Here are some of our most frequently asked questions. If your answer isn’t here feel free to reach out to us!
A Day in the Life (above) offers a good idea of our daily rhythm. Each day time is spent in wide, ranging play and in smaller, quieter reflection and story-telling. Children are involved in deciding how to stay safe and how the day will unfold. Educators strive to make space for everyone to do what they need to and want to, as well as bring the right tools along, ask the right questions, and to step back when we are not needed. We never know at the beginning of the day exactly how it will unfold, except that there will be plenty of dirt, rocks, sticks, play, and learning.
We often repeat the adage “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” On rainy days we follow a very similar rhythm to sunny days, with the addition of wearing our waterproof layers. Many children believe the forest is much more fun when it is filled with puddles. That’s when it is easier to find frogs and salamanders, too!
As mentioned regarding rainy days, we dress for the cold in the winter, and we follow a very similar rhythm to other seasons. We do have a wood-heated cabin on site, though, and each day after exploring and playing in the cold and snow, we cozy up inside to eat, get warm, create, and tell to stories.
The city of Ottawa has deer ticks (black-legged ticks) and that includes the site of Ottawa Forest and Nature School. More information can be found here: http://ottawa.ca/en/residents/public-health/disease-and-medical-conditions/lyme-disease
Interest is so great, we never have enough openings for all of the families interested in sending children to us one day/week. We are grateful and inspired by this interest in Forest School, and we are steadily growing our capacity.
We open registration season-by-season, usually in March (for Summer), June (for Autumn) and November (for Winter/Spring). We inform interested families via email. If you would like to be informed when registration is opening, please get in touch with us.
We acknowledge that exploring and playing in the forest is an ever-changing setting and our ratios reflect this. 8/1 is required for our school-aged students, 5/1 for our preschoolers. With guests, practicum placements, and volunteers regularly joining our trained staff, our ratio is often even lower.
If you are interested in volunteering we would first ask that you read our Forest School Guide. When you are ready please get in touch with us. We would then set up a date for you to be a guest, ask questions, spend a day experiencing our approach with children in the forest. If you are able to join us regularly, we require a Vulnerable Sector Criminal Reference Check, which we would support you in getting. We would then consult our schedules to make arrangements for you to come play with us when you can. Our volunteers add great enthusiasm, inspiration, and support to our programs. If you are interested, we would love to hear from you!
While we have programs running each day of the week, some days are better than others for visiting. Our Families in Nature Drop-In Program which runs on Friday mornings, are a great time to stop by, get a feel for how children interact with the forest, and to speak to adult family-members about why they value the role forest school plays for themselves and the children in their care. Please see our Families in Nature Drop-In section above for further details.
We do not offer once-only field trips. We do work with public school students each week (in nearby-nature and on our site) through our partnership with the OCDSB. Each class comes to us one day/week for 6 consecutive weeks so that we can all sink into the forest together, and nurture the students’ connections to the land, themselves, and each other.
The forest is a lovely choice of venue for celebrating a birthday. We are unable to offer this service now, though we may do so in the future.
We understand that there is a need and interest in having before and after school care provided in the forest. We are unable to offer this service now, though we hope to do so in the future.
Unfortunately not. Our space is shared and we cannot accommodate such requests at this time.
In general, children attend our programs one day per week.