If there’s one thing we learned from 2020, it’s how to dig deep and find the fun in every season (literally and figuratively!).
It’s no secret that kids will thrive if they feel safe, secure and understood. When they are given a chance to explore the world around them in ways that make sense to them, learning comes naturally!
When the first round of pandemic closures showed us all how essential therapeutic supports really are, our team of enthusiastic therapists, teachers, RECEs and social workers put their heads together and came up with NowLearn: a social-emotional outdoor learning program designed to support families with higher needs children who were struggling with the change in learning model and the sudden lack of community and social activities. NowLearn has been running Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 9am to 12pm since September in our fantastic new clinic on Wilson St E in old Ancaster.
Since then, NowLearn has continually evolved to meet the needs of our partcipants and to meet public health guidelines as the pandemic unrolled, but our goals have remained the same – helping kids from JK – Grade 6 learn and practice emotional regulation, social fluency, mindfulness and distress tolerance through activities that build literacy, numeracy and problem solving skills – all while spending as much time as possible immersed in the great outdoors.
We discovered that when we let go of our preconceived ideas of what ‘education’ looks like, curiousity leads the way to some fantastic, organic learning opportunties.
We found that every child has something to teach us and contribute to a group. We saw children absorbing and practicing emotional regulation strategies to deal with their frustrations and discomfort.
And we have had SO. MUCH. FUN.
In the past few months we have read books out loud together, written, directed and starred in our own short firm (as well as building the props and making the costumes), built an intricate Rube Goldberg machine, engineered ingenious structures out of various found materials, splashed endlessly in creeks and hiked miles of trails.
We have examined trees, sticks, leaves and pinecones with wonder and delight, watched wildlife, learned about measurement using natural materials, written passionate essays, crafted, drawn, sang, danced, ran, invented our own board games, built obstacle courses,
learned about worm composting and started our own colony – and all while masked and distanced and working together within firm behavioural boundaries and expectations.
For this coming term, we’ve added the option of extending the day (either 9am- 12pm or 9am-3pm) with a supervised lunch break and various academic supports, including 1:1 Executive Function coaching, elementary tutoring (french-speaking available up to Gr 6),
Occupational Therapy, supervised online learning for those working on online curriculums, and more focused literacy and numeracy support.
Supports are highly personalised and tailored to each learner’s needs. As a private clinic, we have the freedom and flexibility to meet our client’s needs and pivot fast to meet changes in government and public health policies.
The program is run by MSWs and OTs as well as certified educators, and is covered by many insurance plans. We’re also an approved Ontario Autism service provider, and some services can be covered by SSAH funds.
We know the next few months are still full of unknowns and many of us are in ‘wait and see’ mode as we head into 2021.
But while NowLearn may have been born out of neccessity, we think we’ve uncovered a pretty exciting way to approach learning differently – pandemic or not!
When the forest is your classroom, who wouldn’t be excited to learn?
If you think NowLearn could be a fit for your family, give us a call at 289 678 0581, or contact us and we’ll get back to you for a complementary 30 minute intake call to see if this program would suit your child’s unique needs.
Registrations are open now for the winter term with a rolling 4 week committment (2 weeks notice to withdraw) to keep our pods as consistent as possible.
Learning can truly be a beautiful thing!