How old must my child be to attend?
Typically, children must be 3 1/2 before their first day of school. My program is licensed for children as young as 3 (and I do consider younger three year olds on a case-by-case basis), but I find most children benefit immensely from the extra half year of maturation before joining our outdoor program. It’s important to set the children up for success, and stronger impulse control and self awareness helps all of us stay safer in the often-unpredictable wilderness.
What is your policy on immunizations?
Beginning September 2020, new students will be required to meet Texas Minimum State Vaccine Requirements as outlined on the Texas Health and Human Services website, details here. Non-medical exemptions will no longer be accepted. Medical exemptions and children actively on a catch-up schedule will be considered.
Does my child need to be toilet trained?
Yes. Due to the fact that our classes are routinely held outside where bathroom/changing facilities are limited, teachers must be vigilantly supervising the group, and van rides are integrated into our adventures, it is important they have a good handle on this skill before attending WS. Of course, accidents and regressions are typical in the early childhood classroom, and we are certainly prepared to support this.
How many children are in the class?
We are a small group of 8 children and 1-2 teachers. (1 while on site, 2 while on adventures)
What are your hours?
Our school day is from 9AM-2PM, with options to attend 2, 3, or 5 days per week. (T/Th, MWF, M-F)
Does WS provide after school care or extended days?
We currently offer an optional, extended day from 2-3:30 on M/W/F (this includes nap time and a snack), but this offering will vary from year to year depending on demand and teacher availability.
Do you follow Austin ISD’s calendar?
Loosely. Our school year runs from September through May, and we take a 3 day fall break, 2 week winter break, 1 week spring break, as well as a few Monday holidays in the spring. View our 2020-21 calendar here.
Are meals provided by the school?
The school provides a morning snack which includes whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Parents provide a picnic lunch.
Do parents provide a car seat?
No. Our school van is equipped with car seats. The seats are all federally approved and children are required to be properly secured at all times while the vehicle is moving.
How often does the class take wilderness trips?
We travel to nearby wilderness areas at least three times per week and spend two days in our backyard play space.
If the class is outdoors all day, how do you keep the children safe in extreme temperatures?
We dress for the weather! Lots of warm layers in the winter, of course. Summer is when temperatures are most extreme, so the children stay cool in their swimsuits with water play as soon as the day starts heating up. We stick to creek areas for field trips and keep the sprinklers flowing in the backyard.
What is The Reggio Emilia Approach?
This is a philosophy centered on the belief that children are competent, curious, creative and ambitious learners with the right to co-construction of knowledge. Children are given the opportunity to be researchers, to explore, observe, question, hypothesize and learn through the form of play, projects and experiences. Teachers are co-learners and collaborators, actively engaged in the research process alongside their students. The carefully designed, rich and inspiring classroom environment is seen as the “third teacher” and plays a crucial role. (This is my extremely broad overview of an approach that is complex, beautiful and very difficult to sum up. I encourage you to click here if you’re interested in learning more!)
Is the program licensed?
Yes. We are licensed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Child Care Licensing Division. Child Care Licensing routinely inspects all aspects of the program and provides information on recent inspections through their website. With a few exceptions, licensed child care homes are required to meet the same safety and educational standards as larger child care centers.