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February 2023 News

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Redemptive Education FAQ

By Amy E. Imbody
President, Center for Redemptive Education
What is Boots & Roots?

Boots & Roots is a primarily outdoor education program for children ages 4-6. Neither a preschool nor a co-op, it is a robust support program for home schooling families offered by the Center for Redemptive Education (CRE,, an educational non-profit featuring an approach that is Biblical, Relational, Integral and Experiential.

Play-based? Yes! Discovery based? Yes! Rich in academic content? Yes! Literacy, numeracy, science, the arts, bible – all of these are present in B & R, but are not delivered “traditionally” or “formally.” Delight-driven? Absolutely.

We embrace the “emergent curriculum” that our children so naturally pursue: Where do the worms go? Who is making that cooing sound? What is this sparkly rock?

Redemptive Educators invite children into joyful exploration of God’s word and His world, using a unique curriculum developed by the Center for Redemptive Education that honors and celebrates young image-bearers.

Class size averages eight students.

Read More FAQ's:
  • What is the Scent of Water Learning Community?

  • How does Boots & Roots differ from K/1st in Scent of Water?

  • What qualities does a child need to demonstrate in order to participate in either Boots & Roots or Scent of Water?

  • What do students study?

  • Math? Writing? Grammar?

  • How can I, as a home schooling parent, partner with teachers in my child’s learning?

  • How are classes organized?

  • What does my child need to wear?

  • What will my child DO?

  • What’s this about a musical?

  • What about dangerous weather?

  • Is Redemptive Education affiliated with a particular religion or denomination?

  • How does that work out practically?

  • Are parents required to volunteer?

FAQ page

President's Message
Scent of Water

Scent of Water

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Parents Share Experiences

Learning about the Creator and creation

We love Scent of Water! I am SO thankful my daughter gets to learn about the Creator in His creation. I love that she is given the opportunity to explore, play, read good, rich books, sing, and consider God's world and her role in it! I appreciate the Unit Studies, the community of classmates, teachers, and parents, and the foundation of a biblical worldview.

--Emily Basham

Learning is happening naturally

For the first time in his life, my child is enjoying school, especially all the outdoor time. Learning appears to be happening naturally for him. I think he is learning the most about Christianity/Bible memorization. He has also learned a lot of geography so far. My son loves the creek and woods. I talk about the Center for Redemptive Education all the time to friends!

--Lauren Russo

Seeing growth in phonic and letter skills

In the seven weeks that my son has been attending boots and roots I have seen already a lot of growth in his phonic/letter skills, memorization of songs and Bible verses, throwing/catching skills, and overall confidence. I am amazed at all of the songs and verses he has memorized. I think it is great the content that he is encouraged to memorize at Boots and Roots. I like all the open spaces on the campus.

--Candace Steele

Read more parent testimonials

Boots & Roots

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Weekly report by Janine Buser

This week we began studying how humans sleep and comparing our habits to the plethora of animal sleeping habits we've already learned. The trio of lessons fully embodied the four distinctives of a Redemptive Education: biblical, relational, integral, and experiential as we added a Bible verse, studied classical art, made beds for our stuffed critters, and listened to lullabies while snuggling ourselves among lavender- and rose-scented fallen leaves.

Tuesday began with adding a second sleep-focused Bible verse, Psalm 127:2b, "God provides for those He loves even while they sleep."  Your littles sweetly pondered how Our Lord cares for us even while we sleep.  They understand that He always protects us and designed our bodies to keep breathing and pumping blood so that we can rest.  That Bible verse prompted a second reading of God Knows Me, based on Psalm 139.

Bedtime! provided a review of sleep habits across cultures and eras, followed by an intriguing art study comparing Vincent Van Gogh's Bedroom at Arles with Andrew Wyeth's Master Bedroom.  There were the expected comparisons of use of color and content but I was delighted by their deeper observations when they were prompted with "Which bedroom would you want to sleep in?"  One lad, recalling Psalm 4:8, noted that he preferred Van Gogh's because the corner placement of the bed would make him feel safer.

Now is not too soon to start taking advantage of DC's free museums, especially with the lighter winter crowds.  Go for a short time, take along a sketch pad and colored pencils, and let them enjoy sitting in a gallery interpreting what they see.  Join them for maximum impact!  While you're there, consider letting them pick out some postcards or prints of favorite works of art.  We used to have a few easy-to-replace picture frames near the children's bedrooms and each week they'd swap out the prints and review the titles, artists' names, and make a few observations.  While it's amazing how quickly these artworks will become embedded in their memory, you may also have to endure visitors' questions of why Napoleon's portrait is outside the bunk room!
We closed Tuesday with our favorite bucket of hammers, golf tees and safety gear as we practiced eye-hand coordination in the woods, then nestled under some pine boughs to review our day.

Wednesday's beautiful sunshine was the backdrop for learning from How Do You Go to Sleep? and the Practical Tips pages of The Magic of Sleep.  We played charades to act out some of our own bedtime routines and I learned that there's a new-fangled invention that I wish was around when my children were young - the green/red alarm clock, "When it's red, I stay in bed."  Alas, for those of you who have kiddos who still crawl into your bed, I can assure you that they do one day go off to college - enjoy the snuggles!  We enjoyed reading from the practical tips list:  Time in nature? Check.  Exposure to sunshine? Check.  We passed around bottles of essential oil for some of the sleep-enhancing recommended scents, sprinkled some on the leaves, then listened to Brahms' Lullaby while laying down among the leaves.  No, they did not nap, but there were plenty of sleepover giggles!

