New school at Claireville offers outdoor education for Brampton students

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Published July 15, 2021 at 3:15 pm

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A new, outdoor alternative private school at Claireville Conservation Area is now taking applications for September.

Run by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), The Nature School follows in the footsteps of the original, successful program at Kortright Centre for Conservation and is now accepting preschool and primary school students

The Nature School takes place in a natural outdoor setting and provides students an opportunity to direct their learning through an emergent and inquiry-based approach to education.

With student-to-teacher ratios of 12:2 for preschool and 10:1 for primary, children will benefit from significantly more attention from Ontario certified and specialized teachers than is possible in a traditional classroom.

The curriculum will touch on all subjects and disciplines. In any given moment, an experience can cut across math, science, art, language and physical education.

Learning outcomes are based on real-time explorations and experiences, rather than pre-determined concepts in books or on screens.

“Our mission is to provide a supportive, outdoor, student-led learning environment that empowers, motivates, and develops the whole child,” said Darryl Gray, director of education and training at TRCA.

“This approach, along with the physical and mental health benefits of being outside, will be especially helpful to students on the heels of 18 months of online learning that students had to adapt to during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Nature School is located at the Claireville Conservation Area, a natural and forested area that straddles Peel Region and York Region. Students will be able to explore wetlands, valleys, forests, grasslands, and the west branch of the Humber River and its tributaries.

While the school prioritizes learning in an outdoor setting, in cases of inclement weather, the site features a building for private indoor learning (previously the Etobicoke Field Studies Centre).

The primary school program is for students from Kindergarten to Grade 3. Students are placed in a multi-age grade, an approach to education in which students are treated as individuals and their skills are built from the starting point of where they are at, rather than what grade they are in.

The Primary Program at Claireville is offered Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuition from Sept. to June for one day per week is $2,800, two days per week is $5,600 and three days per week is $8,400.

The Nature School Preschool uses a child-led approach to learning that is exploratory, inquiry-based, fun and unhurried.

Children interact with the natural environment through the use of loose parts, creative play, shelter building, whittling wood, cooking on an open fire, knots, making woodland crafts and sharing stories.

The Nature Preschool is offered to children who are 2.5 to 5 years of age and are potty trained. The program runs Mondays from Sept. to June from 9 a.m. to noon.

The Preschool Program at Claireville is offered on Mondays from 9 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Tuition is $1,700.

For information or to register, contact visitor services at 416-667-6295, ext. 3, or email vservices @trca.ca.

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