Is Forest Friends a licensed preschool?
Forest Friends is currently operating as a license-exempt pilot program through MA EEC. We have begun the process of pursuing licensure for the Forest Friends program and anticipate the process to be complete by the Fall of 2021.
Will there be rolling admissions?
Yes, we will accept applications on a rolling basis.
My child will continue developing from the time of the interview until the program starts in September. Will you take this into account?
Absolutely! We recognize how much growth can take place in such a short amount of time, especially at these young ages. Our experienced educators will take that into account at the time of the interview. The interview serves to benefit everyone involved–we simply want to make sure that you, your child and our educators agree that it’s a good fit.
Do you have to re-enter the lottery each year?
Once you enroll in the program, your child’s spot will be reserved until your child ages out of the program.
Will you give siblings priority in enrollment?
Yes. If your family is drawn in the lottery, we welcome all eligible children to interview for the program. As siblings age into the program, they will also be given priority as long as the other sibling is still enrolled in the program.
How involved will families be?
The level of family involvement is yet to be determined and will depend on a few factors including our teachers and the amount of family interest in being involved with the program, but it is likely that there will be some opportunity for involvement.
Will there be "extended day" care available?
For this first year of the Forest Friends we will not be offering extended day care. Depending on staffing, we may consider offering this in subsequent years.
Will this program prepare my child for education in a traditional school?
Yes! The intention of programs like ours is to equip students with the tools necessary to continue their education. In addition to forming critical cognitive, social, and emotional skills, students will also develop their curiosity and interest in learning. Research shows that forest schools prepare students as well as (and sometimes better than) traditional schools (Kuo et al., 2019).
How do you keep the kids from wandering off?
Having a small class size of 12 students ensures that our two experienced teachers and two interns are able to keep an eye on the kids at all times. Additionally, staff will create clear policies for the group to ensure that students stay together. While we want to allow our students to have space to explore and discover independently, we will always make sure that they are safe and nearby.
How will you address ticks?
The Forest Friends staff will develop a protocol to try to prevent tick bites and exposure as much as is possible. However, if a tick is embedded in the skin, staff will not remove it but will immediately notify the student’s family to remove the tick.
Will the mixed-age groups present issues between the older and younger students?
Inclusion is incredibly important to all of us at Wright-Locke Farm. The Forest Friends staff will make sure all students feel welcomed, included, and accepted in our class. We believe that the mixed-age groups are beneficial as the students are able to learn from each other, interact with children of other ages, and practice inclusion every day. In fact, research suggests that mixed-age classrooms have lower rates of social isolation than same-age classrooms (McClellan & Kinsey, 1997). The staff seeks to intentionally create a team-like atmosphere for the class, full of sharing and healthy interdependence and free from cliques.
What’s an example of a healthy and hearty snack?
Each day, the students will help prepare a nutritious snack for the group to enjoy. We will use this opportunity to model healthy, seasonal eating, using largely fruits, vegetables and whole grains, as well as our own farm produce whenever possible. Examples of these snacks include soups, fresh fruits and vegetables, oatmeal, homemade granola and dried fruits, and homemade bread.
How involved will the students be in farm operations?
Each morning, the class will begin by completing chicken chores! This includes collecting the chickens’ eggs, cleaning nesting boxes, and providing food and water for the chickens. Being so close to the farm property affords the class opportunities to explore various aspects of the farm, experience the changes in seasons, and participate in farm activities throughout the year.
If you have additional questions about Forest Friends, please contact FarmEd@wlfarm.org.