Awarded Outstanding EE Program in 2021 by AAEE & Educator of the Yr in 2022 by AZGFD.
How long is the ECO program? Our program consists of 17 weeks, broken into 2 semesters. The Fall semester is 7 weeks and runs from late August - early December and the Spring semester is 9 weeks and runs from January - early May.
What day is the ECO program on and what are the times? Each program meets every other week. The Pathfinders meet from 10:00 am - 12:30 pm. The Trailblazers, Discoverers, Adventurers, Explorers and Navigators meet from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm. The Show Low Explorers program meets from 12:00 pm - 3:30 pm. The Teen Naturalist program meets on Friday from 10:00 pm - 12:30 pm. We ask that students try to arrive 10 minutes early for class. View the calendar here.
Are there any additional class dates that aren't listed on the calendar? Yes, we will have several optional fieldtrips at local venues. These fieldtrip opportunities will compliment our yearly themes. We may also offer a spring camping trip. All of these opportunities will have extra associated fees.
What topics will be covered during the year? The Pathfinders themes will be Fossils and Pollinators. The Trailblazers themes will be Fossils and Nocturnal Animals. The Adventurers themes will be Fossils and Canines and Felines of AZ. The Explorers themes will be Geology and Water in AZ.
How does a typical ECO day look? You can view examples of the schedules on each program pages.
What ages/grades may attend ECO? We are expanding our program offerings and will be offering 11 programs in 3 counties so that we can better serve families. Our ages/grades for each program are recommendations and we trust that you know what content level your child(ren) can handle. So we are ultimately leaving the program selection up to the parents to decide. If you are unsure about which program would be best for your child(ren) please reach out to us via text, phone or email.
Can my child attend more than one program? Yes, we have some families who want to attend weekly so they attend multiple programs. We do offer an additional discount if you wish to attend more than one program.
Is the program drop off? Our Trailblazer, Discoverer, Adventurer, Explorer, Navigator and Teen Naturalist programs are optional drop off. If a parent(s) wants to stay at class with their child we are fine with that, we have many parents that enjoy learning alongside their child(ren). On the registration form you will be asked to list any adults authorized to pick up your children from class, their IDs will be checked. Our Pathfinders program will require a parent/caregiver staying with and assisting their child(ren).
How much is the tuition? Please visit the program pages for further details on tuition. We do offer returning student discounts and sibling discounts.
Do you accept late registrations? If a class is not full we do accept registration at anytime throughout the year and will prorate the tuition fee to deduct the cost of any classes your child missed. Classes do not necessarily build upon each other so joining late doesn't hinder your child's experience.
Is Educating Children Outdoors insured? ECO is an LLC and also carries liability insurance. You can view our COI here.
What payment methods do you accept? We prefer that payments be sent via PayPal friends and family option or ESA Class Wallet. We can also accept Venmo and Zelle.
Do you accept ESA? We are an ESA approved vendor. On the registration form there is an ESA option that you can select. We will send you an invoice after we receive your registration form so that you can pay using Class Wallet. Please note s 2.5% processing fee will be added to the invoice.
Do you have scholarships available? We do have a scholarship fund that we are trying to fund so that we can offer scholarships to families that need financial assistance. Funding this account has been slow moving though. We have a couple donation links throughout the website, including the sponsors page. We also have an option on the registration form to include a donation to this fund with your registration fee. If we don't have any funds available we can try to work out a payment arrangement with you. Please email or text us to discuss scholarship funds or payment arrangements.
Are there sibling discounts? Yes, we offer a $20 sibling discount. We also offer a supply fee option of $50 per semester, for younger siblings that will be tagging along with their older siblings and may not be participating in all of the activities, but do want to do some of them.
If I register my child(ren) for only the Fall semester is my child(ren) guaranteed a spot in the Spring semester? Yes, we guarantee our Fall only registrations spots in the Spring semester and ask that they confirm they want to attend in the Spring and pay by October 16th.
What is included in the cost of the program? The majority of the class materials are included, except those indicated in the following FAQ. We hope to include several field tools, like a magnifying glass, ruler, etc....we are still trying to find sponsors and/or obtain donations to help purchase these items. Each child enrolled will also receive a nature exploration kit filled with valuable resources including a pencil, bookmark, eraser, bug catcher and more from our sponsors.
What materials will I need to provide for classes? This list includes items that you will need for class or that we recommend you have for class (if possible).
Where will classes be held? We will have 4 class locations in 2022-2023 Thunderbird Conservation Park in Glendale, Desert Mountain Park in Queen Creek, Marana Heritage Park in Marana, and Show Low Creek Meadow Park.
