This online director’s series explores some of the most asked questions about running a forest or nature preschool. In addition to informative webinars, course also includes templates and resources you can adapt for your program. Don't worry if you can't join us live - each part is recorded and sent to you.
Note: We recommend taking our three-part webinar, Creating Your Nature-Based Preschool, as an introduction if you're new to developing a program. The Director's Series is a deeper look at relevant topics once you're on your way!
Part 1: Handbook Basics
What policies should you include in your handbook? What language can proactively address parent concerns and help inform them about what to expect? What licensing and accreditation components should you include? What health and safety practices should you include regarding outdoor eating, toileting, and handwashing?
Part 2: Embracing Risk, Managing Hazards
How do you balance healthy risk-taking with the reality of safety considerations outdoors? What tools and practices can protect children, staff, and the program as whole? How do you talk to families about risks versus hazards? What can we learn from UK-based Forest School Association about risk management?
Part 3: On-going Evaluation of Program, Staff, and Yourself
What forms of evaluation can help your program thrive? How can you assess (and minimize) impact of your program on the natural environment? How do you evaluate staff in a supportive yet constructive manner? What resources and reflective practices can help you continue your own growth and professional development as a leader?
Want to get fresh air, physical activity, relieve stress, keep minds active, and play outside? Then this series is for you! Here we explore a range of ways parents and teachers can experince the natural world with young children, no matter the setting. Part one examines STEM-based topics of science inquiry, technology use, engineering, and math ideas. Part two is focused on ways that nature-based play and learning supports literacy and language development. Part three is an explosion of creative arts experiences with natural materials. Supplemental materials and webinar recordings will be available to participants, as well as a PD certificate for three clock hours. Register and enjoy the recorded webinars at anytime!*
The nature preschool movement is in full swing because of people like you! If you're thinking about starting up your own nature preschool or forest kindergarten, this course offers specific information and tips to help you along the journey. Module one covers planning basics; module two highlights strategies for marketing and community partnerships; and module three provides approaches to support children, families, and staff. Bonus documents include a sample business plan.
Presenter: Sally-Ann Anderson, SOL Forest Preschool
Discover some of the challenges of taking young children with diversabilities outside and gain some practical tips and strategies to make these experiences successful for everyone involved. This webinar is presented primarily through a Forest School lens, but some alternative approaches to getting children with diversabilities outside will also be discussed. We will address the needs of Deaf/Hard of Hearing, ESL, developmentally delayed, and physically challenged children, as well as children with autism, children with challenging behavior and children with health concerns in this webinar. If you have thought about offering special programming to children with diversabilities within your existing Forest or Nature School program, or already have a few children with Special Rights enrolled and need help supporting them, this webinar is for you!
ABOUT THE PRESENTER: SALLY-ANN ANDERSON
Sally has worked for over 30 years with young children, most of whom have diversabilities. She is the Site Principal at the New Mexico School for the Deaf, Albuquerque Preschool; Forest Day Learning (FDL) Founder & Lead Teacher, NMSD Santa Fe, Albuquerque & Farmington Preschools; and Founder, Director & Lead Teacher of Sol Forest School, Tijeras, New Mexico.
For decades, she has utilized the power of the natural world as a tool in supporting the development of young, diverse learners through the implementation of natural loose parts play, a focus on learning through the seasons, school yard "nature-scaping", school gardening, place-based learning, and forest school programming. Sally believes that all children have a right to learn in a nature-connected way, and that it is vital to their holistic development, as well as to the future of our shared Mother Earth.
You know that natural play spaces have significant benefits for young children. But how do you go about creating one? This is a quick and dirty intro to planning a natural play space, no matter your setting. We will walk through important design considerations, features, and ways to mobilize your learning community for support.
This webinar introduces the foundations of forest school pedagogy as it applies to math curriculum in K-6 elementary education. We will discuss how it is possible to blend forest school with the teaching of specific curricula learning outcomes, as opposed to being an ‘add-on’, which requires extra time within an already crowded curriculum. Focus is placed on K-6 math learning and shows how learning math in the forest is engaging for all (teachers and students). We will also examine how it can support students suffering from behavioral and motivation issues, who are often distracted and disengaged in class.
