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.
We expect to have 15-20 kids each day.
Yes, there is a covered pavilion we will have access to anytime which has a furnace (that closes to keep us safe and warm).
Yes, there are bathroom facilities with (warm) running water and some child-size toilets.
Our program is a mixed-age program (ages 2.5 – 6) 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.
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 11:30 am. Water for hydration and warm drinks are allowed anytime. We ask that each family contribute once a week enough snack food (WHOLE FRESH FRUIT ONLY) for about 4 children (WHOLE small apples, bananas, pears, and oranges are ideal). Please no popcorn, fruit snacks, cut fruit, cereal, chips, or pretzels. Thanks!
On Wednesdays, Brandyn teaches a Music Together™ class. Each family will receive a Music Together CD and songbook for both the Fall and Spring Collections. Music is integrated in our play, discoveries and surprises each day. All the teachers and kids sing whenever and wherever the mood strikes us! This is often at transition times like as we “hike” into the woods, wash our hands for snack or lunch, or walk down to 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.
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? Despite the acrobatics and the risks it looks like the children are taking, we assure you this is a safe place where there have not been injuries more serious than a hug and a band aid or a piece of ice hasn’t sufficed as treatment. 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.
Additional safety protocols:
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.
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!