After School Program
We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.

— Aldo Leopold


IMPORTANT NOTE: Many people are experiencing even more difficulty than usual in registering for the After-School Program. As a work-around, we're asking all families to open a new account for their child, making sure that all information--especially the child's school--is current. This should address the problem.

Fall 2019 ASP Session
Dates: Tuesday, Sept 3 to Friday, December 20
Hours: Dismissal to 5:30 p.m.
No ASP during the week of Nov 25-29

Spring 2020 ASP Session
Dates: Tuesday, Jan 21 to Friday, May 22
Hours: Dismissal to 5:30 p.m.
No ASP during Spring Break, March 16-20

After-School Program Tuition/Cost Information

2019/2020 Planned School Pick-Ups (subject to change)
Monday: Penn, Wickham, Mann, Lincoln, Willowwind, Longfellow
Tuesday: Lemme, Mann, Lincoln, Longfellow, Willowwind, New Hoover
Wednesday: Borlaug, Horn, Wickham, Penn, Lincoln, Mann
Thursday: Mann, Lincoln, Lucas, Willowwind, Longfellow, Lemme, Regina, New Hoover
Friday: Mann, Lincoln, Willowwind, Longfellow, Regina, New Hoover

Register your child in the After-School Program

It's always a puzzle to craft the Taproot ASP pick-up schedule. Several schools are not officially listed above--Shimek, Weber, Alexander, Wood, Twain, Hoover, Montessori, and others.

If your child's school is not listed on the day you'd like to participate, please contact us. It is possible to deliver your child to us at one of the other schools or at the day's destination, at a reduced tuition cost. Depending on sign-ups, it is also sometimes possible to add a school to a day's pick-up schedule.

The Taproot After School Nature Enrichment Program is designed to give children time outside in natural settings around Iowa City.  We feel that it is crucial for kids to get quality unstructured play time outside every day. The Taproot After School program provides this opportunity to children.  Each day’s adventures begin when the Taproot Leaders pick children up from school at dismissal time in one of the Taproot Vans and take them to parks, ponds, woodlands, prairies, and marshes and other natural settings in the Iowa City area. Parents can also deliver their child to the Taproot destination of the day, if we cannot pick up from that particular school.  The day ends at 5:30 p.m. Parents pick up their children at the Taproot pick-up spot, usually Happy Hollow Park in Iowa City. Occasionally we designate a second pickup spot for a day if we have a lot of kids from a different area. 

We have enjoyed many wonderful activities in our after school program.  Some of the favorites include: exploring creeks, fishing, climbing trees, archery, animal tracking and track casting, exploring prairies and collecting seeds, picking berries and other wild edibles, tapping maple trees, sledding and building with snow, building shelters, making art, making campfires, hunting for mushrooms, arrowheads, bones, and antlers,  gardening, disecting owl pellets, and lots of other stuff. We also play a LOT of active games--Capture the Flag, Diaperball, Friends of the Wolf, Everybody-It Tag, and general chase games, on the ground, in the water, and on top of big hay bales.

We spend some time discussing native species, and teaching children how to identify native trees, plants, and birds. We talk about the ecological threat of invasive species to natural diversity and overall ecological health. The principles of sustainability permeate our conversations, including leave-no-trace practices, resource conservation, and local and organic farming.

HOWEVER, our main focus at this age is on helping your children fall deeply in love with the Earth, and the way to do that is through fun, play, and full immersion, and so that's where most of our effort and attention are directed.

The outdoor activities and destinations are largely determined by the weather.  To this end, we encourage all of our participants to learn to follow the weather and plan accordingly. We also recommend, on days when wet or cold weather is likely, that you pack appropriate, and in some cases, extra clothing for your child. We try to be outside in all but the most extreme weather conditions. We also believe that it is important that kids have positive experiences with nature, and sometimes we decide that though we could be outside as a group, it might be better to be inside on a given day.  On these days we have gone to the Natural History Museum, the Johnson County Historical Society Museum, the Office of the State Archaeologist, the Water Treatment Facility, among other indoor locations.

Each afternoon is a pragmatic and effective mix of careful planning and flexible openness to alternative directions and spontaneous lessons. That is to say, every day the leaders have a plan for the afternoon. They choose where to go and what the kids will do there. However, they are constantly attuned to the moods and emotions of the children and on the lookout for the spontaneous, unplannable, and the often extremely valuable lessons that nature presents. The Taproot Leaders are all ardent admirers and students of nature, and are prepared to provide the scaffolding and information necessary to take advantage of these teachable moments.

We believe that these spontaneous, often child-discovered lessons are very powerful learning opportunities. When a child begins to tune into her surroundings and notice things around her, she asks questions that she wants to know the answers to. She also notices patterns, and can begin to answer those questions based on her own observations. We have found that child-initiated experiential learning is incredibly rich and empowering. This kind of learning has a tendency to build upon itself and develop with a child as she grows.

Furthermore, when a group of children explore together, the interplay of their individual interests, observation skills, and questions often magnify the benefits of experiential learning. We have seen amazing interactions with the Taproot groups’ dynamics. Their excitement and curiosity are contagious. Their learning is authentic. Their experiences are memorable.

Taproot places great importance on respectful and kind interaction, effective communication, peaceful problem-solving, and personal responsibility. We expect children in Taproot programs to be polite and considerate of others at all times, especially when conflicts arise. We expect them to learn and use each others’ names, and to choose their words consciously to clearly communicate their ideas and desires. The Taproot leaders all have extensive experience in working with children to help them learn to interact effectively. They will provide gentle guidance in these matters, and redirection when necessary.

Tuition/Cost Information:

Each additional day per week receives a $50 discount per session. 
Special delivery (if we don't pick up at your child's school that day and you bring her to us) is $50 less per session.

Fall Mondays $520

Fall Tuesdays $560

Fall Wednesdays $600

Fall Thursdays $675

Fall Fridays $560

Spring Mondays $600

Spring Tuesdays $680

Spring Wednesdays $680

Spring Thursdays $765

Spring Fridays $640