HOW DOES THE CURRICULUM COMPARE TO A TRADITIONAL SCHOOL EXPERIENCE?
Our programs provide the same school-readiness, social-emotional learning, and motor skills experiences that any traditional program would provide, if not more. Our programs combine simple seasonally appropriate lessons along with an emergent curriculum, which means that the school day flows based on what the children express an interest in. There are no academic benchmarks we insist children reach. However, it is likely that a day in the forest could include spontaneous counting of flowers, drawing names in the dirt, etc. This model strongly believes that children begin exploring what they are ready for and in this spirit we will support and honor their natural curiosity. To give our children the gift of a deep connection with nature is to give them a foundation of compassion, cooperation and curiosity. This foundation can only be formed through unstructured immersion time in nature.
IS FOREST SCHOOL A GOOD FIT FOR EVERY FAMILY?
While everybody benefits from extended time in nature, a forest school program may not be a good fit for every child or family. We are committed first to the safety of all students, so we require that every student be able to follow directions and always stay with the class. There are many variables that can effect whether or not a forest school program will work with your little one (ie. a child's previous time and experience in nature, a child's readiness to be away from their family, etc...). Forest school is also a bit more of a commitment for parents - from driving time to and from our beautiful canyon location, to committing wholeheartedly in dressing your child in appropriate all-weather gear. There is a lot to consider - every family and child are different and have different needs at different times (ie. maybe your 4 year old is not ready this year, but will be when they are 5!). With that said, we welcome all students into our program and extend a 1 month grace period to make sure we are a good fit for each other. And always, if there are any concerns or questions, please feel free to address them with us!
CAN I STAY WITH MY CHILD?
We are a drop-off program, which means the only adults in our "classroom" are the teachers. We have this policy for the safety of the students, as well as insurance coverage reasons. That said, we welcome parents to stay and gather at the local city park nearby (Big Springs Park) while we operate our forest school farther up the trail. It would be a wonderful way to get to know other families and build our Wildwood Forest School community!
WHEN DOES THE PROGRAM OPERATE?
Our main programs will run from September - May, during the typical school year. We follow the Alpine School District's calendar and are closed for all major holidays, and for winter and spring break (and we take the whole week off for Thanksgiving so everyone can have more time with their family!). You can see the class schedules here. If the local school districts close for inclement weather, so do we. Our summer forest camps are offered in the summer months. You can see the schedule here.
WHAT IF THERE IS INCLEMENT WEATHER?
If it is unsafe to be outside for any reason (high winds, extreme cold, lightning, ice storms, unsafe road conditions), we will cancel classes that day, with notice to the parents first thing that morning.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN CHILDREN GET COLD?
We are firm believers in the saying “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing!” As an all-outdoor nature program, we will be outside and celebrating all of the beautiful seasons that Utah has to offer, including rain and snow. Many forest schools in Europe exist in places that get very cold and have lots of snow. We require that all parents dress their children in weather-appropriate clothing - this might include long underwear, many quality layers, waterproof pants, snow gear, etc. When dressed for the weather, children's bodies generate more than enough heat (we provide detailed clothing instructions here).
WHAT ABOUT SAFETY/ACCIDENTS?
The health and safety of our students is our number one priority at all times. Our teachers are trained in Wilderness First Aid and/or Pediatric CPR, carry cell phones and first aid kits, and our teachers keep a close eye on students at all times. If there is an accident of any kind, a full report will be taken and caregivers will be notified at the end of the day, if not sooner.
Generally, children who have experience playing outside injure themselves much less frequently than children who don’t. This is because they are given the space and time to practice real-life risk assessment, gain essential gross motor skills, and understand their physical limits. These are skills that, when developed early in life, can help foster a lifetime of self-awareness and safety in the outdoors!
WHERE WILL MY CHILD GO TO THE BATHROOM?
We will have a small, private, portable toilet location for children to use. Our teachers are happy to help children learn to use this system. All Wildwood Forest School students must be potty trained for all programs.
WHAT IS YOUR REFUND POLICY FOR SUMMER SESSIONS AND CAMPS?
Our refund policy for prepaid Summer Session or special event days/camps is that all sales are final. We will, however, issue a refund if Wildwood has to cancel an event due to weather/unforeseen circumstances.