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Forest School Classes 

Supported by loving educators, our children lead their own journey of discovery through imaginative play, arts, crafts, songs, music, storytelling, puppetry, games, seasonal festivals, bush crafts, life skills and the wondrous offerings of mother nature.

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Classes for 3 - 7 year olds are offered to a small group of 10 - 14 children for three or five mornings a week.. Enrollment will include older children over time, so there is the potential for your child to stay with us for years to come.

This is an all weather outdoor program which follows the Forest School ethos of holistic education, with inspiration from Waldorf and Reggio Emilia. Playing, learning and mentoring takes place in small inclusive circles with a 5:1 child to adult ratio. 

The classes take place on our property: a 2.5 acre clearing in the forest, with a vegetable garden, fire pit, clay oven, some ancient fruit and nut trees, abundant wildlife and a cosy bell tent.. We have access to beautiful areas of forest owned by The San Juan Islands Preservation Trust, just a few minutes walk away. 

 

Three family festivals will be held each year, to celebrate the seasons with a sense of reverence, community and joy.

 

Schedule:  early September - mid June

5 days per week: Monday - Friday   9am - 1pm

3 days per week: Tuesday - Thursday  9am -1pm

Child to Educator Ratio: 

5:1 maximum

Financial Assistance is available through the San Juan Island Family Umbrella Group. 

We also offer a Summer School

 

Please email amy@littlehouseintheforest.com for more information and to enroll your child.. 

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What is the Forest Schools approach to learning?

 

The primary aim of the Forest School ethos is to maximize the social, emotional and developmental potential of the learner: building self esteem, confidence and creativity, through a holistic approach.

 

To achieve this, the child is at the centre of the experience within a supportive learning community. Children can guide their own learning, reach goals in an environment where there is no right or wrong, manage risk safely within a high ratio of children to adults (5:1), and learn through direct experience in nature.

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During the first six weeks of Forest School, the leader is focused on recognizing the qualities of the learner: their interests, schema, learning styles, social and emotional literacy and will then facilitate experiences that help them to build confidence, develop new skills and benefit them throughout their lives.

 

Play is valued as a route to discovery and enables learners to be engaged in their own interests, developing a love of learning.

A Forest School leader thinks in terms of experiences rather than activities. We do create lesson plans, but these are inspired by the children’s play, their questions and interests. And we remain open to the natural flow of each class.

The Forest School experience is most beneficial when a learner participates over a long period of time, allowing exploration and self-discovery to occur most successfully within a consistent environment throughout four seasons, with their peers and adult mentors.

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Head, Heart & Hands: what is Holistic Education?

 

The concept of Holistic Education was developed by progressive theorists including Rudolf Steiner, Maria Montessori and John Dewey. They asked: ‘how can we help students to fully become themselves?’ There are many facets to the individual: social, physical, intellectual, creative, emotional and spiritual, and for a person to develop a well-rounded sense of self, meaning and purpose, the learning environment needs to nurture: mind, body and soul, through the loving presence of the educator.

 

Within Holistic Education, a sense of well-being and joyfulness is valued over academic achievement. Imperfections are accepted, creative thinking and self expression is encouraged, the mystery within each child is ignited, and wisdom, peace and compassion are deepened through an understanding of how everything is interconnected. Often a curriculum is fragmented and the child cannot see how things are interrelated. In holistic education connections are made with the body-mind, between subjects and within community and the earth.

 

A safe, loving, non-competitive learning community is created in which relationships and reverence for life, and the natural world are valued. Students are encouraged to master their unique natural gifts, and it is the educators job to discover what these are, while remaining responsive to diverse learning styles and changing needs. Reflection and questioning keeps the ‘flame of intelligence’ burning.

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How does Forest School foster Resilient, Confident, Independent and Creative learners?

 

We need resilience to help us bounce back from life’s challenges and disappointments. Forest School allows for experimentation where there is no right or wrong. Participants are able to explore their own ideas on their terms and make their own judgments. In Forest School, failure provides opportunities for growth, creativity and the chance to try again with new wisdom. In this way, mistakes are viewed in a positive light by the learning community and this builds resilience.

 

Confidence is the inner knowledge that we are capable. Forest School fosters this by assessing the skill level of the participants at the start of a program and gradually introducing experiences that offer more challenges, in small achievable steps. Because the individual learning styles of the participants are supported, they are more likely to have positive outcomes, leading to growth in confidence.

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Once we can regulate and determine our own actions we have gained independence. Participants in Forest School are given the freedom to make their own choices and explorations within the site, without much adult intervention. Every child is deeply respected and has a voice at Forest School, thus helping to develop a sense of independence and interdependence within the learning community.

 

To generate original ideas and problem solve we need creativity. Children are naturally creative, and given the right environment, will use their imaginations endlessly. The loose parts of the woodland encourage children to see that anything can be everything: A pinecone and two small sticks becomes an mouse; a hole in a tree becomes a home for a troll, and so a child’s ability to visualize is strengthened. 

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