Frequently Asked Questions
- What’s the schedule for the program?
- What does a typical session look like?
- Can parents and very young siblings participate?
- What about rain/snow/other ‘bad weather’?
- What about toilets?
- What about literacy?
- What about laundry?
- When do sessions start?
What’s the schedule for the program? Why aren’t sessions longer/more frequent?
Each group meets for 90 minutes, once a week, roughly following the school semester dates (September/Oct to December, January to June). Depending on registration, it can be possible to sign up for more than one day per week. It would be wonderful to be able to offer a full-day program, but that is a few years down the road. Sessions are currently 90 min long in order to manage the lack of bathroom facilities at one of the locations ; ) as well as the low temperatures expected for the winter. If it turns out that the winter weather is manageable for our less active or mobile participants, we’ll lengthen the sessions. The more fresh air, the better.
What does a typical session look like?
No two sessions are the same, and there is no fixed routine, no order of activities and specified duration to each activity. This is a precious hour where the children decide which activities they wish to engage in, and for how long. Frequently children will want to check in on what they did the week before (is the log-dinosaur still there? Did it eat the leaf salad we left for it?), and a comment or object can inspire them to build on what they were doing (let’s make mud pie for it this time) or someone mentions something they did on the weekend (I saw a cardinal in the backyard!) and suddenly a completely new activity arises from that. Child-led learning allows children to follow the object of their interest with full enthusiasm, making the experience and the things learned more memorable.
Usually, though, we read at least one book together that the children choose from the basket of books. Who doesn’t like a book about creepy crawlies? ; )
Can parents and very young siblings participate?
Yes, and yes. One parent or other adult per child/group of siblings must be present during the sessions. Young siblings who are not yet able to participate are welcome to attend as ‘observers’ and stay with their parent/adult.
Hopefully in the coming years we will be able to start offering drop-off sessions. Stay tuned.
What about rain/snow/other bad weather?
The short answer: As the Norwegians say, there is no bad weather; there are only bad clothing choices. If you’re properly dressed, you can enjoy all sorts of weather!
The long answer: We’re prepared. We have a kit list for different weather situations. We check the weather forecast (and encourage parents to check as well – and involve your kids – it can open up great science discussions and also give children a sense that they can make educated guesses about the future, and prepare themselves for it). We’re also big fans of spare socks.
Kids love being outside in almost any weather – it’s adults who tend to think of rain or chilly air as inconvenient. When children are properly outfitted, they can safely enjoy the pleasures of raindrops, puddles, mud, icicles, and gusts of wind.
If you’re on this website and you’ve read this far, you probably value getting kids outside and into nature. We shouldn’t feel “at the mercy” of the weather; the variety of weather phenomena is a feast for the senses, not an inconvenience. Foggy days, rainy days, etc let children (and adults!) see a familiar place in a (literally) new light.
That said, if there are weather situations that present a clear health risk, such as extreme heat or cold, significant hail, or lightning, we may reschedule certain sessions.
What about toilets?
We love bushcraft and connecting with nature, but we also love hygiene and modern plumbing. Our forest school sessions are, whenever possible, held at a location with accessible (flush!) toilets, sinks, and soap. If a location doesn’t have washrooms, we recommend making a pit stop at home before you come.
What about literacy?
Pen and paper are not the only tools for learning literacy (and numeracy!). Experiential learning, handling objects, etc, all lead to a solid understanding of basic mathematical concepts, and we’ve never seen a nature school whose participants don’t make letters out of sticks and write their names in the dirt. Fostering curiosity is more useful in the long term than trying to get kids to read as early as possible in the name of some vague ”headstart”.
What about laundry?
Does forest school sound too good to be true, like there must be a catch somewhere? This is it. We’re not going to beat around the bush; your child will be bringing home lots of muddy clothes.
When do sessions start?
Fall 2021 sessions will begin the last week of October. See the Fall 2021 tab at the top of the page for more information.