Outdoor Ed/Homeschool Enrichment gr. 4+

Outdoor Education / Homeschool Enrichment gr. 4+

For: ages 11-14
Teacher: Britt Shellenberger
Meets: Friday, 9am – 3pm

The Outdoor Ed/Homeschool Enrichment class is a Waldorf–inspired learning environment for grade/middle school-aged children that offers holistic instruction in a multi-age setting to enhance the education children receive at home.

We provide nurturing and inspiring opportunities for children to engage with other homeschoolers. The morning portion of each class will be held outdoors exploring all the stunning Skagit Valley has to offer.  The curriculum will include the following elements:

•Observation Skills •Drawing •Exercise •Discovery •Group Building Games •Group Challenges •Botany and Ethnobotany

Nature Art Location: The majority of our outdoor time will be spent at Little Mountain Park in Mount Vernon. It has an extensive trail system and the location is ideal for the proximity to Greenwood Tree. Alternate locations will be specified in advance.

This class will facilitate children in creating a new relationship to themselves, each other, community, and nature. Students will gather once a month for four hours at different local parks in the area. Children will receive the experience of being outside with minimal restrictions, as well as having choices in curriculum based on their own interests. Teachers will offer tutorials throughout the day, letting children spend their day studying plants, animals, plant spirit medicine, primitive skills, or the ecosystem as their curiosity leads them. In addition, group activities of wilderness skill games and obstacle courses will help bring the participants into a more cohesive group that learns to rely on each other and the ecosystem around them. Individual time spent drawing, journaling, and sitting in nature will help students cultivate a sense of self amidst the life around them. Greenwood Tree seeks to establish diversity and age diversification to allow students to develop their abilities in leadership, working together, and self-confidence. A smaller student to teacher ratio will help keep the group feeling vital and alive, meeting even the most reserved or outgoing children’s needs. As children naturally learn to cultivate curiosity and expression, they begin to interact with everything around them in a healthier way. Together, we trust each other’s uniqueness as being a necessary part of life. 

In the afternoon hours, we will gather in the classroom and explore a wide range of subjects and artistic work while creating intimate friendships, and building connections to the greater community. We strive to engage the whole child– head, heart, and hands– with a focus on experiential education that supports a child’s innate desire to learn in every moment and in every situation while maintaining a sense of wonder for the world around them.

Weather is the most unpredictable and predictable element for Outdoor Education. What we can count on from September to June is rain and moderate temperatures, with a little of everything else thrown in. So being prepared every class for these conditions is mandatory (see section below on clothing). We will plan on being outdoors every class. If the weather is absolutely miserable, we will shorten the amount of time we are outdoors. So please consider that some days your child will come home wet and/ or cold. (All within reason!) Please let me know if you have any thoughts or concerns about this.

As we all know in the Pacific Northwest, layering our clothing is best. Make sure that your child has a bag or backpack that can accommodate these layers with a snack. With your permission, I would also like to let the children experience preparing themselves for the outdoors and if they forget something they will feel the results of that action. With that being said, I will have extra clothing and blankets available, should someone forget something. I will not let anyone get too cold or wet. This is a wonderful age to support the burgeoning sense of responsibility.

At this time there is no official transportation from Greenwood Tree to the Outdoor Classroom, but we are currently exploring this possibility. Students will be carpooling with other families and each participating family will be expected to share in this responsibility. A group discussion will be had in order to create a system that works for all involved families.

Lots of wonderful things happen outdoors and occasionally some not so wonderful things happen. When we are outside of our comfort zone and the support of our common amenities, challenges can seem larger than life! It is my goal to sit with your child through any of those emotions and we will come out the other side, having survived! (the skinned knee, the cold hands, the… fill in the blank) Please take a few minutes before the school year starts, to discuss the outdoor education piece of their day. Discuss with them the fact that they may need to go to the bathroom outdoors behind a tree, or they may feel or experience things they have not yet felt. Let them know that they are safe. You know your child best; just give them the heads-up you think they need to settle into the joy of being outdoors and getting to know a place through all the changes in the weather and seasons and attitude.

*Greenwood Tree follows the Mount Vernon School District closures for harsh weather conditions.