Will my child learn to read and write at Magnolia?

The first road to learning to read is not learning letters, it is learning to think symbolically.  A stick becomes a fishing pole, a pine cone becomes a baked potato, and a rock becomes a baby dinosaur egg.  As time progresses, children become more sophisticated in their transformations, including transforming themselves into something else. Eventually they do not need objects at all and can transform into fantasy without the scaffold of any props. Children use similar representation mental processes in reading and writing as they do in symbolic play.  MacArthur Genius grant recipient, writer, and former kindergarten teacher, Vivian Paley, says that “fantasy play is the glue that binds together all other pursuits” and believes that play is “the oldest and best learning tool”. At Magnolia, children's pre-reading and writing skills are nourished through the breadth of play-based learning experiences that fill up their days.

How many children are there on average each day?

We expect to have 18-24 kids each day.

Is there a covered area in case the weather is unseasonably brutal?

Yes, there are two cabins we will have access to anytime.

Are there bathroom facilities?

Yes, there is a bathroom at our main site and a small toilet for children who are potty-learning.

Are the children always together or are they ever separated by age?

Our program is a mixed-age program (ages 2.5 – 5) with children learning and playing together. While they do tend to naturally sort themselves by ability and interests, we feel the community of learners is most rich when older children nurture younger ones, and younger children are given the opportunity to learn and play above their age and ability. This provides a wide variety of growth opportunities and prepares them for the skills they need to function in society.

What is snack and lunchtime like at Magnolia?

Lunch at the Magnolia is one more time that the individuality of each child and the family from which he comes becomes evident. Each day the family provides its child with a lunch that is prepared at home. Lunches should be packed in a single container that the child can eat out of with a water bottle for hydration, and, in the colder months, a thermos with your child’s favorite hot drink is strongly encouraged. These items should fit in their backpack so that your child can carry it easily during our hike into the forest.

A piece of fresh fruit will be available in the morning after our morning hike (around 9:30) then lunch time around 11:00 am. Water for hydration and warm drinks are allowed anytime. We ask that each family contribute one piece of whole fruit for each day that your child attends (WHOLE small apples, bananas, pears, and oranges are ideal). Please no popcorn, fruit snacks, cut fruit, cereal, chips, or pretzels. Thanks!

Are children allowed to play at the beach?

There is a lot of meaningful sensory input and water play that happens at the beach. We count shells, build sand castles, and discover the wonders of the beach. Children can be found creating environmental art, experimenting with writing in the sand, and challenging their engineering abilities. Children are allowed to jump in the small waves. The beach is on the Hood Canal which is very mild.

The beach is a great place for us to visit during summer camp. We visit the beach intermittently throughout the regular school year, depending on weather and class size.

Is my child safe at Forest Preschool?

It is a powerfully beautiful sight to step into the forest and see children playing. There are children who have dug holes and sit in them, almost subterranean. There are children stretched out on the ground staring into the sky and majestic trees. There are children sitting still by a tree or running by as fast as their feet will carry them. There are children swinging on ropes. There are children climbing on stumps, dirt piles, or onto the low branches of the trees. All of this activity raises an incredibly important question. Is my child safe at Magnolia? The climbing, running, and zooming risks they seem to be taking are merely pseudo risks that will foster a greater respect for their own abilities and limitations. Children may begin their tenure here not being able to do the things mentioned above, but peer apprenticeship and adult encouragement quickly bolsters confidences and bodies are set in motion. The teachers are watching the kids extremely carefully but not obviously. The student/teacher ratio is such that we are never more than a few feet away from an intrepid climber or a few inches away from a busy shelter builder. And if danger looms, there is always our one rule: Do not hurt yourself or anyone else.

Additional safety protocols:

  • Low adult to child ratio of 1:6.
  • Children wear matching bright Oaki rain suits in the cooler months and matching yellow or orange vests in the warmer months.
  • Children must stay in sight and sound of their teachers at all times.
  • Teachers constantly count making sure all children are in view.
  • Children are given clear physical boundaries.
  • We limit outsider adult to child interactions, when encountering the public, teachers talk to adults first.
  • Children are not allowed to go to the bathroom without an adult.
  • We only allow children to be picked up by designated friend and family members.
  • We use pickup and drop off locations that are safe, have ample parking and low traffic risk.

Our risk management protocols are based on those used by outdoor preschools in Europe and North America and are reviewed and improved regularly. Our preschool teachers are trained in outdoor preschool models.

We use the park during the least busy time of the day: morning to afternoon on weekdays. In many cases the perceived risk of being outdoors in higher than the actual risk.

Visit Magnolia and learn more

We would love to meet you! On Tuesdays, we often invite families to come visit. You can meet the teachers, check out the facilities and get a taste for the Magnolia Forest School experience. Schedule your visit today!

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Request enrollment information

Forest school can be the perfect fit for so many children because it is uniquely tailored to support their strengths and interests. We look forward to connecting with you and your child further. We are happy to answer any questions you may have and hope to see you in the forest soon!

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