North Vancouver Nature School
Is your family looking for a hands-on, community-based experience learning in nature?
Our North Vancouver Nature School provides elementary school-aged children ages 5 to 12 with a two day per week nature-based learning opportunity in forest and farm settings. We've partnered with the Powell River School District’s Island Discovery program to offer a program for school-aged children who enroll as Distributed Learners.
Learning takes place outdoors and occasionally indoors in mixed-aged groups of children. The children explore nature through hands-on activities, hikes, and play in forest and farm settings. Families combine our program with their own home and community-based learning activities. Our program focuses on exploring local places and covers many topic areas such as science, engineering, social studies, physical education, art, music, drama, and storytelling.
Please note that this is an enrichment program for families who enroll with the Powell River School District through the Island Discovery Program. Students do not need to live in Powell River. The other three days a week, families follow their own learning plan. Contact us to register.
A Typical Day
with our North Vancouver Nature School
A typical day in our program is guided by the interests of the children and families, our seasonal interactions with local environments, and the resources of teachers and community members. One day a week we visit the forest, and the other day we visit farms, gardens, and beaches. Our days involve:
Exploration – learning from a place and what the day brings
Play - imaginative play and structured games
Natural history – taught through a child’s interests and passions
Hands-on work in traditional skills, permaculture, and farming
Community – building our social-emotional skills in community
Service - connecting to and helping the wider community
Field trips - getting to know our local places
At Fresh Air Learning, we foster respect and wonder for the diverse and complex people, places, and ecosystems of our world. We are grateful for each other and the places where we learn, and we value respectful communication, connection to our community and our ecosystems.
Freedom to explore and play
Opportunity to express our feelings and interests
Respect for people, places, and ecosystems
Wonder in the beauty, diversity, and complexity of the world
Gratitude for each other and the places in which we learn
Communication that respects and values everyone's needs
Contribution to our learning community and the wider community
Respect for local First Nations and the values, experiences, and histories of all aboriginal peoples
Connection with ecosystems and the community at large
We learn from and in nature. Our seasonal and daily rituals and routines connect us to our local ecosystems.
Children have the opportunity to explore and experiment with their environment by themselves and with others. Facilitators watch emerging interests, provide resources, and ask questions that lead children into new avenues for exploration.
Innovation and Engagement
We work to foster a love of learning and cultivate the desire to explore new learning opportunities. Our facilitators provides opportunities and encouragement for divergent thinking. Children have the ability to co-create learning opportunities.
Spontaneous and Committed
We support children to explore freely and engage more deeply. We encourage children to pursue interests over time and contribute to their community through service learning.
Learning in Community
Our program places a high value on being part of all of the communities that surround us. We teach and learn in a way that supports collaboration and builds community. We value small group learning within a multi-aged group. Our program welcomes parent participation and involves community organizations in the children’s learning.
Forest School: At forest school, children play and learn in natural places. In these spaces, they learn through imaginative play and exploration. The teacher acts as a facilitator, bringing in resources to help the children deepen their understanding of a topic.
Folk School: Folk school fosters empowerment for community resilience through the teaching and learning of traditional skills, techniques, and crafts.
Tinkering School: We are also inspired by the Tinkering School’s vision of providing children with “real tools to solve real problems in the real world.”
Coyote Mentoring: We love the questioning techniques, sensory learning, and strong daily and seasonal rhythms of Wilderness Awareness School's "invisible school."
Permaculture Design: Permaculture is a system of ecological design and whole systems thinking that inspires us to become conscious designers of the places and systems in which they live.
Staff and Parents
Child to Adult Ratios
The full capacity for the program is 28 students. Adults involved in our program include a BC certified teacher, mentor teachers from Fresh Air Learning, and parents and/or community volunteers. We have a 1:9 ratio of staff to students. With the addition of our parent and community volunteers, we often have a 1:5 adult to child ratio.
The Fresh Air Learning elementary program is funded and administered by the Powell River School District through the Island Discovery Distributed Learning program. Our certified teacher also provides support to families for their home- and community-based learning. We have chosen to use the children’s additional learning funds to hire a second teacher for the program. Meet our teachers here!
Parent Participation and Learning
We believe families are central to children’s learning. We ask that all families contribute to our program in some way, either by volunteering with the children or by volunteering to assist our program behind the scenes. Parents are welcome to participate as volunteer teachers, assist with special events, and attend parent sharing and education evenings.
Currently, this program is offered in North Vancouver, but the program may also include field trips to other locations in the Metro Vancouver area.
When: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30-2:30
Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve (Tuesday)
Maplewood Farm, Loutet Farm, other farm and garden sites (Thursday)
For more information on course schedules, fees, and application deadlines, please visit our Registration page.