Bright Ideas

Natural Start COVID-19 Forums

Natural Start Staff


Hundreds of nature-based education professionals have joined forums organized by the Natural Start Alliance over the last month. We've listened to administrators, owners, educators, and staff to find out what concerns the field is facing right now and discussed ideas for what our field needs to remain strong. 

For as long as it's needed, we'll continue provide opportunities for nature-based professionals to connect, discuss concerns, share ideas, and figure out how we can move forward, together. 


Read a summary of what we learned from these forums


Previous Forums: 


COVID-19 Forum: Planning for Reopening 

As programs are either planning for reopening this summer or contemplating procedures for a reopening later, this is a forum for programs to discuss how plans are developing. To begin the forum, we'll hear from two nature-based preschool directors, Amanda McMickle of the Will Smith Zoo School in San Antonio, Texas, which reopened in mid-May, and Andrea Sambrook of Annette's Preschool in Hinesburg, Vermont, which has remained open to serve the children of essential workers throughout the pandemic.

The remainder of the time will be dedicated to questions and small group discussions. 
You can upload resources and reopening documents to this public Google Folder. Anyone can access and contribute resources to this folder and it is not regularly monitored by Natural Start staff.


COVID-19 Forum: Distance Learning

This is a forum for discussing approaches to online or other forms of distance learning with young children, something many nature-based educators are experimenting with for the first time. 
Questions to consider:
  • What platforms and approaches are you using?
  • Are you offering offline resources?
  • Are your distance programs intended for your families, members, etc., or are they available to anyone? 
  • Are you charging for online programs, or are they free?
  • How are you managing privacy concerns?
  • What's working well?
  • What's not working? 


COVID-19 Forum: Financial Considerations

This is a forum for discussing financial concerns and planning during a time of uncertainty. 
Questions to consider:
  • Are you still collecting tuition, are parents donating, have you had to refund tuition?  
  • Are teachers still being paid or have you been forced to move to furloughs, layoffs, etc.?
  • Are you trying to access SBA loans, or other relief programs?
  • Are you planning summer programming?
  • Are you enrolling for fall? 
  • Have you had successes that others could learn from?


COVID-19 Forum: Summer Programming

This is a forum for discussing summer programming: planning in a time of uncertainty, if and how to operate programs safely in-person, and what to do if in-person programming is not an option. 
Questions to consider:
  • Are you moving ahead with in-person summer programming?
  • Are you making changes? If so, what changes?
  • Are you planning to offer summer programs online?
  • If you don't offer summer programs, what are the financial implications?



Natural Start COVID-19 Forum: Administrators and Owners

This is a forum for the Natural Start community, focused especially on owners and administrators of nature-based programs, to come together to discuss operations, concerns, and more during the pandemic. 

Natural Start COVID-19 Forum: Teachers and Staff

This is a forum for the Natural Start community, focused especially on teachers in nature-based programs, to come together to discuss operations, concerns, and more during the pandemic.