One Day Nature Programme

Our one day nature programme is for children age 5 – 13 years. It runs from 8:45am to 2:45pm, Tuesday’s each term. 

We are currently offering enrolments for Tuesdays during term 4.

A day at Aroha Discovery One Day Nature Programme...

With the Sanctuary at Fairfield house as our home base/starting point, we will be exploring all the beauty the Nelson and Tasman forests, beaches and communities have to offer. The children will be outside 99% of the time, rain or shine. We will start our day at the Sanctuary where the children have the freedom to play on the nearby field as soon as they arrive. When everyone has arrived, and the moment is right (we aim not to disturb established play unless we have to) we gather up, check in with everyone, go over our ground rules and discuss where we are going for the day. After this short weekly catch up, we set out on our day’s adventure. May it be into the woods, or to the beach, into the hills, there will be lots of opportunities to play and learn.

"Decades of research has shown that play is crucial to physical, intellectual, and social-emotional development at all ages. This is especially true of the purest form of play: the unstructured, self-motivated, imaginative, independent kind, where children initiate their own games and invent their own rules"

David Elkind
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Within the group, our young people are seen as individuals with individual needs. We believe children are natural learners and when given time and space all manner of learning can be observed. Children are free to make their own choices and to follow their own curiosities and interest, within a framework of respect for those around them and the environment.Throughout the day planned activities will also be offered when appropriate, as will spontaneous activities as learning opportunities arise, or when children are showing a particular interest in something.

From time to time we may have other mentors come in who are skilled in areas relevant to our programme, who can provide insight and further avenues of exploration for the children. We also encourage parents, family members and friends with an active interest/applicable skills to sign up as a volunteer to share their knowledge.

On our programmes we foster the development of care – for self, and for others. We support the children in their self awareness by encouraging them to monitor how they are feeling e.g. are they too hot, too cold, are they hungry etc. On an emotional level, when conflicts arise children are coached to find solutions that are equitable and agreed upon by all – learning how to navigate emotions that arise in a safe space.

We also encourage children to find their voice when group decisions are needing to be made. Conflict resolution and learning how to participate in a democratic process are important themes that underlie our programmes at Aroha Discovery. Evidence shows that when children are actively involved in the decision making process they are more accepting of the results, it increases their sense of belonging to the group, and they take more ownership in upholding any rules that have been made.

Our day is underpinned by authentic learning in real world situations so that the children are invested in the outcomes they choose.

The following link will take you through to the online enrolment form. Once submitted and received by us you will be sent a printed version of your answers along with any additional forms required (as indicated by your answers) for you to complete and sign. You will also receive an invoice by email detailing payment instructions to secure your child’s spot on the programme.

Getting the OK from your Child’s School

To initiate the approval process you may first want to discuss the programme with your child’s teacher and/or principal to get their support. You will then need to write a letter to your child’s school board explaining your reasons for wanting your child to attend our programme, and send it along with our letter (button opposite). We encourage you to view our resources section for further information on the benefits of nature schooling and free play so you are well versed for any discussions with your child’s school around this. We can then provide support and documentation as needed for the school board to approve your child’s attendance.

Recommended read: How to be a nature-play advocate

One Day Programme - Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many places do you have on your programme/how often do you run them?

    We can take a maximum of 16 children on each one day programme. We are currently offering the programme twice a week (Tuesdays and Wednesdays), and will expand to other days as the demand increases. The programmes run during school term time.

  • What are the adult/child ratios?

    Our max is 1 adult to 8 children but we aim to have 1 adult to 6 children. We require volunteers to aid the facilitator in order for this programme to run. You will be asked this question in the enrolment form and the programme can not run without a minimum of 1 volunteer each day. If you register to volunteer we send you a copy of the roster showing which day(s) you are assigned and what to expect. We provide training for these positions and parents are expected to undergo a police check for which you will be sent the application for, or you can get a head start and download the form from the NZ Police website.

  • How often does my child need to attend?

    We take bookings by the term so there is continuity among the group for that period. This adds to a feeling of security for the children and helps them build relationships with one another. You may book your child to attend more than once a week (for the entire term). This, however, may change if waitlists become too long.

  • My child has special needs, how do you approach this?

    It’s been the experience of many educators that children with special needs greatly benefit from attending nature programmes. Please let us know your situation and we’ll work alongside you and your child’s school to ensure they get the most out of our programme.

  • Do you allow visits?

