How do I enroll my child?
Described below are the procedures necessary to enroll a child in the Forest School program.
Helping parents decide.
- Phone Call
An initial phone conversation with the teacher gives you the opportunity to ask questions and better understand if the program would potentially be a good fit for your family.
- Parent Observation
An opportunity for you (without the accompaniment of your child) to observe the class and decide how well your child would respond to our daily rhythm and outdoor environment.
Formalizing student enrollment.
- Enrollment Forms
Several forms are required for student enrollment. These include contact information, image release, and a liability waiver. Forms to be electronically signed by all parents.
- Payment for Registration
A registration fee of $350 is required to move forward with the enrollment process. This fee covers staff expenses associated with the next steps. Payment can be made via bank transfer or credit card via electronic invoice.
Getting student ready for their first day of school.
The steps below happen in the two weeks leading up to the student’s first day of class.
- Child Biography Meeting
At least one parent and the teacher find time to talk about your child’s life before Forest School. This helps us establish a context for working with your child. We are flexible on the venue, which could include a coffee shop, a walk, or a playground.
- Home Visit
Your child’s teacher comes to your home for a 45 minute visit. This casual visit is intended to give your child the opportunity to strengthen the connection between home and school.
- Tour of Nature Area
This walk through the nature area with your child’s teacher is intended as a casual, family activity. It helps you familiarize yourselves with the environment your child will be in.
- Parent Child Visit
The parent child visit involves a 45 minute participation in the child’s first Forest School experience. This helps establish excitement and confidence for your child.
At this time, your child is ready to be dropped off.
- Half Session
This is a half session, the intent of which is to help your child build confidence and endurance.
Your child is now ready to join for the whole session. You can expect them to begin experiencing the emotional and developmental benefits of nature connection within a supportive, small group environment.
Are the children outside all the time?
At the Ann Arbor Forest School, as long as conditions are safe, we hold class. As an experienced teacher in outdoor education, Tara designs the day’s activities to manage the well-being of every child—and makes sure parents know how to properly dress their children for the weather. We do not have an indoor facility and close when weather conditions are unsafe to be outside for the duration of class. These include lighting, high winds, freezing rain, freezing temperatures, high heat and humidity.
How do we keep warm in winter?
We wear lots of layers of wool, fleece, synthetics, and down. These fabrics keep us warm and dry even if a child manages to get wet. We help you find the right gear and some items are available for rent. To keep our bodies warm, we keep active by taking walks and sledding. We stay well-hydrated to help our bodies regulate our temperatures. For relief from the deepest cold, we close when the ambient temperature with the windchill will not be comfortable or safe to play outside for the duration of class. When class is cancelled due to weather, an optional makeup class will be offered whenever possible.
What if it's really hot out?
To manage the heat in the warmer months, we make sure that we are prepared with sun hats, sun shirts, loose light-colored cotton clothing, and closed-toe sandals. We hydrate, stay in the shade, and take shorter hikes. For relief from high heat and humidity, we close when it will not be comfortable or safe to play outside for the duration of class. When class is cancelled due to weather, an optional makeup class will be offered whenever possible.
What do you do when it rains?
If there is no lightning, we enjoy light rain and stay comfortable with proper gear. We wear rain coats, rain pants or waders, rain gloves, and rain boots. The rain provides us new opportunities to learn. For example, we might go on a puddle walk to discover the water cycle firsthand. The children hypothesize where in the park we will find the most puddles. We play in the puddles and follow the water as it flows, making the connection to the creek. When class is cancelled due to heavy, cold rain, an optional makeup class will be offered whenever possible.
What is the teacher-to-student ratio?
The teacher-to-student ratio is 1:5 for children ages 3 to 8.