Switch to mobile website Switch to full website
Share Close

Farm School

Southlands Farm Outdoor School Q&A

Update Sept 7, 2020

We still have a few spots left in the school -- you can apply by completing this form: https://www.dropbox.com/t/O79LUmBpnc6KPPJe

If your question is not answered below, please email admin@southlandsfarm.ca

What is the Southlands Farm Outdoor School?

We are an independent program operating out of Southlands Heritage Farm at 6767 Balaclava St in Vancouver’s Kerrisdale neighbourhood. We believe in encouraging self-sufficiency and independence in children, and value a hands-on educational environment where children are encouraged to explore their own interests with support, structure and guidance provided by a very small teacher/student ratio.

The farm is a 2.5-Acre property with goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, honey bees, and many horses & ponies. We also operate a weekly farmers market where we sell our own fruits and vegetables. During after-school hours, we offer on-site horseback riding lessons geared to beginners. On weekends we host pony rides and birthday parties, and are open to the public to visit by donation.

Is this a full-time program?

Yes. The program will run 4 days per week, Monday through Thursday, from 9am to 3pm. School will start on September 16th, and follow the same break schedule as Vancouver public schools.

Can my child attend part-time?

If your child does not wish to attend all 4 days per week, or wishes to take days off school, we have no problem with that. If you will be away for an extended period of time or missing a lot of school, there will be the option to video-conference with your child’s instructor for 1 hour or two 30-minute sessions per week. We are a small school and very flexible and eager to accommodate.

Do I have to enroll with Island Discovery?

The simplest way for your child to attend our program and still comply with Ministry of Education requirements is by allowing us to transfer your child’s school registration from their current/previous program to Island Discovery DL. This registration also allows us to provide Ministry-certified teachers to your children. We will take care of the paperwork and transfer of registration – you only need to enroll directly with us.

What is the cost?

The cost is $10,800 +GST yer year, payable as $1,080 + GST per month from September through June. We will offer a 10% discount for subsequent children from the same family. There is no discount for attending fewer than 4 days per week or for missed school.

Can I leave half way through the year?

We are a full-year program, and in joining you are committing to stay with us for the entire school year. We will, however, always take into account extenuating circumstances.

Will there be homework given to kids?

No homework will be assigned, but children may take projects home if they wish.

How many students will you accept?

We will have a maximum of 28 children in the program. From there we will split into 3 or 4 smaller groups, which may change over time according to interests and abilities.

What age students will you accept?

Our program is for grades K-7. So children who are aged 5 to 12 as of December 31, 2020. Currently all of our registered students are in grade K through 4.

We are not offering a preschool program at this time.

What will be the student/teacher ratio?

We will have one educator per 7 children. So for the group of 28 children, we will have 4 instructors at any given time. This will break down into 2 full-time educators (4 days per week), 2 half-time ministry-certified instructors (4 days per week total), and various part-time members of our staff brought in to assist with specialized topics. In other words, each child will spend a total of 1 day per week with a ministry instructor, and 3 days per week working on other subjects/interests.

What will be on the curriculum?

Each child will spend one full day (or two half-days) per week with a board-certified teacher learning Ministry-certified topics. The other 3 days per week will be spent on other activities according to the interests of the children and their parents. Topics may include:

· Equestrian activities

· Urban farming/gardening

· Photography/videography

· Caring for Animals

· Outdoor Adventure (archery, ropes courses, rock climbing, etc)

· Arts/Crafts

· Cooking

· Native/wild plants & animals

· Other activities or experiences as determined by the interests of the group. No activity is impossible and all interests will be encouraged.

Do you offer French Immersion?

Most of our full-time instructors are French-bilingual and will be teaching those who are interested in French.

Does this meet Ministry requirements for grades/curriculum?

Yes. We will operate in compliance with all regular school curriculum requirements for grade/age level. Report Cards will be submitted to the Ministry, and we anticipate no problems with switching back to public school in future, if you wanted. All of our students will be registered with the Island Discovery DL group as they are the link that allows our new program to be Ministry certified.

Will there be extra fees on top of the monthly tuition?

Most things will be included. There may be occasional activities or projects that the children want to undertake that will involve an extra cost, such as field-trip expenses or expensive projects, but these will be made clear to parents in advance of any such expense and participation will be optional.

What supplies will I need to provide for my child?

You will need to send your child each day with weather-appropriate clothing and we recommend a change of clothes be left at the farm. Certain projects may require special equipment (ie. If your child wants to participate in equestrian activities, they will need a riding or bike helmet and hard-soled boots with a heel).

Do you offer Special Education?

We are not set up to support any type of Special Education at this time.

What level of parent participation is expected?

We will definitely be reaching out to parents to tap into any unique skills or talents you could offer to teach the children in an organized setting. But due to the pandemic, we are discouraging parents from staying on the farm with your children.

Will Southlands Farm still be offering the 1-day Sunday/Friday “Kids on the Farm” and “Kids Farm Club” programs?

These programs are being cancelled for now. Our hope is to be able to offer them again later in the fall or perhaps in the spring, but for now we are putting all of our resources into this full-time program.

What COVID-19 protocols are in place?

Part of the reason we are going to be doing a full-time program rather than a part-time program is we want to create our own bubble, rather than bringing children together in our group that are ALSO attending another school. We are also a very small school, with only 28 children total. Almost all activities will be taking place outside, or in well-ventilated covered areas such as shelters, the deck on the farm, or in our hayloft (which is covered and warm, but not enclosed). We will encourage frequent handwashing and some physical distancing, but the focus will be on small group outdoor activities to prevent the spread of viruses. Masks will not be required except for individual projects or trips that may specifically require them. We have one indoor space at the farm and are having a Heat Recovery Ventilator installed that will allow a full air-exchange every 15 minutes.

Will the farm be open to the public during school hours?

While the farm will not be specifically closed to other activities and events during school hours, most of our other events and visitors happen on weekends and will not conflict with the school program at all. In addition, we will attempt to schedule occasional weekday events on days where the children are on a field trip.

What about transportation for field trips?

To limit the amount of time spent in close proximity to each other during the pandemic, we will not be using public transportation or school buses. The Farm is ideally located close to many city parks, playgrounds, playing fields, the Fraser River trails, Pacific Spirit Park, Southlands Riding Club, and McCleery Golf Course. Most trips will be within walking distance of the Farm, and any longer field trips will be coordinated with parents.

What if schools are shut down again because of COVID-19?

We will operate in compliance with all Municipal, Provincial and Federal laws & orders. If we are required to shut down we will NOT collect school fees during the time we are shut down. We will still be able to offer, at no charge, individual video-learning 1 day per week with your child's regular teacher.

Can you help us get back into our child’s current school after the pandemic?

Through the Distributed Learning program, we can provide a letter of support, ministry-compliant report cards, and evidence that your child meets the current grade level for their age. But if your desire is to return to another program then you will need to discuss your plans with your current/old program.

Ideally, though, we are looking for people who are a good fit for our type of program and who won’t want to go back to a regular program after the pandemic is over. Opening a full-time outdoor school at the farm has been something we have been considering and planning for years, and is something we’re passionate about. We are here for the long-term.