Homeschool: Fall Class Guide
Details on where to go, what to bring, and what to wear...
Hello Brooklyn Nature Days families! We are looking forward to having your children join us in the park this fall!
We are an all outdoor program and in the true nature of a forest school, we plan to experience and learn from all types of weather. All year round, we hold class in the sun, snow, and rain, and make sure each child is safe, engaged, and supported during our play and explorations. Because of the nature of the season, (beginning in balmy September & ending in blustery December) our fall session can sometimes feel like our most complex session of the year in regards to apparel and gear. To prepare families for what to expect, we have created this guide to help you plan ahead for every kind of weather fall has to offer.
Please read the information and guidelines below carefully to help your child be as prepared as possible to enjoy our program. Take careful note of the essential gear and supplies with which your child needs to arrive. Teachers will do a cursory gear check upon each child's arrival. Please understand that due to safety concerns it is BND policy that we cannot sign in a child that is not properly prepared for the weather and outdoor environment. We will ask you to return home for any missing gear. We take child safety seriously and enforce this policy strictly.
Communication & Updates
All families will receive a link to a password-protected page on our website to access our weekly newsletter which will contain: the upcoming weather forecast, our plans and activities, and the names and phone numbers for teachers at each drop-off and pickup location. The newsletter will be updated each week by 8am on Monday morning so you have the most up-to-date information possible. Teacher phone numbers are to be used ONLY in an emergency or if Brightwheel is not working. Additionally, at the end of each week, families will receive a weekly wrap up via Brightwheel.
Please check out our blog to see what's been happening during our outside adventures. Our blog will be updated weekly with photos & discoveries from our time in nature. Please be sure to follow us on instagram @brooklynnaturedays for more updates!
If inclement weather changes our drop off/pick up location, families will receive an update via brightwheel. Please check the forecast regularly to make sure children come dressed and prepared for our days together.
Families should feel free to reach out to teachers directly via brightwheel only with pertinent information or questions at any time.
Pick up and Drop off
Homeschool classes run from September 11, 2019 - December 18th, 2019. Classes meet Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday for 14 weeks.
Time: 10am to 2pm
Where: Prospect Park, Brooklyn.
Drop off location: Just inside the entrance to the park at Prospect Park West & 3rd Street
Please be prompt for both drop off and pick up. If you are more than 10 minutes late you will have to travel into the park to drop off/pick up your child.
Teachers will be identifiable by the Brooklyn Nature Days logo on their apparel. You can find photos and bios for your child's teachers posted on our teachers page.
If you are running late or your child will be absent from class please reach out to the teachers designated to your drop-off spot via our brightwheel app. If you are running behind they will advise where’s best to meet. The Brightwheel app is the most efficient way to communicate with teachers during class, as we can read the message and respond quickly.
Each drop off spot will have one lock if you wish to leave strollers, bikes, or scooters. Please note that Brooklyn Nature Days offers these locks as a convenience & is not responsible for lost or stolen property.
Parents and caregivers must sign their child in and out each day electronically with our teachers via our brightwheel app. Children will be given a BND tag to pin on clothing each day to class to identify them as part of our group. It is the parent/caregiver's responsibility to make sure each child arrives wearing this tag each morning. We recommend pinning the tag to your child’s backpack at pick up at the end of each day so that it does not get lost & is readily accessible for their next class.
Each morning, once you have said goodbye to your child please leave promptly as it helps the children settle in and begin their day with us. Our teachers are experienced in supporting children through separation and are available to help facilitate the morning transition. At the beginning of the semester, as new children are going through separation, parents/caregivers are welcome to stay if their child needs them. Please never “sneak away” in lieu of saying goodbye to your child. They need to know you are leaving and that they will see you later - even if it causes tears. We are here to help them through it.
For pickup: Children will only be released to adults who are listed on the brightwheel app. If you need to make a last-minute change about who is picking up your child, and are unable to update the profile info on brightwheel, please send a Brightwheel message to let us know in writing of the change. All changes must be in writing. Verbal changes will not be honored. We take this very seriously in order to keep the children safe.
If your child will not be attending class any particular day they are scheduled, please message us via brightwheel as early as possible so that our teachers know not to expect them at drop off.
