What is forest kindergarten?
This is a play-based AND a place-based educational approach! Developmental and educational experts agree that play is the ideal format for learning in early childhood. Our highly-trained Educators observe, inspire, and, when necessary, gently guide children’s play to promote developmentally-appropriate growth. In the place-based model of learning, children to return to the same beloved land again and again to feel at home, to witness the magic of seasons, and to make space for deep and complex play. Our emergent curriculum also leads us to follow the children, sometimes quite literally, off the path to a newfound discovery! We are a cooperative, which means that when families enroll in forest kindergarten they choose the tier of tuition that fits their needs and contribute the corresponding number of volunteer hours to helping with programs, administrative tasks, weekend trail maintenance projects, etc.
Athens Forest Kindergarten is an all-weather program (rain or shine, really!) We have safety procedures with regard to severe weather and we will have a safe building to retreat to as needed. If your child loves stomping in puddles or playing with mud, you’re in luck! The 2019-2020 forest kindergarten program meets every Tuesday & Thursday from 9:00am-1:00pm. We meet September through April, with a scheduled winter break and spring break.
We are proud to announce our partnership with ACC Leisure Services, which makes our 2019-2020 location possible. Starting this fall, the forest kindergarten program will make Sandy Creek Park our new home!
Tuition: The 2019-2020 tuition will be offered at two tiers. Families may self-select the tier that fits their needs. Tier 1 = $350/month + 10 volunteer hours per semester. Tier 2 = $300/month + 25 volunteer hours per semester. There will be a 10% discount for pre-payment for all eight months of the program by August 15th.
Fees: The application is required of all first-time applicants and has a one-time $20 application fee. The enrollment fee is an additional $125 and is required to secure your child’s spot in the program.
Other Costs to Consider: You will need some outdoor gear for your child including but not limited to rain boots, rain gear (one piece suit or separates), long underwear, wool socks, a winter hat that fastens under the chin, waterproof mittens, a high quality (rip-resistant, water-resistant) winter coat.
Expectations for the cooperative
Volunteer: As a co-op that strives to be inclusive of families’ different schedules, we recognize that not all families will be able to volunteer in the forest kindergarten program itself. To meet your volunteer requirements, we will offer a variety of choices, including the Forest-Helper role with the children (5 hour sessions), weekend trail maintenance, occasional community outreach projects, and administrative work for the organization. For the Tier 2 tuition (25 volunteer hours per semester), the time commitment works out to approximately 1.5 hours per week, or helping in the forest with the children for 5 Forest-Helper sessions. It may be helpful to know that family volunteer commitments may be split up among various family members but only a child’s legal guardian may volunteer directly with the Forest Kindergarten program.
Education: A fundamental principle of cooperative preschools is to provide parent education. We look forward to helping you deepen your understanding of topics such as gentle parenting, mindfulness, child development, inquiry-based learning, and more. We will offer approximately four education opportunities throughout the year (typically a short weekend workshop) and we ask all families to choose two sessions that fit their interests.
Community-building: AFK belongs to you! It’s our responsibility to create and maintain our sense of community. We encourage families to attend as many of our social events as possible, but at minimum, please plan on attending our Fall Potluck to welcome new families and our Mud Pie Bake Off in the spring to celebrate your year!