We aim to keep BU affordable for everyone. Yearly enrollment is $75 per family. There is a $30 supply fee for every attending child age 5+ by 8/28. If your family is unable to join Barefoot University due to financial hardships, we invite you to apply for a scholarship.
It looks like a bunch of kids playing outside! While every community is a little different, we generally start the same way. Your family arrives at the meeting location and kids participate in a free play, nature show and tell, or group game. Then at a designated time, your group will likely hike to your ”classroom” area for the weekly activity (or other location).
Leaders will give families the directions prior to the meet up and distribute supplies (if applicable) the day of the activity. The activity typically lasts about 60 mins. But, often times families will stay to eat, explore, and play for the remainder of the day. Leaders do not teach. You’re your child’s teacher.
Make sure to stay up to date on your weekly activity by checking the Barefoot University App (available on iTunes or Google Play). Click “members,” “resources,” then the rhythm and cycle. You will know what to bring and what the activity is. Also, read the current weekly info that your community leaders communicate. Sometimes you may need to bring something for home or give your child instructions.
Talk to your children about the weekly theme in the days leading up to Forest School. Your nature book will have a page for each week. This will pique their curiosity, get them excited, and give them basic knowledge about our activity.
You can also do extension activities from the current rhythms newsletter that go along with each weekly theme and season.
Dress for the weather. Rain boots, waterproof jackets, cold weather suits, gloves, hats, and bare feet will all be needed. Also, make sure your children have adequate water (water packs work great!) and snacks each week.
We suggest a FS backpack to help keep all your supplies in one place and make getting out the door easier. Hikes are more fun when you’re prepared. Optional supplies would be: a whistle, field guides, a microscope, magnifying glass, multi-purpose tools, binoculars, a compass, and a net or bug catcher. You will also need a whittling kit most years.
Forest school is what you make it. As the parent, you decide how deep you want to go. But our activities have the potential to expand across all subjects. Since they’re rooted in play, your kids may not even realize learning is happening!
No. For safety reasons and for us to create a true community, parents stay.
Our motto is “Parents are their child‘s teacher.” We leave control to the parents. We also believe it is more important for children to hear what their own parents believe about worldviews than to hear what we believe.
Our activities and nature journals are neutral and do not endorse, add-in, or exclude any particular religions (or lack of religion.)
As the parent you are in charge of your child’s education, so you can take the lesson in any direction or depth that you want for your family.
Absolutely! We have tons of kids and adults in our program with disabilities. Please be aware that hiking is sometimes a part of forest school and not all trails are handicap accessible. Your community leaders can help navigate this for you. For additional help or support on this issue please reach out to Kristin Palen, our support liaison for Barefooters with disabilities.
Your supply fee covers a yearly nature journal/book. Most other supplies will come from nature, BU will provide the rest. Occasionally, we will ask you to bring items that you probably already have around your house. (i.e.: scissors, a Sharpie, etc., or personal items like binoculars) Your group leaders will let you know when to bring something.
Younger siblings are free and always welcome! They can participate in activities and join in games if they want to. Although, since some of the more skilled activities are geared towards school aged kids, we do not offer supplies for younger siblings. Children under five may non register. Most of our activities can be done “family style“ though and younger siblings can easily share and join in the fun on their own.
For liability reasons, we ask that you don’t bring friends unless they’re enrolled in BU. We do have “open house” and “family and friends” events occasionally. Ask your leader for more information.
Out of consideration for BU families whose children have allergies or other diagnosis, we ask that you don’t bring animals to meetups unless it’s a service pet. We also want to avoid pet conflicts, no one wants kids to be caught in between a dog fight. Each group dynamic is different though, so you might want to check with your leader.
We wish there was! We would love for every child to have access to our forest schools. The benefits are life changing for families, we have experienced it over and over again. Our desire is for all homeschooling families to experience nature. We are always looking for new leaders. If your area doesn’t have a group, we encourage you to start one. It is easier than you think! Check out our Start a Community page for more info.
Because we buy insurance and supplies when you become a member, we are not able to give refunds or discounts once you’ve enrolled. Your membership is good from Sep-May and you can jump in any time. Memberships are not transferable.
BU’s success relies upon each member family’s active participation. As such, supplies for each activity are available at the park the day of the BU session during which that activity is scheduled. If the supplies are not picked up, they are donated back to BU for future use and will not be available for pick up. If supplies are not taken home by the end of the activity, they are considered forfeited.
Every group is different. Our program is designed for families with kids of all ages. Some groups may have more older kids and some may have more younger kids. The average age seems to be about 10, with some younger and some older.
We open for enrollment every April. Enrollment closes June 30. Our year runs September thru May.
Transfers will be approved as long as there is room in the group you’re transferring to. You can find out more and send us a transfer request.
We ask that you do not come to forest school if you are sick with any virus. All of our “group” activities can be done without close contact. When it comes to participating in weekly meetups, we encourage everyone to do what’s best for their families. If that means doing activities outside of the group setting or on your own, feel free to grab your weekly supplies and find a secluded spot for your kids. We want everyone to be comfortable being in nature.
If for some reason restrictions limit outdoor meetings, your nature journal can still be done at home! We will give you all tools and details to complete activities on your own.