What do we do at forest school?
We are a fully outdoor nature immersion early childhood program based in the traditions of Waldorf education, Scandinavian forest schools, and ancestral skills. We follow a daily rhythm that includes seasonal songs and verses, play and exploration, handcrafts, and story time.
A core value of forest school is following the child's inspiration. There is endless learning to be found in nature. Children learn best when they are allowed to follow their curiosities and with the gentle guidance of a teacher, explore and ask questions about the natural world around them. Where does this water go? Hmm, let's follow it...oh look, a bird is drinking from the stream. What kind of bird is it? Let's watch where it flies when it takes off. How do we know it's a Northern Flicker? And so on.
Early math foundations
Numbers are everywhere and are a natural part of our world. While harvesting acorns from underneath the oak trees, we may ask our students, how many acorns do we already have in the basket? Let's count them together! Simple math lessons are integrated into our daily rhythm with natural materials: adding and subtracting pinecones or leaves, counting the number of items in our harvest basket, and becoming familiar with the shapes we find in nature. Our small class size allows us to meet each child's individual learning needs.
We encourage fine motor skill development through earth-based handwork projects like stringing berries with a needle and thread, hollowing pine nuts and elderberry branch pieces to make beads, or tying corn husks together to make corn husk dolls. These crafts offer children the opportunity for creative expression with a variety of materials.
We follow a Waldorf approach to literacy in early childhood, which encourages a child's love of language through rhymes, songs, poems, and stories with good articulation and vocabulary. Waldorf understands that both physical movement and healthy social/emotional learning environments are crucial to a student's ability to learn to read and write. We read and tell stories, learn words together, practice good communication skills, and create nurturing learning experiences that lay a foundation for success with later academic work. The current body of research on early childhood education understands that children who learn to read earlier do not experience higher levels of academic success later on. We focus instead on the child's relationship with learning itself, which will serve them well for their whole lives.
Our students learn plant life cycles, how to identify common edible and medicinal plants, as well as which plants can be used to make various tools and crafts. We process acorns for food and gather rose hips and pine needles to make a tea rich in Vitamin C. We practice safe fire keeping and learn how to take care of fire. We also learn basic orientation and nature awareness skills such as directions, tracking and bird language. Through interaction with our environment, our students develop a deep understanding of how we are connected to the natural world around us.