How do I apply or sign up?
Register and then use the drop-in scheduler to schedule a time to try the program, or email Faye if you don't see one open. If you need to change your drop-in class date with less than 10 days notice, a $30 change fee applies.
Where is drop-off and pick-up?
The meeting place is in Golden Gate Park near Chain of Lakes Drive East and Fulton Street. We call it Forest Gate (pictured). The confirmation email contains a detailed description of the location.
What are your ratios?
Our student-teacher ratios are 4:1.
Do you offer make-up classes when my child misses class because he/she is sick or when we will be away on a trip?
We don't offer any make-ups when students miss class. Because our classes are typically full, we're just not able to schedule them.
How do you communicate with parents?
After each class, one of the teachers emails the parents a detailed photo journal with photos and topics of interest from class that day. Parents and children enjoy looking at the photo journal together and having a conversation about the day's adventures. This practice is a wonderful way to solidify learning. Parents also enjoy forwarding the photo journal to grandparents.
Student privacy is very important to us. Parents are asked not to post class photos that contain children besides their own children on the internet or social media. We use as few photos as possible for marketing purposes and we always obtain written permission from the parents first.
What is the cost of each class?
Classes are $65 per 3 hour class. Monthly payment plans are available for parents with more than one child enrolled and for children attending class multiple days per week. Your tuition rate will never increase. You will continue to pay the same rate as when your child joined the program. For tuition questions please email Mara.
What is your vaccination policy?
We require that all students have the following standard recommended immunizations upon entrance to the program: 3 each of Polio and DTaP, 2 Hep B, 1 MMR or MMRV, and 1 Hib. The health and safety of our students and their families is our top priority.
What should my child wear?
Rugged play clothes, warm layers, a waterproof jacket, and lightweight sturdy shoes or boots work best in the forest. If the ground is damp or if it is raining, rain pants and waterproof shoes are required. Children love to sit on the ground when playing outside. Rain pants enable them to be comfortable and engaged for the entire class. L.L.Bean has great, affordable rain pants for kids.
What should my child bring?
A bag with a water bottle and a substantial healthy snack. No toys or candy please. Please drop him/her off with a full stomach and having recently visited the bathroom.
What do you do when it rains?
Children dressed in warm, waterproof boots, hooded waterproof jackets, and rain pants have a great time puddle jumping, fort building, and making mud pies. We have a shelter for snack time. We believe nature has a lot to teach us year-round in most weather conditions.
In exceptionally rare cases of extreme wind, thunderstorms, or absolutely torrential rain, classes are canceled (your account is credited).
What skills does playing in the forest develop?
Playing in nature improves balance, coordination, fine motor skills, attention, creativity, social skills, and much more. Visit our forest school approach page to learn more about the benefits and read the research.
Can my two-year-old attend class?
The minimum age we begin regular enrollment is when students are two-and-a-half years old. Occasionally we'll have a student who is not quite two-and-a-half years old attend a drop-in class to see if they will be ready for enrollment when they turn two-and-a-half. When a two-and-a-half year old attends a drop-in class we are watching to see if they are able to follow instructions to stay with the group (with a few reminders) and not to put things we find in the forest in their mouths. We're also watching to see if they are ready to separate from their grown-up. Sometimes after a drop-in class with a young student, we may ask that the student drop-in again in a few months to see if they are more ready to join the program. Please apply and inquire about scheduling a drop-in class to see if your child is ready to join.
What about going to the bathroom?
We teach the children to use "nature's potty." We have a portable potty in our tool wagon. Potty training is not required.
What is your allergen/nut policy?
We are allergy conscious and we don't allow children to share food. Nuts are allowed. Our enrollment form has a place to disclose any allergies.
How do you address safety issues?
Each class begins with an inquiry-based safety discussion about how to make safe decisions. Our goal is to cultivate the development of each child's own risk assessment skills.
How does outdoor preschool prepare my child for kindergarten?
Creative outdoor play is a phenomenal way to develop your child’s social skills. Children given the freedom to explore nature develop the confidence that is helpful in the transition to kindergarten. For more detailed information about what the scientific research shows please visit our forest school approach page. Many of our students attend our program one to three days a week and then also attend a traditional indoor program a few days a week starting when they are three or four. Many of our students go directly from attending only our program to kindergarten and have an easy transition.
What is your cancellation policy for drop-in classes?
If you need to change the date of your drop-in class for any reason with less than 10 days notice, a $35 change fee applies to reschedule the class.
Where do you hike with the children during class?
We stay within a short hike of our meeting place that we call Forest Gate. There are many different engaging play locations within easy walking distance.