The Forest Preschool
Our forest Preschool takes place in all types of weather outdoors Monday-Friday. Children may choose to attend 2, 3 or 5 days a week, and our program runs from 9am-1pm. After submitting an application, we will reach out to you and arrange a time to have you come visit us.
We believe that childhood should be joyful and wholesome; that the earliest, most memorable kind of learning includes climbing trees, catching frogs, and making mud pies. We believe that empathy, love, curiosity, and respect are the foundation of learning. Our core values, which inform daily program routines, are:
Value of child directed play: Play is how children explore their world and learn about social relationships. Teachers act as observers and facilitators as needed to introduce a new opportunity or to help a child explore something that he or she is curious about.
Diversity: We embrace diversity of all kinds in the natural world and in the people in our community. Teachers work to foster appreciation of differences and an understanding that we all have unique life experiences and gifts to share.
Community and friendship: We are all on the same team - we work to support each other in both play and learning. Teachers actively guide children in developing social skills and relationships, and seek to build a strong sense of community responsibility for each other and for the spaces that we use.
Exploration, curiosity, and new experiences: Self-confidence and independence are built through the freedom to explore and try new things, including reasonable risk taking as a part of the learning process. Teachers encourage an “I can do it myself” and “I can try again” attitude as children have new experiences and test their limits and skills. We teach them that there are no such things as “mistakes” or “failure” while learning and that these moments are our greatest teachers and how we learn best.
Child Centered Learning
Our educational philosophy underscores our commitment to child-centered learning. Educators guide students in a natural environment as children ask questions, express curiosity or concern, and show enthusiasm towards discoveries. Students experiment, problem-solve, and explore with their senses. Students voice opinions and express ideas through language and the arts. Students develop friendships and learn from one another through cooperative play. In other words, students actively participate in all aspects of learning!
We integrate many approaches to support each child’s learning and growth by: providing a supportive, safe learning environment to encourage discovery, questioning and experimentation; offering sensory opportunities with live animals, natural objects, artifacts, trail games, outdoor interpretation, and creative arts activities; engaging cognitive growth and problem solving skills through hands-on games and activities; developing physical motor skills through active learning and play; promoting social skills and positive self-image through group play, cooperative learning, and appropriate risk-taking; cultivating empathy through discussion and celebrating diversity of all living things; nurturing self expression and creativity through arts, singing, storytelling, and reflective time in nature; encouraging family involvement through community celebrations, and classroom visits, to help students appreciate the wisdom of their first teachers — their families; partnering with parents to celebrate their child’s gifts and best-meet the needs of each child in our care; instilling respect and appreciation for the natural world and teaching children to "leave no trace" when
We strive for learning to flow naturally through child-led exploration and play, while creating a flexible learning environment for students. There is a balance of formal and informal learning and our program is founded on the following experiences:
Informal learning: knowledge acquired through discovery, natural interactions with others, and environments.
Formal Learning: knowledge acquired through a structured curricula or content presented by teacher
Sensory learning: activities or materials for exploring that incorporate sight, smell, touch, taste, or sound
Experiential learning: knowledge acquired through direct, hands-on, sensory learning experiences
Unstructured play: play that does not involve adult rules, adult narration, or adult direction*
Wild nature play: unstructured play in a natural environment
Child-led/centered/driven: following children’s interest in activities, topics, or places to allow them to make true meaning out of experiences
Risk-taking play: play that allows children to determine their own physical capabilities (e.g. climbing a tree); children learn to assess their own risks independent of adults telling them what they are able to do/capable of doing*
Emergent curriculum: refers to the fluid nature of learning by which children’s ideas emerge as they interact with others and the learning environment and the facilitation of further investigation of these topics.
Provocation: an invitation to explore, examine, create, or reflect based on given materials; there is not one correct way for the child to interpret a provocation.
*Teachers are always responsible for removing hazards and checking for unsafe conditions anywhere a child plays. Adults are always there to support, guide or help a child as needed.
Myth and Indigenous Education
We believe that myth is one the oldest ways we as humans have learned to understand our world and access our inner wisdom. In our program, we learn about and read different creation myths from all different cultures to spark curiosity and a way of exploring and questioning the world like the myth maker. For example, when a child notices something in the forest, he or she can begin to weave a story out of it so that the natural world acts as a portal into the world of magic and imagination. We use the power of myth to show the belonging of each subject to one another, and the interconnectedness of our entire universe and how different aspects of it mirror one another. We promote the use of metaphor and simile, creating songs and poetry and fantasies while interacting with nature and playing in it. We encourage students to ask the big questions that myths seek to answer to foster wonder and curiosity.
The land that we inhabit was once the land of the Lenape Tribe. We value land acknowledgment and teaching students about indigenous cultures, traditions and stories. We will celebrate them and find ways to give back to their communities. We will also learn from their wisdom that every plant, animal, stone, etc. has a spirit and something to share if we can learn to listen, cultivating a respect and a connection to all things. In our circle gatherings we will use the tradition of the talking stick and guide students in heart centered sharing.
Outdoor discovery requires freedom of movement in non-restrictive clothing that protects us from the weather. Please check out our gear guide to see what your child might need.
A Typical Day Schedule
Please see our typical day schedule to get an idea of how most days will run.
Tuition & Enrollment
Enrollment is for the duration of the program: fall, spring or both. Children must be three years old by Oct. 1 of the year they are enrolling and fully toilet-proficient before attending. Applications are accepted year round and placement is first come, first served. If space is available, we will send an enrollment contract. Within two weeks you must sign and return the contract, along with your non-refundable down payment of $200.
Our tuition is based on a three tier system. However, if your family requires further tuition assistance, a sliding scale may be applied.
The tuition can be paid monthly, by semester or year.
We offer sibling discounts (10% discount for your second child and 20% discount for your third child on), discounts for yearly payment in full (2%) and alumni discounts (5%).
Tier 1 offers a 20% discount in tuition from tier 2
Tier 2 is the tuition to cover the cost of running the program
Tier 3 is adjusted 20% for families with the means to support the continued growth of The Wizard School mission and allow for a more diverse community, further enrichment opportunities, gear for families in need, and better compensation for staff members