Project Description

“This program is everything I have been looking for for the last two years.”

Nature Academy

An outdoor school for hands-on science, wilderness skills, gardening, and child-led nature exploration. At Nature Academy, we study the earth, care for the land, and play in the wild! Hosted at the Cedar Haven Eco-Centre.

Program Overview

“I can’t say how pleased I was with this program. Everything from the setting, to the staff, to the programming was great.”

Why Nature Academy?

Nature Academy encourages ecological literacy, identity and responsibility through immersive nature education to foster healthy relationships with the earth that last a lifetime.

“A great balance of crafts, stories, play, lesson, and nature immersion.”

Curriculum

Nurturing curious minds to know, love and care for our natural neighbourhoods.

“We feel this is a good pairing to their public education and want to foster a love for the outdoors.”

Classes

The Clouds class follows a model of inquiry with the goal of teaching students to observe their surroundings, ask questions, work to find answers, and practice sharing their learnings.

Highlighting a different “spotlight species” each week, class learning follows a daily rhythm of (1) Questioning and Predicting, (2) Creating and Investigating, (3) Observing and Experimenting, (4) Communicating and Responding.

In the Dreys class, we learn about differentiation and changes.

We study the behaviour, characteristics, needs, and life cycles of living things in an effort to understand what makes them unique. We zoom in on one animal class each term (mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds) to apply our knowledge to concrete examples. We also learn about changes in seasons, weather, and animals.

Dreys classes are very hands-on, using games, crafts, role play and investigation to discover how living things get what they need.

In the Sleuths class, we learn about interconnection and communities.

By focusing primarily on soil, plant life and insects, we learn about what makes a healthy ecosystem, and how biodiversity allows species to work together. We spend time studying the characteristics and needs of plants, and consider our own role in supporting the ecosystem from the bottom of the pyramid to the top.

Sleuths classes involve lots of games, projects and experiments, looking up close at how things work to better understand how they connect to one another.

In the Kettles class, we learn about structure and systems.

Each term will focus on one bodily system (respiratory, digestive, musculoskeletal, or circulatory). We’ll see how animals differ in their structural characteristics, and see how animal needs and animal anatomy connect. We’ll also spend time learning about conservation and biodiversity, considering the importance of caring for individuals and systems that live in this place.

Kettles classes include lots of class discussions, observations, and wondering together. We learn about larger concepts in our lessons and then students break those concepts down into specific examples to understand further.

Not offered at this time.

“We have always wanted to send our kids to a program like this but finances and location have always been a barrier. We were thrilled when you launched this program.”

FAQ

Program

Nature Academy seeks to encourage a relationship with the natural world for all kids. Students come with a wide range of comfort levels, nature knowledge and outdoor experience.

As a faith-based organization, A Rocha’s view of the natural world is informed by the Christian tradition. That said, the curriculum of our educational programs is guided by current science and relevant provincial standards.

Nature Academy is meant for children of all backgrounds and beliefs — nature is for everyone!

We believe Nature Academy can be integrated into your child’s education, no matter where they are the rest of the week.

Missing a day of school each week may feel like a lot, but Nature Academy provides important experiences in nature that are crucial to a child’s development and often not be available in a traditional school experience.

Not sure how to make it work? Let’s chat.

The Nature Academy is open to learners of all abilities. However, for students that require additional support, it is the responsibility of parents or guardians to provide this support. (Whether it be a family member or privately arranged support staff is up to the caregiver’s discretion.)

All children attending the program must be able to independently toilet themselves. For children that require support toileting, a support person for the child will need to attend as described above. 

If additional support is being arranged, please inform us of the name of the support person and their relation to the student at nature.academy@arocha.ca

Cedar Haven is located in Freelton, ON — about 25 minutes from Hamilton, Guelph and Cambridge  — and is not accessible via public transit. Parents/Guardians are responsible for organizing transportation for their children.

Carpooling: We’re big fans of carpooling! However, students WILL NOT be sent home with an adult that has not been given consent from a parent. Make sure to list all trusted adults at registration.

Health & Safety

At Nature Academy we encourage hands-on education and natural play. With this approach, a few minor scrapes and bruises are not uncommon.

On the rare occasion of an emergency, we are prepared with first-aid trained staff members on-site at all times and protocols in place for any emergency situation. 

If you have specific concerns please contact us at nature.academy@arocha.ca

Nature Academy is an outdoor program that runs rain or shine (or snow). We approach inclement weather as a learning tool, rather than a deterrent. If it is hot, we find shade and water. If it is cold, we layer up and build a fire. If it rains, we go jump in puddles!

However, if severe weather (eg. lightning storm, extreme heat or cold) poses a danger to our students, we will take appropriate measures to ensure everyone’s safety.

*Please note: this is a predominantly outdoor program. We recognize that being outside all day may be challenging for some children, so it is up to you to determine whether your child is ready for this kind of outdoor experience.

We continue to follow public health guidelines. If you have questions, please connect with us at cedar.haven@arocha.ca.

Registration

It’s easy! Find the upcoming term below and follow the link to the event page with payment and registration details.

Full program refunds (minus a 5% admin fee) can be requested up to two weeks before the first class.

Generally speaking, we do not offer refunds for cancellations after this period, but extenuating circumstances may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Everyone deserves to connect with nature in meaningful ways, so we offer a discounted rate for those who cannot afford the full program cost. If cost is a barrier for your family, please fill out the Interest List and let us know. We will get back to you as quickly as possible with the bursary options available.

If you’re looking for additional information, send us an email!

“While he was attending nature school his attitude toward getting outside really became more positive. I think Nature Academy was such a great part of his week.”

Upcoming Terms

Nature Academy – Fall 2023

September 13 - November 15

“Our kids absolutely loved it…they gained skills, grew in confidence, made friends and really enjoyed the Cedar Haven farm and staff.”

Special Thanks to the Ontario Trillium Foundation

Through the Resilient Communities Fund, the Ontario Trillium Foundation is supporting A Rocha Ontario’s environmental education programs: Nature Academy and Wild Things. With their support, we are able to promote even more enriching nature experiences to our students!

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