If your child has had a fever or any other symptoms linked to illness in the past 24 hours (vomiting, diarrhea, rash, etc.) or if you feel your child is contagious and/or will not be able to safely explore and play with us in the park, for their well-being and the well-being of the other children, please keep them home.
If our teachers notice any behaviors or symptoms that we suspect may be due to illness we will reach out to you immediately to arrange early pick up.
***Brooklyn Nature Days has updated our make-up policy beginning in the Fall 2018 semester. Please note details below***
Make-up Policy: Brooklyn Nature Days does not offer make up classes when a child is absent and class is in session. Make up classes are offered only when classes are not held due to Brooklyn Nature Days cancellation only.
What To Wear
Please send children in comfortable clothing that can get wet and dirty and allows them to move and play. It is imperative children arrive dressed appropriately for class in order for them to fully enjoy our outdoor learning environment. We ask families to be mindful of the temperatures, as our goal is to spend multiple hours outside. When in doubt, it is best to send along any extra layers you think your child may need. It is better to have extra layers as opposed to not. It is much easier to help a child who is too warm take off layers than scramble to find extra clothes to keep them warm.
Rain gear - We recommend that rain gear is worn over your child’s regular gear on rainy, muddy, and damp days. Regardless of the weather, rain gear should always be included in your child's bag. Rain boots must be worn on rainy, muddy, and damp days.
Sun Hats - Sun hats are necessary for hot, sunny summer days. They provide some SPF and can keep a child from overheating.
Footwear - Please take note that it's important for the kids to have proper footwear with rubber soles that protect toes and has good grip for running and climbing. Examples include: Keen Newport H2 hiking boots, Keen closed toed sandal or athletic sneakers. Rain boots are absolutely necessary on rainy days as is a spare change of shoes. Please also include a dry pair of boots on wet days, as we often have to change socks and boots.
NO open-toed sandals, flip flops, Natives or Crocs at any time as they have little to no tread for hiking or climbing.
Please note that children are encouraged to immerse themselves in our natural surroundings and activities. While we choose washable art materials, please be advised that children’s clothing will become dirty and possibly stained during class.
For the warmer months children must arrive wearing sunscreen, sun hats, and bug spray each day. For re-application later in the day, please send both sunscreen and bug spray, each individually labeled with your child's name, in a small, waterproof bag/ziplock pouch, also clearly labeled with your child's name.
For colder months, we recommend multiple layers for warmth, which can be adjusted if a child feels too warm. Here is what we recommend:
Top and bottom layers made of wool, silk, or ‘Heat tech’ material
Warm pants and tops
Sweater or fleece
Snow suit (even on days when there isn’t snow, to keep bodies warm)
Insulated, waterproof footwear with rubber soles for gripping when running and climbing
Winter hat and/or balaclava and coat hood
Scarf or neck gaiter
Waterproof mittens/gloves (and several spare pairs) We recommend two pairs of gloves to be worn—a thin stretchy knit pair that allows the kids to use their hands for work as well as a waterproof, heavier pair on top. Please clip these to their sleeves so that they can take them on and off as needed.
Please ensure your children come prepared to enjoy their days with us. We are diligent in making sure the children are safe and as comfortable as possible at all times. We build shelters to shield us from the rain and wind, have their water bottles accessible all day to stay hydrated, and provide water for refills.
Gear Company Recommendations
We have had success with the following products & children's outdoor gear companies:
*Polarn O. Pyret offers a 20% discount to families that are enrolled in outdoor classes. To register, please fill out the form found here: http://www.polarnopyretusa.com/outdoor_schools_form
Please include Brooklyn Nature Days's address and location on the form:
Address: Brooklyn Nature Days, LLC, 22 Caton Pl, #5K, Brooklyn, NY 11218
Class Location: Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY
What to Bring
Our goal is to travel through the park as lightly as possible. We bring our wagons to hold our supplies as well as the children’s belongings. Each child may bring one bag which holds all they need for the day, clearly labeled with their name.
We recommend families purchase a dry bag for their child’s belongings. A dry bag ensures items stay clean and dry outside in all weather. A 30L bag should fit all that is needed for the day. Examples can be found here: Earthpak Waterproof Dry Bags on Amazon
A FULL water bottle (We will be carrying plenty of extra water, but they will need something of their own to drink from. We have water bottles accessible all day to stay hydrated).
