Forest Kindergarten Vision
In our Forest Kindergarten program, children learn through play and exploring our beautiful 35 acres of natural space. Our Forest Kindergarten is an outdoor program for 4-6 year olds. Inspired by the Waldorf education model and the forest schools throughout Europe, our inquiry-based learning nurtures a children’s sense of wonder and creativity. Through observing a child’s play, teachers craft meaningful play invitations, share stories or pose questions, which support the child’s learning process.
Through joyful engagement in the Forest Kindergarten, children develop lifelong capacities for creative thinking, self-confidence and an awareness of others and their natural environment.
Our Two-Year Kindergarten Model
Children typically attend our Forest Kindergarten for two years. The two-year Kindergarten program is akin to a plant: during the first year of Kindergarten, the seeds are planted and nourished; in the second year, the plant fully blooms and flourishes.
This type of learning environment has several benefits including:
The relationship between the child, teacher, and the child’s parents deepens during two years of working together, enabling better support for each child’s unique developmental path.
Children have unhurried time to develop the skills they will need to be successful in school and in later life. Older Kindergarten children can engage in activities for longer and at a more complex level. At this stage, they are more inwardly motivated to initiate rather than participate out of imitation.
The second year of Kindergarten provides opportunities for the older children to develop leadership capacities and a sense of responsibility by setting the example for younger peers in a familiar setting.
Younger children are often inspired by the older children’s expertise and the older children have the opportunity to encourage and support younger peers, thus creating a more complex social environment.
In the Wild Oak Forest Kindergarten, nature is our “classroom”. While each day brings new adventures, the daily, weekly and yearly rhythms of our program provide a welcome security for the young child. The daily rhythm and weekly patterns of meaningful work such as washing, baking bread and preparing soup provide a comforting sense of time and structure. The predictability of knowing “what comes next” allows children to be fully present in the moment.
We meet four days a week, Tuesday thru Friday, from 9:00-1:00pm. Because we are a mixed age Kindergarten, we offer a nap/rest extension from 1:00-3:00 for younger children, which will be held in the Cocoon, our on site building. Each day your child will come prepared with a backpack with a spare change of clothing appropriate for that day’s weather and a water bottle. Warm snacks will be provided daily, but each child will bring a sack lunch.
9:00am Drop off and morning exploration
9:20am Circle Time and Morning Greeting
9:40am “Potty train” and prepare for hiking adventure.
10:00am Hike to Giant Gorge, Newt Creek or Mossy Meadow (Many discoveries are found along the way.)
10:25am Morning Snack (The children learn the day of the week by the snacks of the day, Apple and Tea day, Bread Day, etc.)
10:50am Nature play (During this time of unstructured free play, the forest teachers will offer play invitations such as a nature craft, woodworking or hand work.)
11:40am Story time (Teachers will share a nature story, often reflecting the play and interests of the children.)
11:50am Hike back to camp
12:15pm Lunchtime in the Cocoon, our on site building.
12:45pm Nap/Rest time
(Younger children will transition to nap/rest time, while older children will transition outside with forest teacher assistant for a nature craft or nature exploration.)
1:00pm Pick up for children who are not in our nap extension program.
(Remaining children depart.)
*This rhythm is not fixed, and reflects the natural rhythm of the children. It may also change due to unforeseen weather changes. (Thunder, lightning…)