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Check out this great video of our students in their forest preschool!
What if it rains?
At Montessori Forest School preschool and kindergarten we “dress for success” and as long as your child is sufficiently dressed (layers when cold, always an outer waterproof layer and rain boots), there is no reason that rain will affect class. We do our best to stay in the forest where the cedar trees act as natural umbrellas and on days where it is especially wet we will spend a little extra time at a picnic shelter, greenhouse, or gazebo with reading or a group activity.
When is class cancelled?
Safety is always our FIRST priority. Class will be cancelled in the event of severe inclement weather. This includes but is not limited to: wind storms, snow, ice, hail, and flooding. If the local school district is on a 2 hour delay, class will meet at 10:30. All school closure announcements will be sent via email and text message as soon as they are available.
What does a typical Montessori Forest School day look like?
As an outdoor preschool each park, trail, or farm we visit offers something special and unique that accentuates our lesson plans. Some classes will be more hiking/exploration oriented, while others have a farm or garden experience to offer. Each class revolves around an overall monthly theme with smaller, weekly themes and includes a circle time with educational lesson, craft or science experiment, exploratory hike with scientific tools, and story time during snack/lunch. A sample of our curriculum can be found here.
Infants & Toddlers Program:
We will soon offer an INDOORS (as per regulations for infants & toddlers), licensed Infants & Toddlers Program, with options for before care (7:30am-9:30am) & after care (1:30pm-3:30pm), M-F, serving Snoqualmie & Mercer Island. Our full-time enrolled infants and toddlers (M-F) will have first access to our Outdoors Preschool Program once they graduate Nursery School at the appropriate age and stage.
At Montessori Forest School, students learn the building blocks for a successful education in reading, math and science plus important executive functions and social skills.
Our teachers use a play-based Montessori curriculum with lots of hands-on exploration.
We celebrate childhood and help kindle a child’s curiosity and wonder.
We read to them. We speak in complex language to them – they hear that words have meaning We sing together – rhyming, phonetics... We encourage book handling and model writing Story dictations, Journaling, Cooking.
We write in front of children.
We use children’s names - the most familiar word to them.
We play guessing games involving names, pieces of language and words.
We use unlimited writing and reading opportunities, in context & self-motivated.
We play /use different languages in the classrooms
Forest Schools, also called Nature Kindergartens, originated in northern Europe. Called “Rain or Shine” schools in Norway because they go outside every day regardless of the weather.
Nature preschools have become wildly popular with over 1,000 schools in Germany alone.
Three examples are: The Eastwood Urban Forest School in London.
This Outdoor Preschool in Norway, North of the Arctic Circle.
See the next tab for information on the benefits of a nature rich education or the Natural Start Alliance to learn about the nature preschool movement in the United States.
Nature preschools started in Europe and are an old, proven concept.
We use the learning from generations of teachers to keep our children warm and dry in a Snoqualmie winter.
In fact kindergarten means “children’s garden” and originally took place outdoors.
In Norway over a quarter of kids go to an entirely outdoor preschool like this one;
there are 100s of schools in the country (think 4yr olds on snowshoes!!).
And in Sweden, Finland and Switzerland (three countries that top the education charts), outdoor preschools are commonplace and publicly funded.
In Germany alone there are over 1,000 Forest Kindergartens.
To keep our kids warm and dry we ask that every child:
Childhood is hungry work and here at Montessori Forest School, we make sure every child enjoys healthy, local food.
We currently require families to provide their own lunch.
We require each family to provide healthy, organic fruit snacks for your child(ren).
Our preference for snacks are foods that are low-glycemic (no processed sugar) - starches high in fiber, high in unsaturated fat and protein. Vegetables, unprocessed healthy oils, nut butters, high fiber fruits (like apples) and spreads like hummus are common.
We keep children with food allergies safe by not allowing any nuts in their food. We ask parents to keep the lunches and snacks as plant-based and gluten-free as possible to accommodate for any wheat dairy, eggs, fish and animal product allergies, known and unknown.
Some schools may have a garden element where children get to grow their own food.
We don't offer any nap time. If a child feels sleepy, we will have hammocks and portable cots available with bedding.
Medications need to be handed in to the teacher, with a written note /email with instructions.
The greatest indicator of quality preschool is quality teachers. We invest in our teachers in the following ways: All lead teachers are required to have a MACTE AMS Montessori certification. All teachers go through a national background check. All teachers are CPR and First Aid certified.
We hire great educators who are loving and caring, can create an emotionally and physically safe space and are passionate about being a mentor for children. Our teachers are mentored and supervised by our Director of Education and Operations, Shaijah Wolf. Our priority is to hire full time teachers with benefits and invest in them for long term success. Emotional and physical safety is a core value of Montessori Forest School. We create emotionally safe environments for every child, that are caring, supportive and healthy. We do this by creating clear expectations for how we treat each other, and holding children accountable for meeting those expectations. We use: Role modeling, Giving reasons, Expressing our own feelings, Needs & Requests, using Observations - not Evaluations, Admitting our own mistakes, Acknowledging feelings, Caring for animals and plants, Using an authentic voice, Teachable moments, putting a lesson into context, & we Teach the golden rule – “do unto others…” Having high expectations for how people are treated here.
