Common Questions

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  • How much is BU?

    We aim to keep BU affordable for everyone. Current pricing can be found on our "Become a Barefooter" page. There is a family enrollment fee and per child supply fee for every attending child age 5 and up.  If your family cannot join Barefoot University due to financial hardships, we invite you to apply for a scholarship.

  • What does a day at BU look like?

    It looks like a bunch of kids learning and playing outside! While every community is a little different, we generally start the same way. Your family arrives at the meeting location and Barefooters participate an opening activity. They could be nature journaling, a game, storytelling, or learning a new skill.

    After that, your group will take a hike. Then it’s off to your ”classroom” for the weekly activity. Leaders will give families directions each week and distribute supplies (if applicable) on the day of the activity. The main activity typically lasts about 60 minutes. But, often families will stay to eat, explore, and play for the remainder of the day. Leaders do not teach a lesson, but as your child’s teacher, you are welcome to for your family or BU community.

  • How do we prepare for the activity?

    Make sure to stay up to date on weekly activities by checking the Barefoot University App (available on iTunes or Google Play). You can find instructions for the current Rhythm and Cycle in the Members section under Member Resources. There are more detailed activity instructions in your BU nature journal, and your community leaders may send out weekly information.  Sometimes you may need to bring something from home or give your child instructions.

    Talk to your children about the weekly theme and check your nature journal in the days leading up to Forest School. 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 rhythm's newsletter that go along with each weekly theme and season.

  • What do we wear?

    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.

  • What should we bring to BU?

    We suggest a Forest School 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, a magnifying glass, multi-purpose tools, binoculars, a compass, and a net or bug catcher. You will also need a whittling kit most years.

    Most importantly, don't forget your water!

  • What is the curriculum?

    BU is unique as we don’t have a curriculum per se. Each year we have a Rhythm that our learning centers around.

    We provide weekly activities in theme with each rhythm and they serve as a jumping-off point for kids to explore their interests. The activities are designed as an invitation for kids to learn. We start with the basics, and depending on the age or interest of your child, the activity can be more complicated or expanded on. Outside of that, forest school is meant to explore, make friends, and spend time outside.

  • What subjects are covered?

    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!

    • Science: Scientific Inquiry, Research, Nature, STEAM
    • Social Studies: Local History, Environmental Issues, Map Making
    • Math: Measurements, Applying Concepts, Quantifying Information
    • Language Arts: Writing, Reading, Communication, Focus, Public Speaking, Story Telling
    • Fine Arts: Observing, Drawing, Artist Studies, Art Projects, Sensory Skills, Storytelling
    • Citizenship: Community Service, Social Skills
    • Physical Activity: Exercise, Teamwork, Strength, Agility, Coordination, Motor Skills
    • Health: First Aid, Herbalism, Life Cycles
    • Life Skills: Cooking, Survival Techniques, Organization, Problem Solving, Risk Analysis
  • Is it a drop off program?

    No.  For safety reasons and for us to create a true community, parents stay.

  • Is the journal secular or Christian?

    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 and want to teach about worldviews.

    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.

  • Can families with disabilities attend BU?

    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.

  • Do you provide all the supplies?

    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.

  • What about kids under 5?

    Younger siblings are free and always welcome! Most of our activities can be done “family style“ and younger siblings can easily share and join in the fun on their own.  However, since some of the more skilled activities are geared toward school-aged kids, we do not offer supplies for younger siblings. We often sell the same supplies your Barefooter(s) get on our website at a discount. You’re welcome to purchase these for younger siblings!

  • Can I bring a friend?

    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.

  • Can we bring pets?

    Out of consideration for BU families whose children have allergies or other diagnoses, 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.

  • Why isn’t there a group in my area?

    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, so 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 Lead a Community page for more info.

  • Can I get a refund if we are unable to attend meet-ups?

    Memberships are non-refundable. We buy insurance and supplies when you become a member, so 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 to other parties.

  • If I’m absent can we get supplies from the week we missed?

    Larger, individual supplies must be picked up and signed for. If you are absent when those are given out, you and your leader can coordinate pick-up in a timely manner. Unclaimed supplies will be shipped back to Barefoot University.

    BU’s success relies upon each family’s active participation. As such, group or shared supplies for each activity are available at the park on the day of the BU session during which that activity is scheduled.

  • What’s the average age of members?

    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.

  • When do you enroll?

    Enrollment for our full groups opens in April and closes June 30. These 36 week Rhythms run September - May.

    Midyear group enrollment opens in October and ends November 30th.

  • Can I transfer communities?

    Transfers will be approved as long as there is room in the group you’re transferring to. You can submit a transfer request from your account dashboard.

  • What about COVID?

    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 the tools and details to complete activities on your own.