Wow, has the Luna Hill Wild School been such an amazing adventure for our entire family! We have had the privilege of teaching & inspiring so many amazing children over the years here & we are so grateful for the opportunity!
If you haven’t heard the news, we are closing up shop here at Luna Hill Farm & heading out on the road with our kids to see where the wind takes us, eager to spend some dedicated time together, foraging & meeting new friends across the country, while writing a book, with hopes of finding a new place to call home. Amanda Jo shared what factors steered us in this direction & a behind the scenes look at what creating community in Plymouth Indiana has been like for our family over at our blog, on this post. So, check it out if you’d like to hear more:)
Thank you sincerely to all the families who have made Luna Hill Farm so magical. Sharing this special space with children, helping to ‘Nurture Wonder with Nature’, has been so near & dear to our hearts & we leave here knowing that we have helped to plant so many seeds…..may your little ones go out into this big world & spread their love of nature with others as well!
With Love, The Boener Family
What The Luna Hill Wild School is all about:
To Nurture Wonder, With Nature.
Lilly, Henry, Iris, & Violet have reminded John & Amanda Jo a few simple, but poignant facts about childhood.
–Less is more, when it comes to stuff. Providing environments that do not overwhelm their developing systems establishes a platform for growth in a safe space that can be utilized by all children.
–Listening is an important(and rare!) gift. To acknowledge a child is one of the greatest gifts of love an adult can give. We treat children with respect & value their unique voice & perspective.
–Curiosity is a valuable tool that transforms work into play. When given environments that encourage and enable their curiosities to be explored, it can put a child’s education into their own hands, in a way that is empowering & supports an outlook of life-long learning.
–Diversity is beautiful. Providing a learning space that includes children from diverse backgrounds, capabilities, & ages gives all parties involved a rich foundation, ripe for growth in ways a less diverse setting simply cannot establish.
–Children can’t help but learn, and we adults have gotten into the habit of interrupting that process. We value & support child-led learning.
While listening to their children has shown & reminded them, how humans learn best, their mighty message holds its own. Check out some of these great resources for research & shared perspectives into this outlook:
–Learning outside for just one lesson a week boosts learning and behaviour, say researchers
–Schools Are Killing Curiosity
–Children That Play Outside In All Weather Grow Up Resilient
–How Learning Science Is Catching Up To Mr. Rogers
–A Mental Health Mantra for Parents and Kids
–Challenging Behaviors: Why We Shouldn’t Expect Kids to Self-Regulate Too Soon
–MRIs show screen time linked to lower brain development in preschoolers
What to Bring:
–Water We ask that every child always bring Water & if it’s in a reusable container, that’s even better! 🙂
–A snack is also optional, but highly recommended. We will have a ‘break’ time in the middle of our time together, where the kids are invited to snack & sit together. Every body works best when it is not hungry!
–A backpack or some sort of bag is optional, but usually works best for the kids to fit their belongings into, then into their cubby. Nothing fancy is needed!
-A spare change of clothes. This is also optional & depends on the class, but don’t expect your child to leave the farm shiny & spotless! We encourage the kids to connect with nature & explore their curiosities, so as long as it’s safe & not interrupting(if we’re in the middle of work together), the more dirt, mud, & plant matter they play with, the better! We also have an outdoor shower that can be used for cleaning off, found next to the Herb Spiral.
Where to Park:
Parking is anywhere(neatly) in the grass, between the Barn & the Workshop. Kids & caregivers will enter through the breezeway, where they can place their belongings into a cubby. The kids can then say their goodbyes and head out to the ‘playground’ to play with the others, while we wait for all the kids to arrive, before heading to our courses starting location. If it is raining, all courses will start in the Workshop.
The Structure of Our Courses:
Here is an example, showing the general structure to all courses offered at the Luna Hill Wild School.
9:30-9:40 ARRIVAL, gather, play at playground
9:40-9:45 head to course location, begin CIRCLE ROUND
During Circle Round, the teacher first gives a layout of the plans for our time together. This is great for all, but especially children who feel comforted understanding what to expect from our time together. We then take turns, around the circle, sharing what we have noticed in nature lately. No one is forced to share and children are reminded to give the speaker our attention, with emphasis on quieting our minds while we just listen to one another. This practice:
-promotes & places value on listening skills
-encourages communication skill building in a small, safe group setting
-draws attention to and provides tools to practice mindfulness
-opportunities to acknowledge & accept other perspectives
10:00 begin PROJECT for todays course
11:00-11:15 break for SNACKS
Another opportunity for community building, or quiet alone time, with their snacks. While allergies restrictions are upheld & families are definitely welcome to pack whatever they desired, children are allowed to only share fruit or veggies with other Wildschoolers. This cuts back on any children sharing foods with friends that their family does not encourage & promotes healthy snacks at the same time!
