What is Forest School?

Outdoor Connections Forest School is a outdoor inspired program run by a team of educators, parents and outdoor enthusiasts.  This program provides children with the opportunity to spend time immersed in nature, playing and learning in a local forested area.  We firmly believe learning doesn't have to be confined to an inside environment, and value free-play outside.  The program strongly follows the Forest School philosophy which is child-directed, emergent and inquiry-based learning. Research continues to show that nature reduces stress, increases attention span and fosters healthy brain development.  It is critical to the healthy development of the whole child.    

Forest schools can be found in many parts of the world and are gaining in popularity all over Canada.  Forest schools are typically child-centred, interest-led and place-based.  Children are provided with the opportunity to build ongoing relationship to the land through regular visits to the same location.  Educators present mini-lessons when children show interest in learning more about a topic. Using inquiry-based teaching styles, teachers prompt children to ask why and foster the development of the child’s own critical thinking skills. Children spend a large portion of program time engaged in valuable unstructured play.

What is child-led learning?
It's about letting a child 'go', to do what they need to do in order to learn and to grow.  When children are provided with a rich and stimulating learning environment their natural eagerness to understand takes charge.  Children follow their own play patterns encoded in their body and developing brain, whether they are in their own world or playing with other children.  During Forest School, it is the teacher's job to watch and wait as they discover, invent and explore.  The child may show an interest in music , creating shapes, inspecting bugs or making letters and the teachers will support them when required or requested.

How does playing outside help my child learn?
Creative outdoor play is a fantastic way for children to learn. The beauty of using natural objects in play is that children need to use verbal skills to communicate the meaning and purpose of an object to each other. A stick, for example, becomes a walkie-talkie, a magic wand, an animal, or a fishing pole in the development of a play scenario. Children spontaneously invent more creative plot lines in play where they are not surrounded by toys or materials with a predetermined use and meaning. In this way, outdoor play is conducive to the further development of imagination and creativity. 

Who are my child's teachers?

The 3 main facilitators have experience working with children in the outdoors and are trained Forest School educators through the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada.  Courtney, Sinead and Emma hold formal qualifications including BEd, MA and valid First Aid certificates such as OFA 3, WFR and WFA.  Each facilitator has a clear criminal record check and Vulnerable Sector Check.  Learn more about each teacher here.   

What happens if my child gets cold?

We strategically select instructors that have worked with children in outdoor environments for this reason.  The teachers are well educated and familiar with the concept of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.  In summary, when a child does not have their basic needs met, learning can not take place.  Teachers will be proactive by checking in with children regularly on how they are feeling.   We have a yurt with a woods stove to warm up in and an outdoor fire pit with a picnic table. 

What activities might my child do?

  • Digging & Quinzee building
  • Nature crafts and painting
  • Knots & Tarps & Ropes
  • Fire Building & cooking
  • Animal tracking, bug hunting
  • Music & Rhythm
  • Jumping, running, throwing, splashing
  • Listening, sit spots
  • Climbing trees, berry picking

What does a typical half day look like?

9:00am  Arrival
9:15am   Welcome Circle
9:30am  Site Assessment & Play
10:30am Snack & Story
10:45am Activity & Free Play
11:45am Return to Meeting Area
12:00pm Departure

How much does it cost? 

We offer a fall, winter and spring program.  Participants must register for at least 1 season/session.  We encourage annual registration to enhance learning.

Preschool program (3-5 yrs                                             School age program (5-7 yrs)                            

Fall Session (15 weeks)                                                     Fall Session (10 weeks)

   2 days/week = $592.50                                                   1 day/week = $400.00

Winter Session (10 weeks)                                                 Spring session (10 weeks)

   2 days/week = $395.00                                                 1 day/week = $400.00

Spring Session (10 weeks)  

   2 days/week = $395.00

Can I come visit Forest School?

We do accept volunteers to come and observe the program.  All volunteers need a valid Criminal Record Check.  If you would like to be a volunteer for Forest School please contact info@connectoutdoors.ca.  The role of a volunteer to watch with minimal interference.

How can I become involved?

Outdoor Connections could not run many of the programs it does without the help of volunteers. You can go to our Get Involved page and tell us a little bit about yourself and how you would like to help.  We suggest you browse the rest of this website to familiarize yourself with its mission, values, and beliefs.