Updated: Apr 8
New for the 2022-23 school year, Early Childhood students ages 4-6 will have the option to join our Forest Kindergarten, led by one of our most experienced Waldorf Early Childhood teachers, Sarina Cirianni-Jones. Mrs. Cirianni-Jones has completed her Level 2 Forest School Training and has long held a passion for outdoor living and teaching. Our Forest Kindergarten will feature all the beloved elements of a Waldorf Early Childhood classroom - the rhythms of the traditional program along with the play-based and seasonal curriculum - brought to students in the idyllic natural surroundings of our campus woodlands.
A Picture of the Day in Forest Kindergarten:
Arrival at School: Students arrive at the Golden House, use the bathroom, and gather with their teacher and assistants before walking to the “Base Camp.”
Morning Activities: Base Camp will be the outdoor classroom in the forest and will feature practical work, food preparation, nature-based crafts, and activities as well as a daily rhythm, just like the traditional Kindergarten classroom.
Play: Students will imagine and explore the open-ended materials the forest offers and build a relationship with their environment.
Circle Time: Circle games, fingerplays, songs and stories, similar to the traditional classroom. This will also offer the opportunity for group gathering and sharing observations of the natural world.
Snack Time: Students will still participate in food preparation and the cooking of meals at the Base Camp.
Exploration: Practical activities such as plant identification, foraging, as well as woodland discovery walks and visits to our neighboring farm will be incorporated into the morning program, as well.
Noon Dismissal: The class will walk back to the Golden House for dismissal of our half-day students at 12PM. Students staying for the afternoon program until 3pm will complete the rest of their day at the Golden House with lunch time, rest/read aloud, and outdoor play in our Early Childhood play yards. The afternoon program until 3PM will remain unchanged from previous years.
Is Forest Kindergarten the only choice for my Early Childhood kindergarten-aged child (4-6 years old)?
No. Families who enroll in our Early Childhood program may choose either the Forest Kindergarten class or the traditional program.
Is there an additional cost?
There is no additional tuition cost for this program, but there may be additional costs for the necessary outdoor clothing for the program.
How many students can participate in the Forest Kindergarten class and how many adults will be with them?
We are planning for a maximum of 16 students with 1 teacher and 2 assistants for our Forest Kindergarten class.
What type of shelter is provided for the students in extreme weather conditions?
A tent with sides will be located in our Forest Kindergarten base camp to provide some shelter, heat, and breaks from the elements on days with harsher weather conditions. In cases of severe weather alerts or extreme conditions/storms, the Forest Kindergarten class will have an indoor classroom in the Golden House available to them.
How will students use the bathroom?
Students will use bathrooms at the Golden House before heading down to the forest each day and in the afternoon program. If students need to use the bathroom during their time in the forest, they will have access to a camp toilet with privacy at the Base Camp.
Will my child still participate in art and craft activities as they would in the traditional classroom? What about the fine motor skills often developed through these activities?
Art and craft activities will remain a part of the program, nature-based crafts and practical work will be adapted for the forest. Working with the natural materials and the forest surroundings, students will have ample opportunities for both gross and fine motor development.
How will the class deal with ticks?
Students in our Forest Kindergarten will participate in tick checks throughout the day. Parents of all of our students at the Waldorf School of Princeton are encouraged to incorporate a daily tick check into their home routines, as well. Some parents may opt to use additional tick-prevention measures such as insect repellents and/or oils to repel ticks and other insects. Good coverage from clothing and outdoor gear also assists in deterring ticks.
How can I indicate interest in or sign up for the Forest Kindergarten?
For current families, you may email Rachel Ullman, Director of Admissions and Marketing, at firstname.lastname@example.org, to indicate your preference for the Forest Kindergarten class. Our current families may also speak with their current Early Childhood teacher about their interest.
Incoming families who would like to join the Forest Kindergarten class should apply for our Early Childhood Program and may let Rachel Ullman (email@example.com) know their preference for Forest Kindergarten at any point during the admissions process. They may also discuss this option with the teachers at their Early Childhood interview, as well.
The Admissions and Enrollment processes for our Early Childhood remain unchanged, and the Forest Kindergarten will be a classroom placement for students who are 4-6 years old. When deciding on class placements, teachers will take families' preferences into account, but there remains a possibility that a family's first choice for their child's placement may not be available.