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The Nature School

LaFontaine Early Learning Center is excited to add to our family of schools for the 2021 school year! We intend to launch The Nature School at LaFontaine Early Center in March, 2021. The Nature School will serve children that are 3 (pre-school) or 4 (pre-kindergarten).

There are a few reasons we’ve chosen to add this educational offering to the collection of LaFontaine schools in Madison County.

  • We want to create opportunities for children to connect with outdoor environments. We want them to learn in spaces that encourage movement and physical activity. Research tells us that direct exposure to nature is essential for physical and emotional health. We will incorporate an abundance of outdoor learning spaces to serve as the primary areas for schooling at The Nature School.

  • We want to connect our young learners to the agrarian heritage of Central Kentucky by building experiences with the land. We will build soft skills like industry and empathy as we care for alpacas, goats, a miniature cattle breed, and honeybees on our 12.5 acre farm. Additionally, we will reinforce the aforementioned and instill responsibility and the ethic of caring through gardening activities. 

  • Nature-based schooling is gaining popularity throughout the United States. The LaFontaine family of schools strives to be at the front of innovation in Central Kentucky. We've taken notice of this movement and seek to ensure that the children in our community have the same opportunities that their peers from around the country and world have.

This video presents a visual overview of nature schools. We’re studying these types of educational environments throughout the country as we build our own version in Madison County.

Join our wait list for The Nature School to indicate your interest and be included on updates and enrollment information.

Our Location

We are currently constructing our facility for The Nature School. Check out the renderings we commissioned for the design of our facility. The space will be an open floor plan designed to facilitate our indoor learning activities only when we face extremely inclement weather and can't enjoy outdoor learning. We're working extremely hard to accomplish this. 

Read more about our plans from the Richmond Register. 

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FAQs

What does a normal day at The Nature School look like?

A day at The Nature School will be structured like a day at one of our sister centers. Early learning experiences will be guided by lesson plans and be organized in blocks of time. Our young learners will rotate activities throughout their day. The main difference is that these early learning experiences will predominantly occur outside in one of four outdoor learning spaces. Learning at The Nature School will involve components of nature on our farm as well as care for our docile livestock.    

 

Do you teach skills?

Early learning at The Nature School is guided by Brigance Early Childhood. We will build and assess competencies in areas like visual and gross motor skills, color and picture identification, early language, counting, and oral communication. You can see a more complete outline of the skills we will build and assess in your child by viewing this link. Parents may expect to conference with our teachers twice per year. 

How much are my children outside? How do you maintain safety?

Our goal is for our students to have rich outdoor experiences. We recognize the need to make safety the highest priority so that these experiences are safe. We will use a supplemental indoor space (as pictured above) when weather keeps us from being outside. We will have designated outdoor learning spaces and shade structures that we can use when needed. During warm months we will monitor conditions through the use of a wet bulb globe temperature meter. Limitations for outdoor activity will be set according to heat readings. Similar strategies will be used during cold months. We will monitor hydration and exposure to the elements and build risk mitigation strategies around these components of The Nature School.

How are children expected to dress for their experience at The Nature School?

We will offer specific guidance for dress during each season of the year. You may expect introductory guidance to be linked in the near future. 

 

How many children are in each class?

Each class has a capacity of 12 children.  

Will my child nap?

Per Kentucky early childhood direction, children will be given a rest period once per day. Many students will choose to nap. Others are welcome to use the time as a quiet resting period but remain awake.