The Santa Cruz Forest School
The Santa Cruz Forest School

Our Program is modeled after the European Forest Kindergarten.  Children enjoy self-directed free play in the forest and meadow at the NEST in Felton, California.  Forest School children often develop a deeper respect and sense of wonder for our environment while cultivating social emotional skills that form a foundation for learning.  


We meet outside, rain or shine.  We like to schedule field trips to public green spaces when possible. 


2020-21 School Year  


Registrater through Riekes Nature Program:


We will gather as mixed-aged cohorts for children ages 3-6. Siblings are encouraged to attend together when possible.  


We will follow the state health guidelines for "cohorts"  and childcare, which you can learn more about here:

or here:


Our schedule has been altered due to adjustments following the CZU fires.  We are currently working to build a second cohort - Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30 to 2:30pm. 


To hear a pre-pandemic interview with Amanda Bell, director of SCFS, click on the following link.  "Inside Education" begins at the 2 minute mark.


Daily Rhythm: 

Drop-off and pick-up procedures will be communicated clearly to each family and will include social distancing, masks, temperature checks and reduced adult face-to-face contact. Drop off is from 9:00-9:30, pickup at 2:15.


Once everyone has arrived, we'll hike to where we'll spend our day exploring.  During welcome circle we have song and dance, story telling, feeling sharing, announcements and safety agreements.  Afterwards we play and explore until we're hungry, at which time we gather for a meal. 


We will have regular times throughout the day to wash our hands, including before and after eating.  Each child brings their own food and is not permitted to share or exchange food.  The picnic blankets are stored away for awhile, so we will sit on the ground with a large cloth napkin or bandana brought from home to serve as a table cloth.  Everyone will be spaced 6 feet apart while we eat and share in conversation.  Sometimes we share books or stories during this time. 


After eating, we clean up and play some more, maybe eat again, then finish the day with expressions of gratitude and a final hand-washing.  We hike back to the parking lot to meet our parents and care-takers.  Adults stay socially distant and wear masks and children are delivered to them with a contactless sign out procedure. 


Light integration of materials such as yarn for crafting, nature journals for story dictation and drawing, drums and sound makers, etc., is often available during free play.  If your child enjoys writing or drawing, you may send a small notebook and pencil or crayons for their personal use. No other toys are permitted unless the agreement is made with the parent that the item will stay in the backpack. 


Each day varies according to the lead and interests of the children.  We may climb and build, craft from what nature offers us, learn to "whittle" a stick using a peeler tool, learn about plants and mushrooms, insects and lizards, salamanders in the winter if we're lucky; we shoot canons from pirate ships and build dinosaur museums in Redwood circles, we play hide and seek in the forest, stomp our feet into puddles, dig holes in the duff, sword fight with sticks, as long as we're mindful, and turn over stumps.  We're careful with our friends bodies and feelings, as well as the  tiniest ants and spiders.   


Registrater through Riekes Nature Program:


School Holidays: 

Labor Day: September 7th

Fall Break: Nov. 25-27
Winter Break: Dec. 21-Jan. 1

MLK: Jan. 18

President's day: Feb. 15
Spring break: April 5-9


Last Day of School:  Thursday, May 27th, 2021


We maintain a 1:5 teacher/student ratio to ensure quality care for your child as they explore the outdoors. 


Enrollment Requirements:

• 36 months old or older by the first day of forest school
• Toilet trained by the start of forest school. Unlike traditional indoor programs, your child will frequently be sorting through many layers of clothing before going to the bathroom.  The ability to know and regulate toileting is therefore a necessity. 
• Your child must be prepared (and want!) to be outside rain or shine, cool or warm. 


Clothing Suggestions:
• Comfortable, warm and waterproof footwear
• Loose fitting clothing that can get muddy and dirty
• Waterproof rain pants, rain jacket, boots 
• During cold weather: hat, mittens, long-underwear (no cotton), fleece or down jacket, wool socks. 

Print Print | Sitemap
© The Santa Cruz Forest School