If you couldn’t tell by now, the Eastern Ridge School is a little different from most other schools in the area! We’re proud of that and want to be sure that we are the right fit for your family. Below are some questions for you to consider:
Messy exploration: We are a nature-based school, so, not surprisingly, we are outside much of the day. Children often get dirty, muddy and wet. This might translate to extra laundry and a separate drawer for “school” clothes and “good clothes.” But not to worry – our families are experts on the best thrift stores around and are happy to pass down school clothes as they are outgrown.
Are you comfortable bringing home a dirty – but happy – child?
Animals: At Eastern Ridge, children safely interact with domestic animals and observe and study wild animals, insects, and reptiles in habitats and in nature. Children do come into contact with bees, wasps, mosquitoes, spiders, snakes and ticks. In the warmer months, it is likely that you occasionally will find ticks on your children, and we strongly urge every family to perform a daily tick check. We are careful in our teaching approach and staff knowledge but there is a certain level of risk that is unavoidable.
Are you comfortable with your child interacting with animals at the Eastern Ridge School? Will you be able to support these interactions in a positive manner?
Academics: At Eastern Ridge, academics look a little different than what you might expect. You won’t find worksheets, teacher imposed themes, or pressure to read or count or write. We believe it’s better for a child to learn to love to read at age seven than to be drilled on reading to get to mastery by age five. Our curriculum is emergent, which means it springs from the children’s interests. Teachers creatively support project work based on these expressed interests and along the way incorporate math, science and language while also developing problem-solving and social skills.
Are you comfortable with a non-traditional, non-pressuring approach to academics?
Screen Time: Most families in our community are very conscious of their children’s media exposure and most children’s screen time is limited compared to the average in this country. In our experience, some children with prolonged exposure to TV or video games are less able to engage in imaginative play, sometimes find it harder to make social connections and often bring behaviors and language to school that we try to limit, such as potty talk, name calling and competitive play.
If your child currently gets large amounts of “screen time” are you willing to make a change in your family’s viewing habits?
Discipline: We seek a balance between child-led parenting and positive discipline. We believe that clear boundaries (when set and enforced with love and reason) actually give children more freedom, not less. We offer free parenting education workshops at least twice per year with outside professionals who share their wisdom and answer questions for all of our parents.
If you do not already practice “positive discipline” or similar parenting styles, are you open to different approaches consistent with ours?
Community Participation: We are a community-driven school and rely heavily on parent support to thrive. All families are required to play an active role in school committees, campus work days, parenting education workshops and classroom events.
Are you willing and able to prioritize meetings, work days, and volunteer hours?
Independence and Healthy Risk: Of course we all want our children to be independent, competent, and confident. But how that translates at Eastern Ridge might be a little different. Our teachers encourage children on the journey to independence. This means giving them many opportunities to do things on their own, from ladling their own soup at lunch time to putting on their own gear to go outside. We encourage climbing, balancing, and navigating in nature in ways that develop children’s sensory-motor systems and build confidence and competence, but may involve a few scrapes along the way.
How does this approach mesh with your current parenting style? Do you embrace the philosophy that “risky play” is actually healthy and protective of children’s developing sense of mastery and confidence?
Food: We feel strongly about food and its impact on children. We believe in an omnivorous, nutrient-dense diet rich with pastured meats and organic dairy products, whole grains, legumes and nuts, and unrefined saturated and monounsaturated fats and plenty of seasonal, local, organic produce. Our meals are minimally processed and free of added sugars. Most meals should have something for everyone, but parents are responsible for reviewing the menu and supplementing for children with dietary restrictions.
Eastern Ridge provides lunch and afternoon snacks. Families are asked to provide a morning snack of organic vegetables on a rotating schedule.
Is your family willing to follow our sugar-free, healthy food policy at school events and participate in morning snacks (bringing organic vegetables) on a rotating schedule?