How we developed
Our Mission, Vision, and Values
Every child deserves to be taught in a way that is respectful of the natural learner and in an environment that nurtures their learning journey in the most healthy and effective way. Here at Woodson Branch, we follow the most current research-based practices for effectively teaching children, which include:
Engaging students physically, both inside and in nature
Creating an inclusive learning curriculum that teaches social-emotional skills in tandem with the academics
Nurturing a community of service and care for the environment and one another
We teach our students about growing, eating and sharing whole and healthy foods. In this, we nurture their creativity and imagination, encouraging their innovative ideas. We provide them opportunities in learning to become stewards of the Earth, following Leave No Trace principles. We teach developmentally appropriate, physically engaging curriculum on-par with the logical building of academic concepts while relevant to living a fulfilled life. We get to know our students and differentiate our lessons for them as individuals while helping them grow together as a learning community.
Our parents are our partners. We work together in all things related to their child’s education. As we chart your child’s learning journey together, we maintain consistent communication throughout the days and months, asking questions and keeping you up-to-date as we go.
We care deeply about our colleagues, partners, members, and greater communities. We’re always learning from the experience and expertise of our elders and local professionals and know that together we are building a path for stronger, healthier spaces to live, work, and play.
Why Learn Outside?
There are proven physiological, social and academic benefits to learning outside, but don’t just take our word for it. Take a peek at the studies below that share the incredible power of students being engaged in their learning journey outside:
The Prairie Science Class Study: Fifth-grade students attend school regularly at a local prairie wetlands, where science, math, and writing are taught in an integrated, experiential way as students participate in onsite research. When compared to peers attending regular schools, students who attended school outside had significantly stronger reading and writing skills and reported feeling more excited about school.
Toronto School District Study: Another study across 387 schools in Toronto found that students at schools with more tree cover performed better academically, especially those coming from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Imagine if they not only attended school where there were trees, but students actually experienced extended exposure to them on a daily basis throughout their school day….like they do here at WBNS!
Here at Woodson Branch, students take BOTH indoor and outdoor lessons, experiencing and participating in real chemistry and scientific inquiry in the gardens, the woods, and the creeks in their Outdoor Education and Agriculture classes and conducting research and learning vocabulary in the classroom. This combination is proven to be extremely effective for long-term retention of information and healthier, happier young learners.
Project-Based Learning in Action: Farm, Forest, and Art
Woodson Branch Nature School cares deeply about our planet. We are committed to teaching our students using methodologies that help create a more sustainable future. Students are able to learn using project-based models that allow them to retain information more easily as they are physically engaged every step of the way.
“Farm” is our Agriculture Program and our “Forest” is where we host our Outdoor Education Program. "Art", in and of itself, is a mind opener and is embedded throughout the curriculum. We live in a world where the elements of design surround us and it is our work to create. As children have quick access to their imagination, we always aim to keep that internal path open.
In these spaces, students are:
Gardening and Being Physically Active While Learning
Learning the Essentials of Outdoor Space
Caring for Animals and the Earth
Being Nurtured + Inspired to Use their Imagination in Innovative Ways