11:15-12:00 FREE PLAY
The name eludes to this, but children are free and encouraged to seek out activities that they desire. What does free play look like around here? Sometimes it is weeding or snacking in the garden, building mud pies, cities, & general water play. It can be further working on the project a child started during structured time, pretend play with friends, fort building, searching for bugs, sitting in the grass and chatting with a friend….the list goes on and on. Three things are true during this time; 1)Children are always in the fenced in backyard or Forest Garden area. 2) The teachers will uphold the safety of the children. 3) The teachers will practice presence over praise with the children-encouraging curiosity in whatever form it may arise. Here is a great piece, by research professor at Boston College, Peter Gray, PhD., giving context to the importance of uninterrupted and child-led learning. And here is a piece explaining the findings of recent researches on the importance in valuing, allowing, & supporting curiosity in a child’s education. In all courses, we uphold equal parts structured play, to free play.
Our Commitment to Diversity:
Just as Mother Nature has reminded us over & over that diversity is key to a thriving ecosystem in our Forest Garden, we’re mindful that diversity in our children’s lives will provide opportunities that a childhood rooted in comfortable, sterile soil could not. When we tell folks that we are welcoming to all walks of life with open arms, we wholeheartedly mean this. We understand that all humans are inextricably connected & that what makes us different, can be opportunities for connection, acknowledgement, & growth. Luna Hill Farm is not affiliated with any church or faith. We are committed to offering a secular experience at the Luna Hill Wild School, that is open to all.
A note on Allergies & Toys:
We have multiple children who attend that are allergic to Latex, ranging from mild to severe. To be mindful of these children’s safety and enjoyment, we ask that you do not bring balloons, latex erasers(we provide latex-free erases for courses in which they are needed), and it is best to leave most toys at home, too. Bringing tools such as magnifying glasses, binoculars, or the like are just fine to pack in the bag, but most toys do not find a great place to fit in here at the farm. More times then not, they usually serve as distractions from the real play at hand and we would appreciate your cooperation in this.
We diligently go over the forms before a child arrives, so if they are allergic to certain foods we will know & have had no problems accommodating this, but if your child has a severe allergy & would like to attend, please reach out to us personally. This way we can be sure that we are able to provide a safe environment for you child. Thank you!
Further Information On Our Educational Philosophy:
As we have mentioned, we have come to remember that children can’t help but learn. They are experts at play, professionals at turning ‘nothing’ into something, each so creative in their own way, clever, and inquisitive- if only we can lean in, get down, and truly listen. If we slow our busy agendas and hurried inner voices and strive for presence, over praise with them & if we can leave behind our egos and reach for compassion over competition as an example for them, we can create an environment that fosters connection. We understand that beautiful sense of wonder in children should be encouraged and embraced. We strive to create an environment that gives our children the space and confidence to explore what mother nature has to teach them, to test their arising theories, celebrate in their failures and accomplishments, and come to find their own sense of value in community, through playing with others. We feel so moved by our passion for guiding children in this way, that we have chosen to share what we have to offer with others.
We see ourselves as guides in this journey and feel nature to be our partner in this endeavor. Helping find answers to the questions, passing down what knowledge we have, and bringing forth connections with others who can share their wisdom. There is so much power in learning from others and we both place great value and appreciation to the mentors in our childrens’ lives. The process of learning from each other has an endless list of useful life skills; patience, communication, social understandings, sense of worth and gratitude, just to name a few.
Amanda Jo’s video for National Geographic
Watch this video to get a peek into some of what we do out here and why we do it the way we do. (This film was created for her Certified Educators Course.)
See us on local TV:
Click HERE to see The Luna Hill Wild School feature in WNIT’s Education Counts series!
At Luna Hill Farm, we have come to remember that children can’t help but learn & we aim to kindle their fires with acknowledgment, acceptance, knowledge, & that same curious spirit mirrored back, from their teachers.
AJ & John