What is the educational philosophy at Wild Child Association?
The Forest School philosophy of Wild Child Association is based on the Coyote’s Guide. This guide is used in the Eastern Regional Association of Forest and Nature (ERAFANS) Nature Teacher Certification Training, which all our Forest Guides complete within six months of becoming employed with us.
The Coyote’s Way is a method of teaching that complements the immersive outdoor experiences we offer our young students. Guides utilize observation and open-ended questions to identify each child’s interests and individual limitations of knowledge. Guides build confidence by ensuring most questions can be easily answered by their mentees, including one or two “stretch-questions” that lead each child toward deeper understanding. The main role of our guides is to cultivate a child’s natural interest, spark curiosity, and guide organic learning. Our philosophy is a one-on-one, individually tailored curriculum that requires mutual respect, trust and a strong relationship between each guide and mentee. For this reason we maintain a low child to guide ratio.
Will my child learn their colors, shapes, ABCs, and 123s at Wild Child?
What your child learns will ultimately be a function of their own interests as our philosophy does not advocate forced learning or rote memorization. Your child will, however, be exposed to the traditional elements of preschool education on a daily basis.
During our sessions in the forest school, these basic preschool skills will naturally emerge. The forest guide is always asking questions to encourage the children to carefully observe and describe the world around them. These description words come out in the form of colors, shapes, numbers, letters, sizes, textures, smells, sounds and even tastes. Imagine a ladybug beetle landing on the shoulder of a little one. The teacher might say something like, 'Wow! How beautiful? What colors do you see? Can you count the spots? I wonder if it has any legs, hmm, let's look. I see legs! How many do you see? Who wants to touch the ladybug beetle? May we touch you ladybug? Let's use our gentle touch, one at a time. Great job taking turns and showing the ladybug your respect! What do you think she was doing before she landed on you? I bet she is ready to go back home, do you think so too? Let's find a good spot to put her before we keep on hiking.'
In that short experience, the children have been exposed to numbers, colors, texture, respect and care for nature, turn taking, listening to one another, expressing their thoughts, and much more. Not only will your little one be familiar with the ABCs and 123s, but they will be building upon socio-emotional skills that are equally, if not more, important 'preschool' skills. These skills include playing with one another, taking turns, listening to one another, imaginative play, kindness, empathy and care.
What are your COVID-19 Policies and Procedures
At Wild Child Association we take COVID-19 very seriously, but we also recognize the psychological damage that may accompany a culture of fear. We require all eligible, adult household members to be COVID-19 vaccinated before their child can join our program unless there is a medical contraindication. Our program has been arranged to be outdoor as much as possible, even sleeping in spaced hammocks during naptime, to minimize the chance of not only COVID infection but also the colds and flus that are so common at childcare centers. We do not require outdoor masking of our staff or students, but will enforce parental requests that a child remains masked. A child exhibiting symptoms associated with COVID-19 will be sent home immediately and all parents notified. As a private club we are not subject to state mandated shutdowns and will allow parents to make the decisions they deem most appropriate for their child. We have chosen to operate on a monthly schedule instead of by term to allow for disenrollment at any time, in part because the COVID situation is constantly changing.
What precautions are taken to ensure my child is safe?
At Wild Child Association, safety is weighed against the potential gains of an activity. Our trained guides have significant experience designing and implementing kid-friendly rules that allow for a safe environment without disrupting the benefits of unstructured play in a terrain rich with self-directed challenges for a variety of skill-levels and ages. Children, for example, must drag any stick that is taller than they are. Fallen logs will be weight tested by several full-sized adults before children are allowed to play on them. We are constantly surveying our forest for hazards. We cut down dying trees before they become dangerous. We identify hazardous plants and either teach the children about them or remove them, depending on the level of risk.
Our low ratio ensures that children are always appropriately supervised, even while feeling that they have been given free reign. Finally, our Forest kids are taught to look out for one another from day one. They are trained in when and how to signal to an adult that they have identified a potential hazard or danger. By a few weeks into their time with us, our Forest children become a second line of defense for each other.