*ECO has no affiliation with these parks and the City of Queen Creek, City of Gilbert, City of Marana, City of Glendale, City of Show Low, and City of Casa Grande assume no liability.
What about the heat? Since we are an outdoor education program we will be outside during all temperatures and weather conditions. Children should be dressed appropriately for the weather, we always recommend layers. And they should always have water and a water bottle for each class. We will have additional jugs of water for refilling throughout the day. All locations will have a a pavilion or ramada. In addition we will have a pop up canopy for additional shade. We will also have spray bottles with water for misting, small handheld fans and some cooling towels that kids can borrow. Our daily schedule may vary as well during hotter days, for example we will do our hike earlier in the day when temperatures are lower. We have had no issues with the heat thus far.
What if it rains? Classes are held rain or shine. We will have a pavilion or canopy to provide shelter from the elements.
What about restrooms? There will be restrooms at all of our locations. We will always have extra toilet paper, baby wipes and hand sanitizer on hand for students.
How do I know if this program is right for my child? Participating Pathfinders, Trailblazers, Discoverers, Adventurers, Explorers and Navigators should have a love for the outdoors, be open to new experiences, be active and be willing to participate in all daily activities (nature journaling, hands on learning activities, citizen scientist projects, arts/crafts and exploratory play). Teen Naturalists should have a desire to dive deeper into learning about and caring for the natural world. They will accomplish this through fieldwork, volunteering and stewardship projects.
What if my child misses a class? We understand absences are bound to happen. ECO classes do not necessarily build upon one another so missing a class will not put your child behind or at a disadvantage. We will do our best to keep all children up to date, by posting updates about what we did in class in a wrap-up document that is posted on the ECO Google Classroom (open only to currently enrolled families). When applicable we will provide parents with any resources the children may have missed. No refunds or make-up classes are offered.
What if there is a crisis event? In the event of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger ECO may need to postpone a class. Depending on the circumstances we may still offer class, but with some modifications. However we understand families need to make choices that are best for their family and we respect your personal decision to not attend class if you choose. In either of these cases we will offer make up class options, make class materials available on Google Classroom and make sure students receive any hard copy resources and materials. Because of how we operate our small business (example: pay teachers in advance, purchase curriculum and supplies in advance, etc.) no refunds will be issued.
After I register my child what happens? After you complete your registration form, agree to the policies and waiver and submit your payment we will review your registration. Please allow up to 48 hrs. After we review and accept your registration and confirm payment has been sent we will send you a confirmation email with a link to join our secret Google Classroom, our contact information, a class schedule and other important information. If you are paying with ESA we will email you an invoice. About 3-5 days before each class we send a reminder email with further details about preparing for each class.
What is the Google Classroom? All parents with currently enrolled children will need to join our secret Google Classroom. Here we will share updates about what your children are learning and photos. It is also a good place to ask any questions and communicate with other parents. This program is free and also has a phone app.
What about lunch? You will be required to have your child bring a packed lunch to class each day with their name on it that will NOT include any nut products. We will eat lunch from 12:00 pm - 12:30 pm as a group. Children should also bring a snack if they need one. Our Show Low program will not have a lunch break since the class starts at noon, student's should bring snack to eat during their long nature play break.
What do children need to do, to be prepared for each class? Children MUST be prepared each week for class with the following:
**If we are expecting to have a wet day we will be sure to alert parents in advance so children can come prepared with extra clothing, water shoes, etc.
Is there any mandatory homework? There may be times that students will need to complete homework assignments. For example we may ask students to conduct research for an activity or project we are working on in class, since this is something that can be difficult for us to complete in the field without internet access. Or we may ask that students watch a video before class, or gather items to bring to class. Our goal is to supplement your child's education, not overtake it, so homework will be kept to a minimum. Homework for the month will not exceed 1-2 hrs and will be posted in our Google Classroom. We have several amazing sponsors that have donated resources, like workbooks, to our ECO program this year. We may not be able to complete all the various resources in class, so your child may come home with these items and will be encouraged to work on them at home, however this is not required. We are also book lovers and literacy advocates so we often send home students with books to add to their home library.
Will photos be taken of my child? We want parents to be able to see what their children did at class each day so we will be taking photos and posting them onto the Google Classroom each week. We also like to show our social media followers, supporters and sponsors what we are doing at ECO so there is a chance photos could be posted on our social media outlets. When you register your child there is a question on the form that you will need to answer either giving or denying us permission to share your child's photo. We will blur their face out or not share their photo at all if you deny permission. We will never share children's names on social media.
