Answers to some commonly asked questions.
What time is your school day? Do you have school year round?
Our school day runs begins with drop-off between 8:50-9:05 and ends with pick-up at 3:35. We run a normal school year from late August through late May. We do not offer part-time programming at this time. Our sister organization, Rising Appalachia, offers summer camps.
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.
Is aftercare available?
Our sister organization, Rising Appalachia, offers some part-time afterschool programming onsite, but we do not offer daily aftercare. Please see their website for up-to-date program listings.
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.
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
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?
How do documentation, assessment, and testing work at your school?
Children of school age at Solid Ground notify 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 a variety of assessment tools 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. We do not use standard report cards or grades.
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.