What's Included in Enrollment?
Neoprene Rain/Snow Boots
Forest Preschool is held outdoors, with an indoor space available for extreme weather (lightning, high winds, or frigid temperatures). Appropriate attire goes a long way toward comfort in the outdoors! The opportunity to witness nature no matter the weather leads to a greater appreciation and respect for our environment.
Forest Preschool offers many opportunities for children to play, explore, and form meaningful connections with others and the environment. Organizations such as the Natural Start Alliance and the Children & Nature Network specialize in research that supports the value of outdoor education in early childhood settings.
Each group has one teacher to every five children.
Our outdoor classroom space is located next to the Visitors' Center, with access to a bathroom. All children in Forest Preschool must be potty-trained and bathroom independent.
Masks are required during Forest Preschool. All participants are expected to bring two masks to Forest Preschool daily. Staff will encourage social distancing, however, following the NJDOH requirements, when social distancing cannot be observed face coverings will be required. TNC staff will wear face coverings throughout the program as well.
Children in Forest Preschool are not divided by age. Mixed age-level groups allow older children to model skills for younger children. Children must be a minimum of 3.5 to enroll, and can turn 6 years old during the course of the program.
It’s not just a stick! It’s a fishing pole, a magic wand, a sword, a shovel, a conductor’s baton… With all the possibilities for play, sticks are an important part of outdoor education. Children are taught that sticks must be carried with one end in their hand and the other end pointing down. If a stick is larger or used for swinging, children are directed to find a safe space away from other people. Fantasy play, including sword fighting, is seen as developmentally appropriate as long as the play does not involve physical contact. If play escalates to an unsafe physical or emotional state, staff will redirect the child’s play.
"The Forest Preschool is an amazing program that has gone above and beyond our expectations. Firstly, it is very safe when it comes to COVID protocols, as it outdoors and the kids are screened and masked daily. Secondly, the teacher Miss Amanda is super talented, educated, patient, kind, resourceful, and really knows how to bring out the best in all the kids. We learn so much as a family from her. Thirdly, being outdoors means not only exercise and natural discoveries, but so much evidence-based research shows how kids thrive for life with early outdoor educations. Also makes for great dinner conversations about the salamanders or other creatures they encounter around the 'classroom.' We are so grateful to have discovered this program and glad that there was room for our daughter. Highly recommend!"