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 and Wednesdays from 9:30am to 2:30pm- register for one or both days.
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 Monday/Wednesday 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. In the outdoor environment with ever changing elements such as animals, weather, hidden rocks or roots, the seasons, children and teens are able to practice resourcefulness and problem-solving and develop a deep curiosity that promotes lifelong learning.
What educational subjects are covered in your programs?
In the Monday/Wednesday 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. Some or all of these subjects 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”
* Fine arts: performances organized by kids/teens, nature-inspired art, wildcrafting, campfire cooking, singing, whittling
* Language: nature journaling, story telling, inquiries, conversations
* 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
What is an example of a typical day for the Nature Immersion programs?
MAPLE Nature Immersion (ages 5-7):
9:30 to 10:00 - Walk to camp, store belongings, morning circle and snack
10:00 to 12:00 - Self-directed play and exploration, optional activity/craft
12:00 to 1:00 - Lunch, Storytime and Rest
1:00 to 2:15 - Afternoon circle, activities planned by older friends from BEECH and OAK, practice of wilderness skills and group games
2:15 - Pack up, closing circle and walk to parent pick-up area (except those staying for aftercare)
BEECH Nature Immersion (ages 7-12):
9:30 to 10:00 - Walk to camp, store belongings, morning circle
10:00 to 12:00 - Self-directed projects, group projects, play
12:00 to 1:00 - Lunch, sit spots and journal time
1:00 to 2:15 - Optional activities planned by older friends in OAK, Guide demos and wilderness skills challenges, active group games
2:15 - Closing circle, Pack up and walk to parent pick-up area (except those staying for aftercare)
OAK Nature Immersion (ages 12-17):
9:30 to 10:00 - Morning circle and check-in
10:00 to 12:00 - Cooperative group initiatives and team building challenges, self-directed projects, planning for afternoon leadership opportunities
12:00 to 1:00 - Lunch, sit spots and journal time
1:00 to 2:15 - Leadership opportunities, group projects, wilderness skills challenges and active games
2:15 -Closing Circle, Pack up and walk to parent pick-up area (except those staying for aftercare)
What is Aftercare?
Aftercare is available for an additional cost from 2:30 to 4:30pm on Mondays and Wednesdays following the Nature Immersion program. Children and teens will have more time exploring outside, practicing wilderness skills, working on self-created projects, or just having fun with friends! There is a minimum of 5 participants needed to run aftercare for each day.
Do you have a Handbook for me to review?
Yes, we do!
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?
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?
At this time, we are not providing snacks due to Covid-19.
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.
Do I end up paying more if I choose the monthly payment instead of paying the tuition in full?
We do not increase the cost of tuition if you choose to pay monthly. Whether paying in full or monthly, the total cost is the same. Some families prefer to pay up front, but many choose the monthly option.
How does the monthly payment work? How do I make this payment?
Beginning September 1, 2020 the card you used to reserve your child’s spot by paying the registration fee will be charged automatically, unless you email us before at email@example.com to pay the tuition in full or to cancel registration. If you made the selection to receive emails in your Mindbody account, you will be emailed each month when this auto payment processes, through May 2021. It is nine payments in total.
What does my tuition cover?
Your tuition covers all of the scheduled sessions (there are 30 Mondays and 30 Wednesdays scheduled between September and May). Please see the annual calendar below and it may be helpful to have a copy on your fridge or on your family calendar for easy reference.
Do you offer any discounts or scholarships?
Yes! There is 10% OFF total cost when enrolling more than one child/family member.
Can I visit Through the Trees with my child during the program?
We will be offering an orientation day with age group-specific times (if you have children in multiple age groups, you can choose the time slot that works best for you) before the start of the program to welcome families to Through the Trees. This will likely occur in early September, and all registered families will receive an email with that information. Due to our Covid policy, parents will not be able to attend programs with their children this fall.
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.
What if I need to unenroll my child from the program before the end of the school year?
If you need to unenroll your child during the school year, we ask for 30 days notice by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we cannot guarantee a spot will be available if you want to re-enroll.
What is your protocol for COVID-19?
We have thoroughly reviewed the State recommendations for COVID-19 and are putting the following protocols in place. Fortunately, our program is completely outdoors with little to no surface contact, and based on current research, transmission is rare in outdoor spaces. Please be aware that our COVID policies may change at any time based on State requirements and what we feel is safest for our participants and staff.
Hand washing and/or hand sanitizing will take place upon drop off, before meals, after bathroom use and before pickup.
We will modify our drop off-and pick-up systems to allow ample space for physical distancing between families and will not allow parents beyond our drop off area.
Youth participants are not required to wear a face covering, however those who wish to wear one will be supported. Participants must pack a face covering with their gear.
No sharing of food or beverages is allowed.
We have a minimal-surface outdoor bathroom facility with hand sanitizer.
Circle times or when larger groups are together will be modified to allow ample space between participants. Within each small group, children are not required to stay 6ft apart from each other. We will modify activities to minimize touch and close contact.
We will recommend tools and materials for you to purchase that your child can bring to minimize sharing of these items.
We ask that parents monitor their child’s health by taking their temperature at home,if they feel sick or have had a fever or any symptoms of sickness in the last 24 hours or if they have been exposed or potentially exposed to Covid-19 please do not bring your child/teen to the program . We ask you to err on the side of caution, and we are employing an honor system in regards to monitoring your familiy’s health.
Staff will wear a mask and gloves to administer first-aid to your child, if first-aid is needed, or if other close contact is necessary.
I have more questions. Who do I contact?
We are happy to answer your questions! Please email email@example.com or text us at 207-712-4625. If you would like to speak with us, we are happy to schedule time to talk.