Frequently Asked Questions

What is a nature school?
The concept of Forest Kindergartens originated in Germany in the late 1960’s. Children spend a large portion of their school day outdoors, regardless of the weather, repeatedly visiting and exploring a particular landscape and its inhabitants. These programs are now popular throughout northern Europe, and quickly gaining momentum in North America.

How much time will my child spend outdoors?
Children at our school will be outside for approximately half the class time. On days with challenging weather, this time may be shortened; on very pleasant days we may find ourselves outside for the whole class.

How will I know if nature school is right for my child?
We encourage families to familiarize themselves with a variety of early childhood education programs in order to choose the best fit for their child.  Children who attend nature school will experience adventure, independence and physical activity.

What indoor activities will be offered?
Children will engage in free play and group time inside the Edwardian Cottage. Growing vegetables, harvesting, cooking and eating are all regular components of our curriculum. Children also have many opportunities to create art, engage in imaginative play, develop fine motor skills, participate in group circle times, and enjoy reading, quiet time and yoga.

What clothing will my child require?
Your child will need proper outdoor clothing to ensure that their time outside is comfortable. This may include multiple under layers; a warm outer layer such as a wool sweater, fleece, or down jacket; a rain jacket that fits over the warm layer; rain pants; two pairs of boots, one rubber and one insulated; wool or fleece socks; a warm winter hat and a sun hat; a neck warmer; and mittens. Children also need a pair of light indoor shoes or slippers to be kept at school. A comprehensive list of suggested clothing will be provided in your parent handbook.

What if my child is sick?
Children should come to school feeling well enough to participate in all activities, including outdoor time.  Children with symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, fever, or rashes are expected to stay at home as required by the Vancouver Richmond Coastal Health Authority.

Does my child need to be toilet trained?
Given the nature of the program, children must be toilet trained.

What does parent participation mean?
Parents of students in the afternoon OWL class will assist in the program approximately once a month with prepping, clean-up, special projects, and assisting children with outdoor clothing.  We regretfully cannot include siblings in our program due to licensing requirements.  It is the responsibility of the parent to arrange for a substitute if they are unable to attend as scheduled.

Does your program support children with special needs?
We are an inclusive center with a commitment to serving children of all abilities. Two spaces in the OWLS class are reserved for children referred through Supported Child Development.

Will my child be ready for kindergarten?
We have learned that Nature School children are particularly independent, physically confident, knowledgeable and articulate about their outdoor environment. Additionally, we believe the following skills and abilities to be indicative of school readiness:

  • When children leave early childhood to enter common school they can:
  • Participate as a member of an interdependent community
  • Care for themselves, the others, and the community
  • Treat others with love and compassion
  • Cooperate with other children to accomplish group goals
  • Celebrate group accomplishment
  • Laugh and play with a tangible sense of joy
  • Express many human emotions in language and art
  • Be inquisitive
  • Initiate new ideas and invent solutions to problems
  • Stick at difficult tasks or come back to them later in order to succeed
  • Run, hit, catch, throw, kick and tumble
  • Sing and dance with exuberance
  • Paint, draw, sculpt, and construct objects of beauty
  • Care for common spaces and materials toward cleanliness and order
  • Greet guests with courtesy and charm
  • Act in stewardship for the environment and one’s own health and well-being

– Tom Drummond, Educator, Washington State

Further information

BC parent resources
Choosing a Child Care program (on the Healthy Families BC website)
BC Early Learning Framework

Forest Kindergarten:
Forest Schools Canada
Maclean’s magazine article
Nature Kindergarten site

Reggio Emilia:
North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA)