We are a nature-oriented private school with a STEM focus and a Spanish language program.
Students in our school will learn many of the subjects and content that can be found in other schools serving the same grade levels, but our approach is different. We aim to spend almost half of the day outside and do not sacrifice play and active outdoor time in the name of advanced academics. We have small mixed-age classes with dedicated instructors who are able to provide both support and challenge to each individual in the class. It is the students themselves who take command of their own scholarship, doing so because they have cultivated a love of learning.
Our students carry a very light homework load
In the Lowers class, students should expect to have no required homework, though there can be long-term projects which would be appropriate for a student to work on at home. Uppers are more likely to have semi-regular homework, not only because they tend to have more detailed projects and longer writing exercises but also for the reinforcement of certain skills by repeated practice.
Our instructors maintain a low screen usage rate
American school age children under the age of 12 average around 4 hours of “screen time” per day; teenagers average closer to 8 hours per day. Although we are aware of a number of great computer applications to enhance classroom learning, we are taking an intentionally “tech-lite” posture. Our instructors will occasionally use screens to engage on certain topics, we do not intend to let computers become a standard means for content delivery. While it is true that the students’ future educational, job, and life experiences are likely to have computers and screens as a ubiquitous presence, we believe that it makes sense to hold the screens at bay in our program.
Edson Forest School will hold classes during the school year from 9:00am until 3:00pm. We will prepare a calendar for the full 180 day school year before the start of the school year, generally following holidays and teacher workdays set by Rockingham County Public Schools to assist with those families who may have a sibling in another school in addition to ours.
We are aware that a pick-up between 3:00 and 3:15pm may not work for every family, and we are contemplating adding an enrichment class after school until 5:00pm. This would require an additional fee per child if we do offer that option. Please let us know your thoughts early in the application process so we can decide whether there is enough demand to justify the offering.
Typical daily schedule
Drop off is between 8:30 and 8:45am, giving everyone time to get settled and ready for yoga at 9:00am. Morning is also a time for centering oneself and preparing for the day, and our morning meetings aim to help every child develop focus and a sense of belonging.
After morning meeting, the two classes will each go to their primary classroom and begin work which will focus on building and reinforcing academic skills. Math, language, and history are all primary topics of study, but the ability to communicate and write about these subjects also presents an opportunity for growth.
After the morning academics, the students will be released to recess, usually outdoors for a minimum of 45 minutes. Lunch is most usually indoors, but as long as weather permits, the class may opt for outdoor dining.
After lunch, the afternoon block of time is generally going to involved outdoors activities. On some days, a class might hike or learn primitive survival skills. On other days, the class may have an art focus or cook around the fire pit. About half of the time, though, the students should be collaborating on an active learning exercise, with the instructors providing ideas and guidance but largely allowing the students to take the lead role in developing their own knowledge base and designing their own experiments. Although this method of learning will require some adaptation and flexibility on the part of both students and adults, soon enough the children will be taking a lead role in their own scientific explorations while following both the scientific method and their own natural curiosity.
Finally, at the end of the day the classes will return to their respective rooms for debrief and learner-led talk about the day. Parent pick-ups will take place between 3:00 and 3:30pm, and we will send the students home with no homework unless a class has projects for individual students, which should be suited for solo effort at home. We are contemplating the idea of having paid after-school enrichment classes to better accommodate those families who may not be able to come until after 5:00pm, but have not finalized those plans yet.