We are a half-day program and are not required to be licensed by the DCYF.
We believe in the foundation for creating safe and healthy spaces for our children. We are currently looking to participate in the innovative Outdoor Preschool Licensing Pilot for the 2019-2020 school year.
About the Outdoor Preschool Licensing Pilot: In Spring 2017, the Washington Legislature passed SB 5357 “Establishing a pilot project to license outdoor early learning and child care programs.” The Department for Children, Youth, & Families established a pilot to analyze current models of outdoor preschools and adapt, when necessary, our licensing regulations to allow for the operation of outdoor early learning programs. In researching the area of outdoor preschool, the legislature found that while there are upwards of 40 outdoor early learning programs in the state, all operate as part-day programs and are therefore not subject to child care licensing regulations. Many of these programs have expressed an interest in hosting full-day programs, and participating in the state’s Early Achievers program. However, DCYF recognizes that many of our current licensing regulations are specifically geared towards the built, indoor environment.
Montessori Forest School makes preschool affordable for families by eliminating the cost of building a child care facility. Instead of spending our money on bricks and mortar, we spend it on what matters: great teachers. Click on Enrollment for tuition pricing. All classes have one price per day. Our full price is 10% below market rate. Tuition is an annual rate, paid monthly and due before the 1st of the month. For example, you would pay tuition for September on August 30
A $200 discount is issued for tuition paid in full for the year, up front, by the last day of the month preceding the start of school!
Montessori Forest School has built a foundation of 1 preschool in Snoqualmie, WA, and has opened a second branch on Mercer Island. Enrollments for both locations are currently open and we will be offering Summer Camps and opening our Fall Enrollments now too.
We intend that we can begin the enrollment process ASAP to begin school in September.
Custodianship – By fostering a love for nature in our classroom, children will develop the skills and the passion to allow them to become lifelong custodians for the environment in which they live. The practice of these skills in their day-to-day life will help educate others on the positive impact of environmental conservation.Leave No Trace – As a matter of respect for our environment we teach and practice the principles of “Leave No Trace.” We emphasize the importance of staying on trails to minimize damage to our ecosystem. We also leave it as we find it by picking up after ourselves and others to keep wildlife wild and preserve our classroom for others to enjoy it just as we did.
Reduce /Reuse /Recycle – At Snoqualmie Nature Preschool we do our part to help preserve our environment, energy, and natural resources for future generations by practicing these principles of conservationism. We make every effort to utilize environmentally friendly materials as well as teaching the benefits of recycling and composting by sorting our waste and identifying it for re-use or appropriate disposal.
Safety always comes first. Our classes are held exclusively outdoors and safety is always in the forefront of every parent’s mind. All teachers are CPR and First-Aid Certified. They are also outdoor enthusiasts that are trained and skilled in trail safety. We keep our class sizes small with a teacher: student ratio of 1:6 (maximum 10 with assistant), utilize a team-based system to organize ourselves, and perform activities in a safe manner to ensure that our children are always supervised and out of harm’s way. Trail safety is an integral part of every class and we teach our students what to be aware of when exploring in the outdoors to remain safe.We value the quality of your child’s education and that is why in addition to their roles as educators our teachers are also skilled hikers who are knowledgeable in the flora and fauna of the Pacific Northwest. Classes will feature an exploration hike integrated with our kinesthetic learning method where students have a hands-on opportunity to interact, experience, and discover their natural surroundings at their own pace. We also integrate the use of scientific tools to learn and explore bio-diverse environments, plants, and animals in a safe and respectful manner. The Pacific Northwest provides a wide range of environments that are always changing which gives us the opportunity to provide new and unique learning experiences with every class.Our exploratory hikes not only help us learn about our environment but also about ourselves. Leadership skills, confidence, independence, and self-reliance are built on the trail. Our hiking inspired program is designed to get your child excited about learning through safe exploration of their natural world. The more they explore, the higher their confidence in the natural world and in themselves will become and allow them to lead by example to the other children in the class.
The Montessori Method:
At Montessori Forest School, we believe in not only helping your child develop a connection with the environment but also with themselves, their peers, and their communities. This is why our curriculum is inspired by the Montessori Method. Here are a few principles that Montessori Forest School follows and abides by that align with Montessori:
MFS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit - tax ID 84-4398383
Montessori Forest School is a 501(c)(3) and is an equal opportunity charity. We accept donations from individuals, corporations, foundations, other non-profits, churches and anyone who would like to make a contribution to our mission of educating Teachers, Parents & Children. We appreciate your support!
To make a donation, please go here.
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