen need any special gear for this program?
Yes! It is important and required that every participant is properly clothed so they are comfortable and safe in our outdoor environment. We offer a seasonal gear and clothing list so you can make sure your child/teen has what they need.
What are good food options for my child?Many kids in our program enjoy cooking food items over our campfire or preparing lunch foods that require hot water. Some good items to pack are hot dogs or precooked sausages, instant oatmeal, ramen, grilled cheese, tea etc. Please be sure to send kids with whatever dishware or cookware they need, and we will be there to provide supervision and guidance.
Kids are very active throughout the day and eat a lot of food. Please pack extra snacks and lunch. Good snack & lunch options are foods with healthy fats and protein like avocado, nut/seed butter, nuts, trail mix, cheese, jerky, bacon, hard boiled eggs. Try to avoid foods high in sugar, soda, etc.
Can my child with food allergies join your program?
Yes! If your child has food allergies or dietary restrictions, please inform Through The Trees staff on your child's registration.
Do you provide any food or snacks?
We do occasionally provide campfire cooking activities, but program participants are expected to arrive with all the food they will need for the day. We recommend packing more food than your child typically eats just to be certain they have plenty.
PAYMENT and REGISTRATION
- Is the Registration Fee refundable? Does it go toward the tuition?
The registration fee helps to cover administrative time and costs and is not refundable. It does not go toward the cost of tuition.
- Is the deposit refundable? Does it go toward tuition?
We require a deposit to hold your spot in the program. This deposit is non refundable, but does go toward your tuition. Your deposit will be subtracted from your first month's tuition payment.
- How does the monthly payment work? How do I make this payment?
On the first of each month the card you used to reserve your child’s spot by paying the registration fee will be charged automatically.
- Do you offer any discounts or scholarships?
Yes! There is 10% OFF total cost when enrolling more than one child/family member. We also have scholarships available. We are currently able to offer 25% off of our standard tuition rates as scholarship support. This is an honor system in which we invite families to request assistance if paying the full tuition creates a financial hardship, while keeping in mind that as a non-profit we rely on community support to keep our programs running. New families will be emailed a scholarship application form if they have indicated on their enrollment application that they are in need of financial assistance. Current families who are reenrolling will receive the scholarship form with the enrollment form.
If you are awarded a scholarship, there is no additional family discount (10%) applied to your tuition.
- My child is enrolled on Mondays. If we miss a day, can my child make up that day by attending the program on a Wednesday (or vice versa)?
Unfortunately, due to the nature of our program and our program capacity we are not able to accommodate make up days in this way. We are also not able to provide refunds for missed days.
- Do I need to commit for the full 9 months?
The Homeschool Nature Immersion Program is designed to be a full 9 month experience and we ask families to commit for the full 9 months to reap the full benefits of the program. If at any point you feel that the program is not working well for your child, please reach out and we will do our best to problem solve and move through the challenges with your child/family.
- What if I need to unenroll my child from the program before the end of the program?
We understand that there are sometimes extenuating circumstances. If you need to unenroll your child from the program, we ask for 30-days notice. You can request to unenroll by emailing email@example.com. We cannot guarantee a spot will be available if you want to re-enroll.
What is the schedule for the school year?
Click Here for the Annual Calendar
Can I visit Through the Trees with my child during the program?
We will be offering an orientation day for families new to Through the Trees with age group-specific times before the start of the program. This will likely occur in late August or early September, and all registered families will receive an email with that information. We also hold Parent Visit Days during the year. Parents will not normally be able to attend programs with their children.
What if my child is sick?
We ask that parents monitor their child’s health by taking their temperature at home if they feel sick. If they have or have had a fever, cough, sore throat, vomiting or any other significant symptoms of sickness in the last 24 hours please do not bring them. We ask you to err on the side of caution, and we are employing an honor system in regards to monitoring your family’s health.
I have more questions. Who do I contact?
We are happy to answer your questions! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to speak with us, we are happy to schedule time to talk.