What Children Learn at Micro-SchoolAny lesson that can happen in a classroom can also happen outside. We take academic experiences to the next level by immersing students in nature every day.
Naturalist Studies Reading, writing, life and earth sciences, taxonomy, and history.
Plants and Botany Life sciences, ethnobotany, nutrition, and food science.
Wildlife Tracking Ecology, wildlife, empathy, pattern recognition, and mapping.
Forest Craft Handcraft, materials selection, and sustainable harvesting.
Ecology Biology, the scientific method, and local ecosystems..
Ornithology (birds) Species identification through visual and auditory means.
Social Tracking Team leadership, presentation, community skills, and ethics.
Silent Movement Stealth skills, balance, physical health.
We cultivate intelligence, awareness, and adaptability through the art and science of tracking. A tracker reads tracks like letters on the ground, stringing them into the stories of the animals who left them. By learning to survive and live with nature, students develop agile thinking, planning and research skills, creativity, and a profound awareness of nature and systems thinking. All of our core subjects promote self-reliance and community care.
Experiential education outdoors immerses students in their education in ways that traditional models can’t. With a holistic, learner-centered focus, students become invested in their education and foster a lifelong relationship with the land, their mentors and classmates, and the community. They are encouraged to push their own boundaries through supported risks, thereby teaching them independence, resilience, and perseverance outside of four walls. Instead of stand-alone subjects taught in a vacuum, skills and lessons are woven together, becoming transferrable across environments and connecting students to the world around them.
Forest Skills can be fire-by-friction, wood carving, stone tools, fiber arts, and even campfire cooking; our studies do not stop there. Through study in forest craft, students build their own experience with our shared human heritage and form a deep-rooted desire for continued learning. As students grow in knowledge and skills, new avenues for exploration open naturally. Outdoor skills aren’t just limited to the more tangible archery and navigation; the natural world also builds self-esteem and confidence, positive relationship development, and creative problem-solving.
We draw inspiration from many educators: Maria Montessori, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ray Mears, Jon Young, Daniel Quinn, Nancy J. Turner, and many others.
Our Grade Divisions
Micro-School student work in cross-grade cohorts. Sometimes we study in a larger group; other times students are put into pairs or smaller groups that correspond to their particular developmental level. That said we mostly divide our students into the following groups:
- Kindergarten (age 5-6)
- Elementary (Age 7-10)
- Middle (Age 11-14)
- High School (age 14+)
Why mixed ages?
Children are all individuals who learn at their own speed. A child who may move more quickly through math or tracking lessons may also benefit from additional support in reading or handcraft. In a multi-grade cohort, students move fluidly amongst peer groups without stigma and the teacher can collaborate with them to find their optimal learning pace. A multi-age group also allows a child to progress from the role of a younger learner to a more confident leader who also can help others and the community grow.
Due to the unique developmental needs of very young children, we separate out the Kindergarten class into their own group for much of the time. Regardless of grades, all classes are part of the larger village and will interact with each other regularly and consistently through lesson collaboration, inter-grade mentorships, and community events.
A kindergarten student may learn about engineering and thermodynamics through building a shelter, or explore pattern recognition by mapping local bird movements. An elementary age student might practice writing and communication by writing their own field guide to local edible plant species. A middle school student may research hand-crafted shelters through history and develop their own design… then build it.
Our goal is to prepare our students for any path in life and empower them to choose a direction that serves their community and the greater world. At Micro-School, we do not just teach students day-to-day: We engage their innate curiosity to learn and inspire them to seek new avenues of comprehension. Students become lifelong learners. When subject matter is made relevant through practical and transferable skills, children are immersed and invested in their education, thereby retaining more and pursuing further study.