ABOUT THE PRESENTER: CAROLINE BAILLIE
Professor Caroline Baillie is a trained forest school leader (UK) and STEM educator with diverse multidisciplinary background. She shares her time between academic work at the University of San Diego, CA and work with ‘Waste for Life’, which she co-founded with partner Eric Feinblatt. Caroline formerly ran an innovative ‘bush school’ in Australia with Noongar children using forest school pedagogy (see Bush school talk) and continues her work with Indigneous communities through her collaborative work with USD students and the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Nation (see Kumeyaay). During 2018, Caroline also facilitated the development of forest school at Sullivan West Elementary school in Sullivan County NY, which focuses on supporting math learners in the outdoor classroom. Waste for Life's Standing People Together program is currently launching its ‘Forest Exploratorium’ which provides forest school sessions for K-6 age children in rural Sullivan County, NY. Learn more about programs and training with Waste for Life here.
How do we build and expand nature-based programs and community that supports inclusive practices? How do we advocate for children who struggle with challenging behaviors to ensure support for every child? Explore solutions to some of the toughest questions facing nature-based educators today with Lisa Burris, director of Turn Back Time in Paxton, MA.
ABOUT THE PRESENTER: LISA BURRIS Lisa Burris is the creator, founder and Executive Director of Turn Back Time a nonprofit working to improve the lives of ALL children through nature exploration, farm education and play. Lisa has a degree in Human Services, a certificate of completion from Antioch University for Nature Based Education and Forest Kindergarten and is a trained foster parent with the state of Massachusetts. She has five children and is the adoptive mother of three children with special needs.
This self-guided course offers a comprehensive look at essential skill development for young children as they prepare to enter more formal learning environments like public school. We examine the many ways that skill development abounds across the developmental domains in nature-based early childhood programs. Four modules identify and explore how we can nurture physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development -- including a lasting love of nature. Each module provides supplemental activities for educators and caregivers and ways to support family engagement. Course includes 6 hour training certificate.
ABOUT THE PRESENTER: PAULA JACKSON
Paula is an experienced nature-base educator with roots in Montessori teaching. Her love of nature-based early childhood education blossomed as a lead teacher at the nature preschool at Irvine Nature Center, where she went on to launch their forest kindergarten program, Forest Dreamers. Her outreach extends to preschool children, teachers, and caregivers in Baltimore City through professional development that melds urban nature connection with ways to utilize and enhance outdoor learning environments. In addition, she is also a forest guide at River's Edge, a nature immersion program in West River, MD.
Nurturing Communication in Your Learning CommunityOpen lines of communication are essential to ensuring that families feel safe and excited about bring their children to your program. Staff need open communication to feel heard, appreciated and empowered to give their all. Children need our examples and, plenty of opportunities, to communicate their wants and needs, too. This webinar examines some of the unique aspects of communication in a nature-based program and offers several strategies to improve upon your structure.
Loose Parts, Props, and Tools
Yes, all the elements for meaningful learning are already right there in nature with no enhancement needed. But if you want to facilitate skill development in specific ways, then loose parts, tools and props can supplement outdoor learning experiences. This webinar explores a plethora of materials, tools and props with corresponding activities and processes that you will want to try!
The Value of Natural Play Spaces
There is a rich history of natural play spaces the world over. This webinar offers a survey of natural play spaces with a deeper look at substantial skill development linked with outdoor play. Research from academic sources will be offered throughout. If you want to know more about the proven value of natural play spaces, or if you need more talking points for parents, fellow colleagues or grants, this is great place to begin.
Water Play with Young Children
The water cycle is a time-honored topic that early childhood educators share with young children. But how? Another water cycle mobile? This webinar emphasizes how water brings the senses to life as young children discover the states of matter, aquatic habitats, and weather through experiential (wet!) outdoor play.
Back to [Nature] School Basics
Heading back to nature preschool? Join us for a webinar that will explore specific items you'll want to address with children, parents, and teachers. Brush up on policies, routines, and materials that will help everyone get back into the nature preschool groove! If you're establishing a new program, this webinar offers great insight about the basics.