"A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful, is dimmed and even lost  before we reach adulthood."
Rachel Carson
Nature Hikes develop more than physical strength. Working in nature creates endless opportunities for discovery, and develops team work and compassion for other living people, plants & creatures.
The Blending Of Philosophies
Our educational philosophy is a blend of many different philosophies, but much of it stems from our discovery of Forest Kindergartens/Schools and our discovery of Waldorf Schools. Forest Schools are schools that are entirely outdoors in all types of weather. Forest kindergartens are relatively new in the united states, but have been studied for years in Germany and were first created more than 150 years ago by  Friedrich Fröbel, a German educator. They are created to encourage self awareness, cooperative play, imagination, creativity, and independence,  while stimulating children's  curiosity of the natural world.
 Waldorf preschool and kindergarten classrooms create a innate wonder and appreciation for the natural world. Created in the 1920's by Austrian scientist and philosopher Rudolph Steiner. Waldorf schools are dedicated to nurturing the developing child and helping them to develop as individuals while meeting their own unique learning styles and developmental needs. Waldorf school children meet the world, others, and themselves with a warm heart, clarity of thought and strength of purpose. Until the age of 7 years old, Waldorf education believes children should be taught through play, exploration, art, story telling, drawing, imitating the adults in their life with cleaning and cooking, and nature study. 
There are over 800 Waldorf schools, well established in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand and have recently begun expanding to parts of Asia and Africa as well.
Both Waldorf Kindergarten and Forest Kindergarten believe in completely immersing children the wonder and beauty of the natural world. 
Children of the Urban Forest is not a Forest School, or a Waldorf School- but we model many of our practices, and educational environment after such schools. 
We strive to create an imaginative space, where children can be children, loved and educated as the precious individual that they are!
We aim to give the children the freedom, that is not typically found in other educational environments.
Freedom! To be be silly, laugh, and play!
Freedom to choose the path they want to follow, and discover the topics that interests them.
Our Learning Environment
 Children of the Urban Forest is situated right in the middle of the city, in a beautiful neighborhood, near two public gardens and many parks to explore. Our indoor classroom is on the main level of our beautiful 1920's historic home. 
Both indoor and outdoor spaces have a home-like, natural feel rather than the sterile plastic school playground or classroom feel.
A Valentines Tea Party For Two- pure, simple, sweetness!
The Urban Forest Difference
 There are many differences between average preschool programs and Children of the Urban Forest preschool program. First of all, our environment indoors and out is completely natural. We do not play with any battery operated or plastic toys. Our classroom is filled with all natural, mostly hand-made, materials such as wooden blocks, felt gnomes, cloth fairies, blocks made from tree cuttings, puppets, dress up clothes made of silk. Every item is carefully created and selected to create a peaceful, beautiful environment full of imagination. 
The children are fed food to nourish their growing bodies. Organic, whole grains, and lots of live food (fruits and vegetables) fill our menu's rather than frozen pre-made meals. Our weekly menu guides have been developed by a professional nutritionist and Waldorf kindergarten teacher.
Our class size also differs from the average preschool program. At Urban Forest School we believe that young children need a small, consistent place to spend their childhood. Our group of students is small enough to provide special one-on-one attention every single day, while creating friendships and bonds that last a lifetime. The teacher is the same teacher year after year, which is not true of childcare centers or preschool centers- which have the children move from teacher to teacher each year. 
This creates a very strong bond between child and teacher, and parents and teacher.
The Urban Forest families truly become our family and we grieve when a child grows to old to attend Urban Forest, but we welcome our "big kids" back with open arms for visits on no school days or for weekend sleepovers!
Our Monarch hiking stick goes all over the city with us!
She is protecting our picnic lunch while we play near by.
Daily Experiences
The children of the urban forest do not stay in one spot for very long! We travel the city quite often in search of adventure. Growing up in Rochester, and in the Folwell neighborhood I'm pretty good at finding secret trails, patches of raspberries, and "mountains and rivers" to cross. There are adventures everywhere! 

