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Program Eligibility & Rhythm of the Forest School Day

  "Now I know the secret of making the best persons; it is to grow in the open air & eat & sleep with the earth."

                        -Walt Whitman

Get Ready for Forest School!

Program Eligibility:

In order to be eligible for our Forest School program, Treeschoolers MUST be:

  • between the age of 3-6 years old (by Sept 1) for SOL's Treeschool program for early childhood years

  • between the age of 7-12 years old (by Sept 1) for SOL's Tall Pine program for elementary school aged children

  • capable of separating from their parent or caregiver at drop off

  • capable of walking in & out of the site with the SOL Staff & fellow Treeschoolers or Tall Pines

  • demonstrate age-appropriate independence in carrying their own backpack, taking their own jackets on/off, & managing their personal belongings

  • capable of listening to & taking direction from adults, particularly as it pertains to safety

  • healthy enough to spend an extended period of time outdoors in the elements through the seasons

  • toilet-trained (with assistance)

  • demonstrate a desire to participate with and stay with the group

  • able to attend "full-time", meaning attending one, two or three weekly forest school sessions each week, for which tuition is paid either monthly or by full semester

  • dropped off / picked up by a parent or designated caregiver at our Forest School site.

 
Rhythm of our Forest School Day:

 

One of the endless wonders of Forest School is the fact that things in nature are constantly changing, so each session tends to offer a new mystery or delight to explore.  While there is plenty of time for deep play & contemplation, there is also a structure to our Forest School session. A typical day at Treeschool (ages 3-6) looks something like this (times are an estimate & vary depending upon what site we are using):

  • 9:15 am - 9:30 am - Drop-off Window. Please arrive early to allow time to use the bathroom, etc.

  • 9:30 am - Start / Circle-up for greetings & a brief pre-hike meeting 

  • 9:35 am - Walk to site 

  • 9:45 am - Forest Circle (songs & welcomes; mindful moment which might include gentle yoga, breathwork, etc.; risky play meeting)

  • 10:00 am - Soulful forest play, block I

  • 11:00 am - Lunch (packed from home) & Story Time

  • 11:30 am - Soulful forest play, block II (this may also include supervised tool use, special projects & provocations)

  • 12:45 pm - SOL provides a healthy snack & story time

  • 1:15 pm - Prepare to leave, hike out of site

  • 1:30 pm - End

  • 1:30 pm - 1:45* pm - Pick-up Window
    *Late pick-ups are subject to late-fees


What is a typical day like for Tall Pines (ages 6/7-10)?

Our Forest School Guides use a structure similar to the schedule above, with the same drop-off / pick-up window. Tall Pines, being elementary-aged learners, are included and supported in group decision-making. In choosing how the day will progress and where they will adventure, each child, with support from the Forest School Guides, is encouraged to develop their own voice and deeply listen to the ideas of others.

 
 
What to Pack for your Child's Day at SOL Forest School:

Your child will be expected to carry their own backpack so it is important that you have them try some backpacks on before making a purchase.  A higher-quality backpack from an outdoor / sports store will serve better than something cheaply made.  Look for a backpack with a waist belt &/or a chest belt as this helps to distribute the weight of the backpack, as well as one with a built-in safety whistle, if possible.  These can be found at REI, on-line & usually in the larger box stores.  The backpack should be big enough to carry 1 large or 2 small water bottles, some spare clothes, a hat, & any special personal items such as sunscreen, bug spray, handkerchief or tissues, etc. PLEASE do not send your child with toys or cherished items as we are not responsible for anything that is lost or destroyed while outside in the field.  We also are unable to dispense medicines to your child so these cannot be in your child's backpack.

This is what your child should bring to each forest school session and have on them or in their backpacks:

  • sunscreen applied on their face/body (applied by parent)

  • 1 or 2 water bottles (in their backpack, filled with water)

  • closed-toe shoes & socks (all year round)

  • long pants strongly recommended year round (durable/lightweight/breathable material in warmer temps; shorts NOT advised)

  • sun hat (all year round, the NM sun can be intense throughout the year)

  • extra set of clothing, including underwear AND socks (all year round; adjust spare clothing for the season)

  • extra layers (all year round: non-cotton long bottoms, long-sleeved shirts & fleece or sweater in cold months)

  • warm hat, gloves/mittens (2 pairs on wet days) & scarf/neck gaiter or balaclava (Oct-Mar)

  • winter jacket, fleece, hoody or warm sweater (depending on the season)

  • NON-cotton long underwear worn under pants in cool/cold weather

  • Snow pants during winter/snowy/wet weather (NO cotton)

  • NON-cotton socks in cold/wet weather

  • snow boots in cold weather (i.e. Bogs, Sorrel, Kamik, and similar; mid-calf or well above the ankle)

  • rubber boots in the muddy spring (i.e. Bogs, Muck Boots, and similar; mid-calf or well above the ankle)

  • waterproof rain coat & pants during monsoon season

  • lunch packed in a separate lunch bag (include ice pack in warm weather; we will keep all of these together in a separate cooler bag)

  • [optional] tissues, wipes, sunscreen, hand gel, etc. IF you have a brand-name preference or your child has an allergy / sensitivity

  • [optional] mask for drop-off and circle time (please see our current Covid policy)

Please check (empty) your child's backpack after each forest school session as it is highly likely you will find all kinds of "treasures" inside from their outdoor adventuring!

 

Snacks & Lunch:

We provide a healthy, community snack that may include a fruit/vegetable, grain, and/or protein (dairy, meat, or plant-based). We do not encourage sending separate personal snacks for Snack Time unless your child has food intolerances / allergies (if this is the case, we will reach out to you to learn how we may support your child at SOL). If your child "runs hungry", please pack an emergency snack (or two) in their backpack. We eat lunches packed from home together.  On occasion, we may have a child with a severe food allergy and may ask parents to NOT send lunch with the offending item (peanuts or peanut butter, for example). 

Birthdays at SOL:

For birthdays, we encourage you to share a favorite book or story during our snack or lunch circle. Parents are welcome to come along & read this book during their child's birthday celebration, and you can coordinate this in advance with your child's teachers. If you wish to provide a birthday treat, we prefer you send low-sugar, finger-friendly treats to share with the group (watermelon, grapes, etc.).