Diapers/wipes and an individual travel mat for changing your child (only if applicable)
Extra set of clothes (tops, bottoms, underwear, and socks) in the event of a potty accident or clothing getting wet.
Extra pair of waterproof footwear
Sunscreen and bug spray clearly labeled with your child’s name (for warmer months).
Additional warm layers: hats, gloves, wool socks, shirts, pants, leggings, etc. (for colder months).
Appropriate full rain gear (including rain pants) should always be included in your child's bag.
A packed lunch (must be tree nut and peanut free)
Please do not let your child bring anything else from home, as we want to travel as lightly as possible. Our vision is to explore and interact with nature during these hours and toys or additional belongings from home are disruptive.
Please make sure all items - bags, water bottles, lunch boxes, hats, and outerwear - are clearly labeled with your child's name. While we strive to keep each child’s belongings organized with their bags at all times, items do sometimes become lost or left behind and it is much easier to return them to you when they are labeled clearly.
Please ensure your children come prepared to enjoy their days with us. We are diligent in making sure the children are safe and as comfortable as possible at all times.
Things We Need To Know
Remember that Prospect Park is a not a manicured environment and contains hazards like bees, poison ivy, and other irritants. We will do our best to avoid these hazards, but if your child is particularly susceptible to them, please let us know.
Please be aware that NYC posts a tick advisory for the public parks. We generally avoid areas where they are most likely to be found, but ticks do live in the park and nature can be unpredictable. Please read the advisory below and check your child after class each day.
If you do find a tick, please let us know as soon as possible.
NYC's tick advisory is posted here:http://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/health/health-topics/ticks.page
IMPORTANT: If your child has any allergies, any other medical conditions, or is taking any medication, please make sure to let us know in writing via the Child Information and Release Form and on the brightwheel app. Once we receive this information, we will send an additional permission form to parents of children who need to carry an allergy action plan, epipen, or other medication at all times in case of emergency.
Regarding bathroom use: Children will have access to the public park restrooms or our portable potette potty.
What We Will Eat
We are a tree nut and peanut-free program.
We will provide a nutritious morning and extended day afternoon snack that includes at least one fresh fruit/vegetable each session, as well as something packed with energy to help keep us exploring.
Children must bring their own lunch daily -- it is imperative that it is peanut/ tree nut free.
If your child has any dietary restrictions, please let us know in writing.
Inclement Weather Plans
We are an all-weather program and plan to learn in the sun, snow, and rain but when official weather advisories are put into place, we plan accordingly. Families will receive a brightwheel message by 6am the day of class if we are moving drop-off to the Grand Army Central Brooklyn Public Library. This location gives us the opportunity to quickly head into the park if/when the weather shifts. Indoor drop-off ensures all children and our staff are safe and sheltered during inclement weather. The only time our class location will change is when severe or inclement weather is forecast. In the case of dangerous weather, class will not be held.
In the event of an indoor drop-off situation, please see our updated inclement weather policy below:
The Brooklyn Nature Days Inclement Weather Policy offers families the option of either joining us in the library for morning drop-off or foregoing class on a day when we have to alter our plans for the weather. Families with the flexibility to forego classes on an inclement weather day may choose a make-up class for their child on another day during our fall session (regular or holiday classes). For families with the need for childcare, we will still hold class with drop-off at the library. This policy allows for a limit of 2 make-up days per session (families enrolled 5 days a week will receive 3 make-up days) and requested make-up days are subject to availability. If you have any questions about this policy, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
On library drop-off days, we diligently monitor the weather as it progresses and we will head outside as soon as it is safe. We have spent anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours in the library. We cannot anticipate ahead of time how long our time in the library will be, so please take this into consideration when deciding whether to have your child attend on a library drop-off day or not.
Any time we do need to enact our inclement weather plan, detailed instructions will be provided via brightwheel by 6am regarding where to go. If you ever have any questions regarding class location please reach out to us via brightwheel.
Thank you for choosing our program and for entrusting your children to us. We take your child’s safety and well-being, both physical and emotional, very seriously. We are deeply committed to a philosophy of outdoor, play-based learning where children lead the way and in which we foster their social and emotional growth with kindness, warmth, inquiry, and silliness. We are looking forward to playing & exploring with your child!
The Brooklyn Nature Days Team