Where do you meet? Classes meet in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Current drop off and pick up locations include just inside the park at Grand Army Plaza by the Endale Arch, at the entrance to the park at PPW and 3rd Street, and at the entrance to the park at PPW and 9th Street. If you are interested in having class in a different area of the park, please contact us.
Do you still meet in poor weather? Yes, we meet in all weather - rain, sun, snow, and cold. Inspired by the true nature of forest schools, our primary goal is to spend as much time outside as possible. Depending on the day, portions of class may be held inside the library or museum as a respite on inclement weather days. Class will always meet - cancellations will only be made in the case of dangerous weather - hurricanes, blizzards, etc. Classes cancelled by Brooklyn Nature Days will be rescheduled.
What ages are you classes for? Our weekday morning classes are mixed age for ages 2-5. Our outdoor location, play based philosophy, and child-driven curriculum allow for all the children to be engaged and inspired to explore, create and learn. Our small class size and small child to teacher ratio allows us to meet the needs of the individual children. We offer summer camp for ages 2-6, school holiday break camps, and after school classes for older children. If your child is slightly outside of our age range, but you feel as if the program would be a good fit, please contact us as we are flexible given the individual situation.
What if my child has never been in a drop off class or has trouble separating? While our goal is for your child to participate in the class independently with the support of the teachers, parents and caregivers are always welcome to stay if their child needs them. Based on the child's needs, we can work out an individual plan and supportive strategies for successful separation.
What is your curriculum and daily schedule like? Our curriculum is inspired by our natural surroundings and the interests of the children. Our primary goals are for the children to feel safe, respected, and supported in their play, inquiries, and explorations. We offer tools and recycled and found material for the children to use in their free play. Our day begins with a hike to our chosen daily location, then is followed by a hello circle and songs, ample time for unstructured free play, snack, story, art, hiking, nature journaling, and goodbye. While the daily schedule is set in place for children to find comfort and predictability in our day together, we are inspired to follow the wonder and spontaneity of nature and the group's discoveries as our day unfolds together. Children are invited to participate in our activities, but also have the right to continue exploring their own interests if they prefer. Please see our Philosophy page for more.
How do you keep the group together and safe? The well being and safety of the children as we explore and play is our primary focus. Our small class size and small child to teacher ratio allows for us to make all of the children are safe, heard, and supported during our time together. Each day when we arrive to our location, we establish physical boundaries for play, code words for staying close to each other while exploring, as strategies for respecting our natural surroundings and each other. There is always a teacher present trained in CPR.
Do children need to be potty trained and are bathrooms available? Children are welcome to attend in diapers (just please send along extras in case.) We have a small portable potty available for the children to use, and are happy to walk the children to the park's public restrooms time and location allows.
What do the children need to bring each day? We like to travel as a group as lightly as possible. We have wagons to carry our supplies, but ask that all you send with your child is a full water bottle (we carry plenty of extra for refills,) a change of clothes, and lunch if requested.
Do you provide snack? Yes, we provide a healthy, energy filled, vegetarian snack each day consisting of an organic fruit or vegetable, protein, and complex carbohydrate. Please make us aware if your child had any food allergies. Children must bring their own lunch on days where we eat lunch together. We are a peanut and tree nut free program.
What if my child has allergies or medical conditions? Please make us aware of any and all allergies and medical conditions your child has, so we can work out a plan to best meet their needs during class.
What does my child need to wear each day? It is the responsibility of the family to make sure their child is dressed appropriately for the weather. We provide detailed guidelines upon registration, but in general snow pants, snow boots, long underwear of wool or silk, and hats, gloves and scarves keep the kids warm in the winter. Rain coats, pants, and boots keep the kids dry in the rain. And sun hats, sunscreen, and bug spray allow us to explore in the summer. Playing and learning outside all year long is possible and quite enjoyable when children are dressed in the proper gear.
How do I enroll? Please send an email to Sarah at email@example.com with the ages and number of children enrolling, desired days and times, and other questions you may have. We will respond as soon as possible to confirm your enrollment and provide our release form and payment information.
What types of payment do you accept? We accept payment via check and credit/debit card. Payment is due in full to hold your child's place in class. Refunds are not available. If you would like to come for a trial class before committing, you are absolutely welcome, space permitting. Classes missed on the part of the family due to illness or travel may be made up depending on availability. Classes cancelled by Brooklyn Nature Days will be offered as a makeup or class credit at our discretion.
Do you offer discounts? Yes, we offer discounts for siblings, for those who enroll for the full year for our preschool alternative program, and for those who enroll in more than 6 weeks of summer camp. One discount available per family.
How do you communicate with families regarding classes, activities, and news on nature based learning? We send an email the day before each class with information on the next day's weather and activities. Families can keep up to date with our activities by following our website blog and our Brooklyn Nature Days Instagram and Facebook pages. By signing our release form, you give us permission to post pictures of your child on social media. We never use names. If you prefer that we do not use your child's picture, please notify us in writing via email.