What is a Forest School?
The Forest School concept is one in which children experience gregular and repeated access to the same natural space, as well as emergent, experiential, inquiry-based, play-based, and place-based learningh (MacEachren, 2013). The defining feature of this type of nature-based education program is that children are provided with opportunities to build an on-going relationship with the land, to a dedicated educator, to one another, and to themselves through this unique educational approach. For more information on Forest and Nature Schools please visit http://childnature.ca/forest-school-canada.
Where will the programming take place?
Our Forest School is located at 2 locations:
Ryerson Camp at 2202 Front Road just west of Normandale. It is a beautiful 60-acre property with plenty of room to explore and an incredible view of Lake Erie. A fire pit, sand pit, picnic tables, grassy play areas, wooded trails and a secure indoor space are the childrenfs classroom. WE are there in the Fall and Spring and migrate to our winter home at the Forestry Interpretive Centre , 885 Highway #24 (just west of Forestry Farm Road).
Circus in the Trees, located at 301 Jenkins Rd, Scotland, ON N0E 1R0. The property, owned by the Logan family, is a wonderful setting with open areas, woods, trails, and wetlands. For times of inclement weather there is also an indoor classroom.
How old does my child have to be to participate in Forest School?
At least 3 years old and all children must be potty-trained.
What is the ratio of adults to children?
Our ratio is 1 adult to 6 children. The maximum number of children for the program is 12.
What are the ages for children to attend?
Ryerson Camp (near Normandale
- Ages 3 to 6. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays
- Ages 6 to 12 (homeschooled). Mondays.
Circus in the Trees (near Scotland)
- Ages 6 to 10 (homeschooled). Tuesdays.
- Ages 11 to 14 (homeschooled). Fridays.
What will my child do each day?
Children enrolled in our Forest Kindergarten are given the opportunity to interact with nature through the use of loose parts, creative play, an outdoor campfire, knots, magic spots (sit spots), nature stories and songs, den building, gardening and identifying flora and fauna. We allow children to explore muddy puddles and make collections of and work with natural resources.
How is the day structured at Forest School?
The Forest School approach happens over time but has a structured, yet relaxed atmosphere. Our Forest School educators focus on what the children can do; thus building self-confidence, self-esteem, and autonomy within a shared, collaborative, and convivial environment. The children discover nature through open ended play activities employing natural resources. Children learn in a way that is age appropriate and personalized. The shape of the day will start with arrival and morning welcome, as well as invitations to open ended loose parts play. This will be followed by a morning adventure, snack, fire, and creative exploration (making, building, sharing stories), lunch, unstructured play and more creative exploration.
What kind of natural environments will my child be engaging in?
Every session will consist of a morning adventure into a forest, meadow, open play area or garden setting. We will set out to our destination to explore, plant, play, make-believe, do art, make music, dance, sing, read and share stories, create, run and jump in puddles, collect natural curiosities, learn practical skills, observe wildlife, scoop and pour, build, laugh, and wonder.
What if I need to get in touch with one of the teachers during the program?
If there is ever a need to pick up your child early, or any other emergency, the program leaders carry a cell phone to communicate with the goutside worldh, as well as two-way radios that allow them to stay in direct contact with each other.
Who are the teachers that will be running the program?
Our lead educator is Colleen Dale who has 15 years experience as an Outdoor Educator, has an Early Childhood Education certificate and is currently enrolled in the Forest School Practitioner program. Assistant Educators are carefully chosen for background and experience. All staff are First Aid Certified and hold a current Vulnerable Sector Police Record Check.
What will happen in inclement weather?
Our program, as much as possible is held completely outside. In the event of severe weather (thunderstorms, heavy rain, high winds, extreme colds or snowstorms) a fully-functional indoor classroom is available.
Where do I drop my child off, and pick them up?
Pick-up and drop-off will be in a designated drop-off area. Staff will be there to meet parents at the beginning and end of each day.
What if my child needs to use the bathroom while outside?
Two outdoor washrooms with hand-washing stations are located centrally to our activity areas.
What does my child need to bring to Forest School?
All tools and materials for the program will be provided. You will need to bring items for your child such as a change of clothes, lunch, snacks, water bottle, rain gear, bug and/or sun protection. A list is included in the Parent Handbook. Note: Potable water, to refill water bottles, is on-site.
How do you ensure the safety of each group?
The environment in which we work is risk assessed prior to any activities taking place in order to make the space as safe as necessary rather than as safe as possible. Age appropriate risk taking is encouraged at Forest School so as to educate children to manage their own abilities and gauge safety.
When introducing tool use, we have a structured approach. Every time a new tool is being introduced children are closely observed so as to ensure proper use and procedure. Fire lighting and fire side cooking is a favourite activity at Forest School. We approach fire activities responsibly and safely, starting with the lighting of a very small fire until children become accustomed to choice of fire site, components required to starting a fire, appropriate selection of tinder, kindling, lighting, maintenance, and building. Ongoing interactions are aimed at developing a healthy respect for fire and fire use.