There is nothing better than searching hidden trails for treasures on a warm fall day

Our May Day Celebration Snack

  Celebrating Festivals, Holidays and Birthdays
 Seasonal holidays and festivals are a large part of preschool life!
Celebrating together connects us to one another as human beings and also connects us with the yearly rhythms of the Earth. At Children of the Urban Forest we celebrate traditional holidays as well as seasonal festivals of humanity and nature. The children look forward to preparing, celebrating and remembering our special days each year. Many of our celebrations are just for students during school hours, but a few times a year we have family celebrations and encourage and welcome friends, grandparents and family members to join us in celebrating. 
All of our holidays and festivals are kept simple, sweet and meaningful.
Parents are encouraged to come to school and talk to the students about other meaningful holiday's or traditions in their own family life as well. 
We believe in celebrating each child's unique birth and journey on Earth. Each birthday is honored with a special ceremony of stories, songs and snack. Parents and siblings are welcome to attend and contribute to our birthday celebration.
More information about our holidays, birthdays, and seasonal festivals will be given to parents upon enrollment.

St. Nicholas and candles adorn our Holiday Dining Table

Teaching Style

The Children of the Urban Forest learn through direct hands-on experiences.
Experiences bring life to the subject and without them, the subject is lost. 
For example, imagine you are a preschool child sitting at a table while your teacher reads a story about a tadpole. Then, you sing a song about the life cycle of a tadpole, and play with a tadpole that is made of felt. It's fun, it's educational, but it's not a part of your heart and you won't take it with you as you grow.
Now, imagine you are a preschool age child and your teacher involves you in packing a bag with everything you need for a trip to the stream. A REAL trip to the stream. A real EXPERIENCE! You are actively involved in choosing the shoes, food, and equipment that will be most appropriate for a sunny summer day at the stream.  Your using critical thinking skills, and cooperation to get the job done. Imagine the very first time your toes hit the cool water and you look down and see a bunch of tiny little tadpoles swimming at your feet! Imagine catching your very first tadpole in a net, and watching it wiggle! You touch it with your finger and feel the cool, wet, smooth skin. On the walk back to school you sing about your experience and laugh about your wet, muddy pants.  Later, your teacher puts the tadpole in a container and takes it back to school, where you spend weeks observing the changes that take place.  When the frog is ready, your class walks again to the stream and let's it go in it's own habitat. You learn by experience what frogs eat, how they grow, and what type of environment they live in. THIS is learning with HANDSHEAD and HEART. By Learning something intellectually, feeling something emotionally, and using hands to do something with the learned material the subjects come alive. These children will remember their experiences for the rest of their life, and in turn have a deep appreciation and respect for the natural world around them. 

These experiences create a lifelong  JOY and ENTHUSIASM for learning!

Imagine you are a preschool aged child- which preschool experience would YOU choose?

One of our precious preschoolers and her sister, enjoying time "working" in the garden in early spring. If that isn't a magical childhood I don't know what is!
We Believe in Childhood!
We believe in getting dirty, splashing in puddles, mud baths, catching snowflakes on our tongues, rainy day walks, hunting for bugs, hugs and kisses, dancing to loud reggae music, naps in the sunshine, painting with hands and feet, friendship, finding shapes in clouds, searching for fairies and gnomes, seasonal festivals, searching for fallen bird nests after a wind storm, jumping from log to log, giggles, spending a hot day in the sprinkler, swinging,  togetherness, kindness to all creatures big and small, healthy organic food, snow angels, lazy summer days,  appreciating beauty, silly jokes, gardening, running as fast as the wind, collecting acorns and pine cones, swimming on sandy beaches, catching crayfish and minnows, picnics, dance offs, singing, rolling down hills, laughing, raising caterpillars, firefly night lights, bird and squirrel feeders, snuggling on a cold winter day, crunching through leaves in the fall, sleepovers, reading stories aloud, dress up clothes, tea parties, stopping to smell the flowers even if they're in your neighbors garden,
and most of all ENJOYING childhood and living life to the fullest!
It all goes by so fast.