That unseasonably warm day was a perfect opportunity to head to the creek.  A bucket of water toys provided an opportunity to strengthen executive function skills.  We first took inventory and made a checklist to ensure that we came out of the creek with everything.  There's a photo of our simple list that can be a prompt for their next suitcase-packing opportunity.  (Here's another opportunity to learn from the Buser experience - check behind to ensure that their definition of "dress shirt" is yours.) As we counted each object, I smiled as they initiated observations of which items would have to be shared.  As they used each item, I smiled as they found creative interpretations:  a pipette looks like a dental tool and water scoops allow one to become a "sand monster."  Parents of the child who went home with a pocket of rocks, I know that you are not surprised at your kiddo's thrill at using those water scoops to hunt for treasure!  A note on those water scoops - they are a perfect alternative tool to lock in scissor grip if your child is still learning.  

We also had a risk assessment lesson as we reviewed the reasons for our stick-play rules: sticks hit sticks, why a partner should have a similarly sized stick, and how to create a safety circle if playing alone.  No need for a classmate to be bonked on the head while you're fly fishing!

Jingle bells have helped us mark the syllables of Frère Jacques and today we introduced hand bells to our morning song.  We have a ways to go before a public concert but we started learning how to identify higher and lower pitches as we placed them in scale order.  

What joy to recognize an author name as we read Snug as a Bug!, written by our very own Amy Imbody!  This delightful book beautifully meshed together our last six weeks of lessons as a mom offers for her son to sleep like a variety of animals.  A second read provided a host of other learning opportunities:  Can we find the rhyming words?  How many sets of two are on a page?  Can we identify a rainbow of colors on another page?

At snack time, we practiced making good choices as we read What Should Danny Do? an interactive book with nine possible outcomes.  I'm happy to report that your children also have the "Good Choice Superpower," allowing Danny to have a delightful day.

After a round of Gaga ball for those wishing to enter the octagon of fast-paced action, we spent the last hour in the woods with multiple choices of activities.  Some chose to nature journal, some dug in the leaves with shovels, some explored with magnifying glasses and rulers, and a cadre of them were transfixed by a long length of narrow PVC pipe that could reach the creek below.  It was a ramp, it was a stirrer, it was an exploration stick, and for the last chap to take the turn, a giant straw with which to blow bubbles.

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Boots & Roots

Meet CRE teachers and staff

Meet teachers
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Laura Ryba served as a special education teacher and Administrator
in both the private and
public school sector....

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Kristen Tamulonis loves teaching phonics, reading books with her class, and giving students lots of opportunities to create and imagine...

Maggie Dean has a passion for developing things. Whether that's friendships, gardens, dreams, or students, she loves coming alongside...

Outdoor education benefits children


Painting by Scent of Water student Eva McKinley 

Studies finally confirm what children, parents and teachers have long known


Guest commentary by Jonathan Imbody

Note: The views expressed in this article may but do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Redemptive Education.

Researchers finally appear to be catching up to what children, parents and educators have known for eons: learning outdoors benefits children.

A recent article in the International Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education, for example, highlights the fact that "a substantial body of research indicates that an outdoor learning and play environment with diverse natural elements advances and enriches all of the domains relevant to the development, health, and wellbeing of young children."

Policymakers, however, often remain mired in the mediocrity of outdated, institutionalized approaches to education that do not match the natural design of children.

As the article's author, Allen Cooper of the National Wildlife Federation, points out, "Despite these findings, the outdoor learning environment goes virtually unmentioned in national and state level standards, guidelines, and regulations, and has been largely overlooked in the considerable efforts to enhance the quality of early childhood education."

The Center for Redemptive Education educates and advocates for educating children outdoors because as children experience the natural creation, they not only learn about our world but also about their Creator:

"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made…." --Romans 1:20, NASB

Any parent who has watched a child revel in the rain, scan the clouds for imaginary forms or examine the intricate design and transformation of a caterpillar-turned-butterfly can readily apprehend and appreciate this truth.

Any educator who has led children on a woodsy and fragrant path to adventure, or coached young horticulturists in the rudiments of gardening or witnessed the outdoor play of children who pretend and create their own games can readily apprehend and appreciate this truth.

For researchers and policymakers, however, apprehending and appreciating such truths often seems to take much longer.

Sometimes that's simply because experimenting, analyzing data and designing and replicating sound and reliable studies is a tedious process. Increasingly, however, the biases of researchers—including an anti-religious bias--seem to retard the recognition and admission of reality

Compounding this challenge, some policymakers remain beholden to forces who hold a vested interest in preserving ineffective indoor institutionalism. The result is the delay or prevention of proven, commonsense educational reforms.

Meanwhile, the children engaged in Redemptive Education programs remain free to explore, to learn, to imagine and to revel in the wonders of God's creation, and for that we are thankful.

Research - Commentary

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