Frequently Asked Questions
Mindful Forest School is unique in that it offers preschoolers and elementary aged children an opportunity for imaginative play, the development of mindfulness and awareness, and outdoor exploration, which naturally enhances creativity, hand-eye coordination, balance, physical strength and mental clarity. Here are some answers to some questions you might have about our Forest School:
What types of training are staff required to have?
At Mindful Forest School, it is important to us that your children’s teachers have exceptional training in supervising children outdoors, and supporting their development. Not only are our staff members required to have CPR/First Aid for adults, children, and babies, food handlers permits, there is also a thorough training completed on safety and risk taking, positive interactions with children, mindfulness, problem solving, supported imaginative play, and child-led learning.
Do parents stay and participate?
Parents are encouraged to stay for 30 minutes of a child’s first day. Otherwise, parents are not required to stay and participate. Parents have the opportunity to schedule visits and stay for the duration if interested.
Is there lunch/snack served?
We provide a healthy snack at the beginning of the day of vegan, and gluten free snacks. We require children to bring a large snack or sack lunch in their backpacks daily for lunchtime.
What am I required to have in my child’s backpack each day?
Every child is required to carry a backpack with a sack lunch, water bottle (warm water in winter), and a change of clothing.
Are all the classes held at public parks?
Not always. Each group will have their own location for drop-off, and these are located along the Wasatch Front. Please ask about your child's group and where their outdoor classroom is located.
What about the weather? What do you do when it’s snowy or rainy?
We believe in the motto: There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing choices. Snowy and rainy days can be some of the most exhilarating and fun days! There are, of course, days where we hold our preschool inside, or under a covered area, when the weather and/or temperature are extreme.
Do you have curriculum?
Mindful Forest School is purely child-led that loosely follows State guidelines and allows each child to develop their own individuality and self, acquire valuable life skills, and to establish a skill set that supports kindergarten readiness.
What subjects are taught at Mindful Forest School?
The program will be predominantly child-led play, but also includes some mildly structured activities: Counting, numbers, shapes, story books, songs and nursery rhymes, local plants and animals, seasons and the cycles of nature, group games, expression through arts and crafts, and more!
Gross Motor Skills: Climbing, hiking, jumping, running (Please let us know if your child shows interest of subjects at home that may be implemented into lessons at school. We love the connection between home and school!)
Fine Motor Skills: picking up small object and observing them, gluing, coloring, painting, zipping and clipping their backpack and lunch bag, opening and closing their water bottle, turning pages of books, and more.
Will this prepare my child for kindergarten?
A Forest Preschool gives a child an opportunity to develop many skills in preparation for Kindergarten. Some of these skills include problem-solving, critical thinking, divergent thinking, love of learning, creativity, imagination, willingness to take appropriate risk, peer communication, emotional resilience, high perseverance, low frustration levels, teamwork, and cooperation. We believe that if children are given what they need at ages 2, 3 and 4, they will naturally be prepared for what is to come at 5, 6, and 7.
How does this compare to other preschools?
Not only do we mildly integrate lessons on numbers, letters, nursery rhymes, we also share lessons on natural concepts about the earth, human interactions, basic life skills. These life skills will build a foundation of cognitive skills, social and emotional awareness.
Why should I choose your program over other nature schools or preschools?
We are completely outdoors and focus on individual child development. We have a specialized training created by our Director for staff to lead and guide your child in a kind, caring, confidence building, mindfully supportive environment that will help your child flourish in social interactions, and further their success in academics.
What does unstructured imaginative play mean?
Children play freely and work together without overbearing adult involvement. This is where the magic truly happens in exploration of imagination. It’s amazing to watch children play together as they create their own worlds of wonder, decide and delegate roles, problem solve, create their own rules, and choose for themselves.
Does Mindful Forest School follow a school district calendar?
YES! For your convenience, our Forest Preschool follows the Salt Lake City school district calendar for holidays, seasonal breaks, and school closures. Please see the Handbook for Parents for other information regarding potential closures.
What is the teacher to child ratio?
Our teacher to child ratio is 1:4, never exceeding 1:6 which allows us to offer more personalized attention to each child’s development, without hovering supervision.
Does my child need to be Potty Trained?
Yes, please! We are unable to change diapers during the colder months when the ground is wet and cold.
Where will my child use the bathroom?
At Mindful Forest School, we teach proper outdoor toileting techniques. We have an area specific for elimination in a privately designated area. We have a toileting system of carrying out solid waste, and the use of gloves, wipes, and hand sanitizer is always used. We teach the children that it isn’t always allowed to eliminate outdoors, but at our Forest School, it is okay.
If issues arise between two or more children, how are these situations handled? What if another child becomes aggressive, how will that be handled?
Preschool aged children are in the process of learning social and emotional skills. When children have an issue that arises and they cannot resolve it on their own, teachers will lovingly step in to support the children come up with their own resolutions. If a child becomes aggressive, a teacher will calmly and gently remove the child from the situation and will process their feelings, encourage their own ideas on how to resolve and repair, and will offer tips on how to handle a situation differently in the case it comes up again.
TEACHERS ENCOURAGE CHILDREN TO EXPRESS THEIR EMOTIONS WITH WORDS.
This is a skill that takes practice, practice, practice, reminders from grownups, and support in their emotional regulation. As teachers are always aware of the children, they will offer gentle reminders such as, “use your words,” “tell him/her how you are feeling,” or they will offer input on their observations, such as, “you seem to be feeling frustrated, I can help” “your face is telling me that you are feeling sad, may I sit with you?”
Please contact us with any other questions you may have. Thank you!