My child has an allergy and/or medical, learning, behavior condition will that be an issue? We are an inclusive program and all children are welcome. We comply to ADA standards and welcome everyone and will accommodate anyway we can. Kathy has worked with children that have autism, dwarfism, down syndrome, dyslexia, dyscalculia, food allergies, Asperger's, ADD, anxiety and more. There is a spot on the registration form where you can list out any conditions we should be aware of. Kathy's own children deal with dyslexia, anxiety, OCD and ADD. And Kathy suffers from several medical conditions (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Posterior Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, Adrenal Insufficiency, OCD and dyslexia). If you have concerns about your child's needs before registering please reach out to Kathy. We will try to make any special accommodations necessary.
Our family's religion or religious views prevents them from participating in certain things and/or we may have a differing view on certain topics will this be an issue? We welcome all nationalities, ethnicities, races, genders, religions, beliefs and walks of faith. Kathy has taught children from just about every religion, race and ethnicity. Teachers will make every attempt to refrain from mentioning any religion and/or religious beliefs in class. With that being said this is a science heavy program and evolution may come up in some discussions. Generally when Kathy teaches she will mention that evolution is a theory and may differ from from others views/beliefs and that she is in no way discounting anyone's personal views/beliefs. Teaching evolution is not our focus and it is something that may just come up casually in some discussions.
In addition we strongly feel that the Native cultures should be discussed and included in our program's curriculum, especially here in Arizona, where we are lucky enough to still have so much of the past preserved for future generations. Today, Arizona is the proud home to 22 sovereign American Indian communities that serve as the foundational recipe to Arizona’s unique spiritual, cultural, and economic richness. Many of the topics we will be focusing on in the ECO program tie into Native culture (like the canal systems which we learned from and still rely on today) and there is so much we can learn about the natural world from those who lived off the land, long before we were here. As you can see we even included the Native cultures on our new Arizona logo.
And lastly due to the many varying views on holidays, holiday celebrations will be refrained from being celebrated at ECO.
What about politics, is that something that gets brought up in class? We know politics can be a touchy subject, just like religion, so we try to avoid any politic debates. However, there are times it could come up in discussions: like when discussing water rights, conservation, land management, agricultural growth, climate change etc. Again no personal views will be imposed and we will encourage children to make up their own mind on the subject, discuss it with their parents or research it further.
What types of curriculum are used for planning lessons? We try our make our programs as experiential as possible. We use combination of teacher led and student led learning approaches. Some of the philosophies and approaches we incorporate into our programs include Reggio, Waldorf, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, Nature Based (Forest School). Some of the curriculums we frequently utilize are Project Wild, Growing Wild, Project Wet, Project Learning Tree, Green Teacher, Flying Wild, AZGFD Focus Wild, Aquatic Wild, Good and Beautiful, Coyote's Guide, Nature Scope Guides, Young Naturalists.
Do the ECO lessons follow state standards? We do provide a syllabus for each semester which includes AZ State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and NAEE Guidelines. We also include vocabulary, skills, and subjects that will be covered each semester.
Are family members such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc allowed to attend classes? Yes, we believe that including extended family in your homeschool journey is important and welcome them at class.
Parent Involvement Questions:
What is required of parents? It is the parents responsibility to make sure their children are dropped off and picked up on time for class. It is also the parents responsibility to make sure their children are prepared for class each day. As indicated, several questions above, children may be given mandatory and/or optional homework assignments. We ask that parents provide their children with the assistance needed to complete these assignments. At home assignments will not exceed 2 hrs for the month. Parents should also make sure they have gone over behavior expectations with their children.
May parents volunteer? We may have opportunities throughout the year where we will need parent volunteers. We will post about these on the Google Classroom.
ECO Leader Related Questions:
Where can I learn more about the Leaders? Please visit our ECO Leaders page.
What is the student to Leader ratio? There will be 15 openings in the Pathfinders, Trailblazers, Discoverers, Adventurers, Explorers, and Navigators program. And 7 openings in the Teen Naturalists program. There will be 2 ECO Leaders (1 teacher and 1 aid) for the Pathfinders, Trailiblazers, Discoverers, Adventurers, Explorers and Navigators program. There will be 1 ECO Leader for the Teen Naturalist program
Are ECO instructors first aid certified and CPR certified? All ECO Leaders are CPR and first aid certified through 2023.
I am interested in being an ECO Teacher and/or Aide or starting a chapter, how can I learn more about those opportunities? We have hired all of the help we need for the 2022-2023 school year, but we may have openings in the future. We are always looking to start new chapters in Arizona. Please complete this interest form and we will be in touch.
If you have additional questions please email us.