Answers to some commonly asked questions.

Painting in our open art studio

How do I apply?

Our goal with enrollment is to attract families that appreciate and support our approach to education, value outdoor engagement, and are committed to joining our school community. In order to ensure a good fit for your family with our school, a first step in our application process is to attend one of our open houses or schedule a tour by emailing westonlombard@gmail.com. Please click here to learn more about our enrollment process.

Can parents and grandparents get involved at the school?

Yes, families can get involved in several ways. Parents can serve as regular or occasional volunteers in the classroom, help with volunteer tasks at home, visit the school to share special skills or knowledge, take part in the Family Council, or even join the Board of Directors.

How much is tuition? Is there a sliding scale?

Solid Ground School is entirely funded through tuition payments and fundraising. Our Board of Directors works hard to raise funds to offset operating costs in order to keep our tuition rates as low. We additionally offer our tuition fees on a sliding scale to make our program as accessible as possible. If you would like to help us be able to offer tuition assistance and scholarships, please consider donating.

To determine your annual or monthly tuition refer to the table below. We also offer a 5% discount from the listed annual rate if families pay the entire annual tuition upfront, as well as a 5% discount for any subsequent siblings.

Is there a sibling discount?

Yes, we offer a 5% discount for additional siblings.

Children working together to balance a giant see-saw

Do you offer scholarships?

At this time, we are not able to offer scholarships. Solid Ground School is entirely funded through tuition payments and fundraising. Our Board of Directors works hard to raise funds to offset operating costs in order to keep our tuition rates as low. We additionally offer our tuition fees on a sliding scale to make our program as accessible as possible. We are actively working to fund tuition assistance. If you are able to contribute to that effort, please read more here.

Is aftercare available?

Yes, we have an aftercare program for our students. Please inquire with Weston (weston@solidgroundschool.com) for more details.

Where is the school located?

Solid Ground School is located in the rolling hills of Millfield, Ohio on Solid Ground Farm. The school is about 10 minutes north of uptown Athens off of SR 550. To learn more about our grounds and facilities, please click here.

Is there busing?

We are not able to provide busing at this time. We encourage parents who live near one another to consider carpooling arrangements.

All-weather gear
Wet, muddy, happy children

What kind of clothing and gear will my child need?

Because we believe that children benefit from playing outdoors in dirt and mud and from working freely with art supplies, we ask that children come to school in clothing they can get dirty. We also ask that your child be able to move freely and easily in their clothes and require that they wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes that are suitable for varied terrain.

As a nature-based program, we believe that “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” Children will spend time outdoors in all weather--rain, snow, or sun, and proper gear is required for all children. On rainy days, your child will need waterproof boots, waterproof pants or overalls, and a waterproof jacket. In order to stay safe in cold weather, we require that children have fully waterproof boots, waterproof pants, a waterproof jacket, waterproof gloves, and a warm hat when the weather is 40 degrees F or below, even on dry days. We also ask that children wear wool, silk, or synthetic long underwear (not cotton), a mid-layer of wool or fleece, and wool socks in cold weather.

You are welcome and encouraged to store your children's outwear and an extra sweater and pair of socks at the school during the week, taking them home to wash as you feel necessary. In warm weather, we recommend that you send your child in light, breathable clothing with a sunhat. Proper clothing is absolutely essential to your child's well-being and comfort and to the success of a nature-based program. We are happy to provide guidance on finding all-weather gear.

How are calamity days determined?

Solid Ground School will follow the Athens City School District with regards to school weather closings.

How do children benefit from spending time outdoors in nature?

We believe that time in nature is essential for the human spirit and for developing a profound understanding of our interconnected world. Many of us have experienced firsthand the restorative and enlivening effects of spending time in nature. Children are incredibly perceptive and affected very keenly by their surroundings and as a result, experience many developmental, educational, and physical benefits from spending time in nature, such as:

    • improved academic achievement in reading, writing, math, science, and social studies
    • improved executive functioning and self-regulation
    • improved focus and attention and a reduction in ADHD symptoms
    • more creativity and problem-solving
    • increased engagement and enthusiasm for learning
    • fewer behavioral issues
    • improved performance on fine and gross motor skills assessments
    • improved sensory stimulation and sensory integration
    • more empathy
    • more independence
    • more resilience
    • healthier weight
    • healthier vision development
    • increased vitamin D levels
    • less stress and anxiety and improved mental health

Given the many documented benefits to time spent in nature and our evolutionary history of developing in the outdoors, a better question might be: at what cost do we keep our children inside?

Children working in a floorbook as part of a study on birds

How do documentation, assessment, and testing work at your school?

Children of school age at Solid Ground register as homeschoolers with SGS teachers listed as their tutors. We provide support to parents at every step of the homeschooling notification process, providing you with the needed forms and curricular documents and guidance on how to file them. Our teachers then work with children to create the necessary portfolios for subsequent homeschooling notifications and are qualified to evaluate them. We take a simple process and make it even easier for you.

In addition to compiling student portfolios, we use Reggio Emilia-inspired documentation processes and Claire Warden's talking and thinking floorbooks to document and track learning and growth. These on-going consultative processes actively include children in their learning, give them opportunities for reflection and growth, and are used by teachers to plan individualized educational experiences that support learning for the unique children in their classroom. This approach allows for a child-led inquiry approach that can still be tracked back to state educational standards.

Mixed age groups are good for everyone: Here, an older child is reading to younger children

Why mixed age groups?

There are many benefits to mixed age groups. First, children are unique human beings who develop unevenly and at different rates. In a mixed age group, children can often find peers who are both ahead of and behind them in different domains of development, regardless of their age. For children who are advanced in some skills or domains, they will benefit from being around older kids who are at their level or even further advanced. Meanwhile, kids who are behind in certain skills will benefit both from learning with other peers at their skill level and from the positive modeling other children can provide. Much like in a family or neighborhood environment, kids in mixed age groups can easily see and accept that there is a wide diversity of talent and ability, which can help bolster their sense of confidence and community.

You mentioned risk-taking. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Being able to take risks is a critical part of healthy human development. It takes courage to show up in our lives, and children develop their sense of confidence, competence, and resilience from taking and learning to manage risks when they're young. Whether it's a creative endeavor, a bold idea, asking someone on a date, or taking on a physical challenge, some of the best things in life are inherently risky. In order to develop the confidence and wisdom they need to take appropriate risks, children need practice.

At Solid Ground School, we support children in healthy risk-taking by encouraging them to experiment with new ideas and materials, teaching them to use real tools, letting them help build fires, and allowing them take on physical challenges they feel ready for. Teachers provide guidance by offering information as they're making decisions, helping them reflect on their choices, encouraging them to try new things, and helping them to discover that mistakes and failure are an expected part of the learning process. When children take on these challenges, they sometimes succeed and they sometimes fail, but with support, encouragement, and guidance, they come to discover that they are resilient. This process teaches them to assess risks and to weigh outcomes--and learn which risks are worth taking. In an age of increasing anxiety and fear, learning to manage risks helps children become confident, competent, and autonomous.