    Yes, please register your interest using our contact us form and we will be in touch to arrange this.

  • Do you have NZ registered teachers?

    As we are not a registered school (yet), and the programme is specifically nature-based it is not actually a requirement by the Ministry of Education for us to be registered or to have an NZ registered teacher taking the programmes. Many programmes like this around New Zealand (and the world) are run with facilitators with a diverse range of background/skills but with the key element of having experience and training in nature-based learning. We ensure our facilitators have relevant experience and qualifications, have training and support to fulfill their roles to their best potential. We pick our facilitator’s based on past experience, and their passion for the ideas behind our core philosophies. Ours is a community of learners and we apply this philosophy to everything we do at Aroha Discovery with continual development and training opportunities for all our staff. Information about our facilitators is available on our About Us page.

  • How is your nature programme related to the NZ Curriculum?

    The NZ Curriculum identifies five key competencies for living and to become lifelong learners.

    • Thinking
    • Using language, symbols, and texts
    • Managing self
    • Relating to others
    • Participating and contributing.

    The ideas behind the key competencies are to build up ideas, values, skills and an attitude that help children to live, learn, (eventually) work and contribute as active members of their communities.

    The development of the competencies is not just the end goal but a means by which they are achieved i.e. through experience.

    It’s acknowledged that we are social creatures and we adopt and adapt practices that we see used and valued by those closest to us, making those practices part of our own identity and expertise. They also develop over time through exposure to different people, places, ideas and things.

    Our programmes help to expand on these key competencies children are already starting to develop in their usual school setting by exposing them to different environments where they are faced with new people, places, experiences, and challenges. Each time they attend they are expanding their neural pathways because the natural environment is an ever-changing place e.g. weather/seasons and terrain. They become more alert and engaged because there is always something new to see or experience. 

  • How does this work with children enrolled at state schools?

    Most schools are very supportive of their students attending nature programmes. The benefits are often very evident to teachers. Following is an example given to us by a parent who helps run Nature Kids Co-op in Auckland. It’s feedback from a teacher concerning her son who was attending the Conscious Kids One Day Programme at the time…

    “I believe that Conscious Kids helps children develop their problem-solving skills and helps them to understand and control emotions in a safe, secure, and fun environment. I  am a primary school teacher and had a child attend Conscious Kids one day a week over the course of half the year. From their attendance I saw a change in how the child was able to function in the school environment, they were able to manage their emotions a lot better and were able to solve problems in the playground more effectively.  They were able to remove themselves from situations and were able to calm themselves down and rejoin activities a lot quicker than before. I think that Conscious Kids has a great role to play for many students in today’s world as “play” is an important part of a child’s emotional and social development, which many children no longer experience in their lives outside of school or programmes like this.” – Regards Melissa Arriagada

    Under section 71 of the Ministry of Education Act it states:

    71 Courses, work experience, and visits outside school premises

    1. Except as provided in this section, a board may authorise any students to—
    1. undertake courses of education; or
    2. obtain work experience; or
    3. make visits;—

    outside the school premises; and where the board has done so, a student shall be deemed to be attending the school while undertaking the course, obtaining the experience, or making the visit.

    To initiate the approval process you may first want to discuss the programme with your child’s teacher and/or principal to get their support. You will then need to write a letter to your child’s school board explaining your reasons for wanting your child to attend our programme, and send it along with this letter from us. We encourage you to view our resources section for further information on the benefits of nature schooling and free play so you are well versed for any discussions with your child’s school around this. We can then provide support and documentation as needed for the school board to approve your child’s attendance.

  • Can homeschooled children attend the programme?

    Yes, homeschooled children can attend our programme. As this is a one day nature programme (not a state registered school) your child can still attend and will not lose their exemption status.

  • Do you offer discounts for siblings?

    Unfortunately we are not able to offer discounts at this time.

  • What happens if my child misses a day or is unable to attend your programme?

    Aroha Discovery School is an initiative developed by the charity Arohanui Learning Communities Trust. Our programmes are a private, fee charging educational service. We rely solely on fees and donations to provide this service and are unable to provide refunds for missed attendance unless in the case of sickness or injury. Please refer to our fees policy for full details.

  • What does my child need to have with them when attending your programme?

    You will be provided with a parent handbook upon enrolment which details all you need to know about the running of the programme and what your child will need.

  • What are the fees?

    Fees are calculated at $60 per session. Please see our fee schedule for full details.