sussex k-8 experiential School
opened at our Sussex location in September 2016 and had a successful year of learning
The idea for a K-8 forest school first took hold when the invisible doors of Tír na nÓg swung open back in 2013. We knew then that the need for woodland education was great, and so we couldn't be more pleased to begin this new chapter in our story.
Expanding the Sussex school will allow our current students to continue pursuing an experiential, nature-based education. Just as importantly, it made it possible for more and more New Brunswick children to learn in a forest school setting.
As its name suggests, our new school accommodates children and youth from Kindergarten through to Grade 8. Please don't hesitate to get in touch with us if you'd like to learn more about the Forest School model and how it can benefit your child's development. Until then, we've done our best to give you an overview here of what our program at Tír na nÓg Sussex has to offer.
What makes us different
At Forest School, children learn experientially by engaging in practical, hands-on activities and play. Students and staff alike make deep connections with the Earth by spending most of our time learning outside - in all weather - all year long. As a result, children learn critical life skills while developing emotional and social intelligence within a natural environment.
Here are just a few of the things that make Tír na nÓg stand out:
- Small, multi-aged classes
- High educator-to-student ratio
- Inquiry-based explorations
- The seamless integration New Brunswick curriculum outcomes
A natural, Holistic Learning Experience
Tír na nÓg Forest and Nature School will provide a unique learning environment to primary and middle school-aged students: children and youth will learn in both woodland and indoor classrooms, so as to ensure that the subjects they explore are consistently supported by real-world experiences.
Using a holistic approach to education that is guided by Forest and Nature School pedagogy, children will develop valuable life-skills and a life-long thirst for knowledge through project and inquiry-based learning experiences. Through hands-on experiences, children will naturally meet the outcomes of the Government of New Brunswick's Department of Education and Early Childhood Development's curriculum.
Learning outside the Box
Our educators will follow the New Brunswick curriculum using "backwards lesson planning," where the desired outcomes emerge out of the learning that unfolds as children explore their world. Educators will also develop lesson plans that will help children learn, explore and become more connected to the natural world.
Through project-based, problem-based, and inquiry-based lessons, students experience deep learning. Traditional subjects such as math, science, social studies, literacy, physical education, art, and music overlap through the practical exploration of the natural world.
Subject outcomes are then assessed using various methods: typically, a keen educator will observe and record evidence that a child has demonstrated or communicated acceptable knowledge of curriculum outcomes during explorations and play. Students will also produce their own evidence of learning through records and reflections through written, oral, or demonstrative methods that are consistent with their developmental stage. Curriculum tests will be used to demonstrate the development and learning progression of the students.
Small, integrated classes
Our child to educator ratio is small to ensure adequate time and space for our licensed teachers and outdoor educators to gently guide and support children to develop into confident and competent life-long learners. Educators direct their focus on the individuality and strengths of each student, thus enabling them to grow and to learn in their own time.
We believe that everyone has something to learn, as well as something to teach.For this very reason, children of all ages spend regular group time together each day where they have the opportunity to connect, engage, and learn as individuals and a community.
We also recognize that not all children learn in the same way or at the same pace; children are therefore given time and space to work in smaller groups based on their development, their level of understanding, and their interests. In keeping with forest school's overall ethos, children also have ample opportunity to explore concepts independently.
"The main goal of the educators is to recognize the uniqueness of every individual student and focus on that individuals strengths and learning styles to help guide him or her through their education. Learning should be fun! Our goal is to create life-long learners who have respect for the natural world."
~ Lisa Brown, Founder and Director of Tír na nÓg Forest and Nature School
Nature - Our Third Teacher
We value our natural environment and care about the future of our planet - we all depend on it.
At Tír na nÓg Forest and Nature School, learning flows endlessly and naturally between student, teacher and the environments we spend time in. We feel that being immersed in our natural environment offers the best context in which to learn critical life skills and connections essential for living a healthy and happy life. Therefore, we spend most of our time learning outdoors - in all weather - all year long.
In an outdoor setting, children are more relaxed and open to experiences that present themselves. They also have more opportunities to act on their natural instinct to move - in a productive and meaningful way.
By being immersed in nature on a regular, long-term basis throughout the unique four seasons of the New Brunswick school year, children develop a deep emotional connection to nature that will help them understand they are a key stakeholder in the complex workings of our natural world. With this mindset, it is our hope that our students will grow to be the leaders of tomorrow with a strong ecological consciousness and valued caretakers for our planet.
Learning for Life
In our program, children will learn valuable and practical life skills that will benefit them throughout their lives. A key component of our program is to challenge our students to get out of their comfort-zones and take risks. Working towards overcoming a challenge offers deep and meaningful learning. As successes accumulate - so does confidence and emotional intelligence.
Children are given opportunities to take risks as they build trust in themselves and those around them. Fire lighting and management; tool use; and physically challenging activities are some of the main activities we use to help children learn to assess and manage risk.
The concept in practice
Found in the Forest is a two-hour documentary made by Craig Cerhit- the father of a student who attends "The Environmental School Project" in Maple Ridge, British Columbia. This school has inspired our practice here at Tír na nÓg Forest and Nature School.
Below is a short clip that gives a description of their program.
In this video, Craig Cerhit describes an alternative way of learning. He highlights the benefits of attending the Environmental School.
Sussex 2016/2017 Tuition and Fees
Registration Fee: $100 (non-refundable)
Clothing and Equipment Fee: $200 (non-refundable)
Kindergarten to Grade 8 Tuition: $5,500/year
For children who are home-schooled, a part-time program is available on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- 2 Full Days (8:30 - 2:30) $100/week
Tuition and Fees are payable as a lump sum or in monthly installments.
Lump-sum Payment Discount
If a family chooses to pay tuition as a lump-sum at the beginning of the year, they will receive a discount of 2.5% on tuition.
Monthly Installment Payment Plan
10 Monthly Installments of $550 made through direct withdrawal - minimum commitment of one term.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Forest and Nature School pedagogy?
Are students outside all the time?
We are outside most of the day, but will have an indoor space that the students use during extreme weather conditions and for focus work where an indoor space is necessary.
What do you do in extreme weather?
Educators do a site risk assessment of the outdoor classroom at the beginning of every day to ensure that conditions are safe for children to explore freely. They continue to watch for hazards throughout the day - one of which can be changing weather conditions. The only time we make children go inside is during hazardous weather such as high and/or gusty winds and lightning storms.
"There is no such thing as bad weather - just bad clothing" ~ Norwegian saying.
If children are dressed appropriately for the weather, there is no reason for us to go inside, so long as they are comfortable.
What kind of training do your educators have?
We have a minimum of one New Brunswick licensed teacher and a trained Forest School Educator each day.
What do you do on inclement weather days and Professional Development days when the public schools in your district are closed?
With the rare exception of extreme inclement weather days, we remain open for those who wish to send their child to school. Parents will be notified if we do have a very good reason to be closed.
Our licensed teacher will be absent on Professional Development days so they can attend these training opportunities. We will have additional staff to fill in for them as supervisors on those days; however, planned lessons will be cancelled and students will have more time for free-play and exploration.
Do you have a hot lunch program?
We do not have a hot lunch program. Families are expected to provide their children with a packed, litterless lunch each day. However, as part of our program, children will be given opportunities to learn how to prepare and to cook healthy food over the campfire, both safely and hygienically. These events will be planned and parents notified ahead of time.
What about food allergies?
Families are required to disclose any known or suspected allergies of their child's at the time of registration. A list of any prohibited foods and substances that could potentially cause reactions to anyone in the school community will be communicated prior to the school year.
For more information, please call Lisa or Norah at (506) 433-2273.