The fall 2007 saw the opening of the new Forest School in South Gillies, Ontario. The dream of a place where children can learn in ways that are exciting, fun, hands-on and inspiring is what gave rise to the Forest School. This dream is of an environment where children feel valued and respected, are a part of a community that supports their uniqueness, that is gentle and kind, that feeds their curiosity and love of learning, and that helps develop their self confidence and self reliance and so— with much support, potlucks, ideas and the helping hands of many --THE FOREST SCHOOL.
The Forest School is an alternative learning centre that believes learning can be a wondrous adventure, and that people learn best by doing. The programs offered are hands-on, and experiential in nature. They combine freedom with form and take place both indoors and outdoors. The Forest School facilitates learning opportunities that suit the developmental age of the students-- valuing play, exploration, creative expression and naturally including things like numeracy and literacy. The classes are mixed age and small in size. There is no testing or grading.
The Forest School curriculm is loosely based on Waldof Philosophy. It is largely directed by the children's interests and what is going on in their lives and that of the natural environment. It is grounded in a desire to nurture peaceful, creative, intelligent people with an ethic of environmentaly and social responsibility.
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The Students of the Forest School are many things - creative and imaginative, caring and compassionate, independent, willful, intelligent and inspiring. Each brings with them a unique view of the world. All are searching to learn, to be heard and understood, and to define their place in the natural order of things.
The Families of the Forest School are an eclectic collection of people who are looking for learning alternatives. Many are home schooling families, and some are attending the Forest School as a means of augmenting their children’s public school experiences.
The Staff of the Forest School share a love of children, a passion for their work and a faith in human potential. The staff comes with varied educational backgrounds and life experiences. They guide and support learners in exploring their interests; initiate interesting quests and invite students to come along, and arrange opportunities for play, discovery, adventure and “do-ing”.
The Facilitators of The Forest School are community members, parents, professionals, experienced educators and each other. The school values the knowledge and experiences of everyone.
The Forest School is located at 413 Palisades Road, South Gillies. The indoor space is full of light and air, is roomy and comfy and has an earthy and magical feel to it. The outdoor space is 130 acres with a pond, a field and forest all around. There is plenty of room for exploring, climbing, crawling, smelling, getting dirty … Although the forest is full of natural beauty and magical spots, we have dreams of debris huts, tree houses and other wonderful meeting places.
A Day In The Life…
The typical day at the Forest School begins outside with time for building, exploring, running and helping with daily life and chores around the Forest School. After our morning sun salutations we spend time in our individual sit spots (special places in the forest), where we spend time connecting with the earth and ourselves. We then head inside for a communal snack, followed by our circle time, which involves activities and learning centered on the day’s theme as well as time for a story. Creative play follows, where the children transform the space and themselves into everything imaginable. There are organized art activities and ongoing art projects that the children may choose to work on. After our lunch, folks head off for their quiet time. Some may work on journals, others may read or make puzzles. As this winds down (and the kids wind up), we again head outside for our days adventure. We spend time learning about the rhythms and life found in the natural world. We explore, discover and definitely get dirty. The last part of the day is spent inside following up with the day’s theme (either doing art, movement, completing projects etc) or engaging in specific sessional classes. E.g. games from around the world, gardening, moon journals etc. After our closing circle, kids gear up and head outside to meet their parents.
Finding your Way
The forest schol is approximately 45 minutes from Thunder Bay.
Take Hwy #61 to Hwy #608 South Gillies. turn right onto Hwy #608
and continue to the end. Turn left on Hwy #595 (you are at
South Gillies), and then take your first right onto Pallisades Road.
The Forest School is at fire number 413 (approximately 4km down
Palisades). The driveway is 3/4 km long. Keep on the left road and
you will find yourself at the Forest School.