As you hopefully are aware, our website and Facebook page are both up and running for Natural Connections Academy. If you haven’t had the time to check out everything, let me give you a quick synopsis. We are a private non-profit school that does most of our education outside of a traditional classroom on topics based on science. There you have it… but what do I mean “outside”?
Do you mean take them outside and continue from the school’s curriculum? Does it mean that they take breaks outside?
Yes and no. Our goal is to have students outside, in the great outdoors, at least 75% of the time. We will be using curriculum that is based on the Next Generation Science Standards and integrating the other subjects. The biggest difference with other schools that are more nature based is that we will be outside, in the environment, every day. Whether it is sunny, rainy, snowy, dry, hot, cold (well, you get the idea) we will be out walking the trails, watching the birds at the birding station, gardening, practicing math using the materials available while in the woods, snowshoeing, learning about agriculture, etc.
I can hear you thinking, "in Idaho?" If the weather becomes dangerous for students to be outside, we will then adjust the curriculum to be provided inside in our heated pavilion. It is also possible that the weather just may not cooperate and force us to call a “weather day”. But not to worry, we have eight “weather days” built into the school year so that we make sure we are covering the curriculum sufficiently for student improvement.
Just like adults, students adjust their behavior based on the expectation. Being outside will become normal to them and they will learn responsibility by dressing correctly. How will they know how to dress correctly? Well, they will need to rely on parent and teacher direction initially but will eventually just know to put on several layers when it is cold out or to make sure they wear cooler clothes and sunblock!
I am confident that students will be so much more engaged in being outside and learning that the elements will be of little concern!