Our Forest Kindergarten & Preschool provides 4 through 6 year olds with a unique, place-based, child-led learning experience. Our program runs outdoors, October through June, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 am to 3 pm. Families have the option to enroll in both days or just one.
Children arrive at Zach’s Farm and gather in a circle to welcome one another, share gratitude, and prepare for a day outside. The group then has time for snacks and a story before heading down into the woods for nature exploration, forest play, and nature-based games, skills, and crafts. Key curricular components include seasonal awareness, fire-making, navigation, wildlife tracking, birding and shelter-building. While we incorporate components of structured curriculum, our days at Acorn Weevils are focused on child-led, forest play. We value this time where children are free to play, connect with the land, develop motor skills, engage in moderate risks, and practice and imitate learned skills. Forest play allows us to honor children’s need to enjoy unstructured time and to foster personal agency, independence, and social learning. During forest play, the Acorn Weevils Forest Kindergarten kids are exposed to the joys of intimate connection to nature and finding their place in a community of peers and mentors. They have incredible moments of resiliency, courage, pride and beauty. This unique early childhood experience is enabled by our small class sizes and teacher-student ratios of 1:6.
While a full day in the forest can seem like a long time for children this age, this time allows for invaluable opportunities to learn about their energy and needs at different times of day. The full day also invites children to dive deeper into projects, adventure further to new places, and immerse themselves completely in the lessons that the forest presents. Spending full days on the same patch of woodlands and fields throughout three seasons, also fosters a deep connection to and respect for the land.
There are moments of intense joy and others of overwhelming emotion during this program. We ask a lot of the children. We teach them to monitor and meet their individual needs. Acorn Weevils are coached not only to help themselves but to support their peers. They take care of their gear and pack things up themselves, carrying their backpacks throughout the woods, on – and off – trail. Variable New England weather, mosquitoes, unfamiliar forest, and being away from their daily caretakers are all challenges that Weevils face frequently. All of this amounts to a very different experience than they may have ever had before. We are privileged to be a part of their growth and learning in a loving environment and to witness them emerge even more resilient children!
In order to be enrolled in our program you must submit an application and we will determine, based on eligibility and availability, if your child will be offered a spot. There is a $100.00 non-refundable fee to apply. If you are offered a spot this fee will be applied to your tuition. Applications will be reviewed in the order they are received. We will reach out to you within 30 days of registration to schedule a phone call and determine admittance. Priority may be given to returning families and to families we find to be a good match for Acorn Weevils. When you are offered a spot, we ask that you pay 10% of tuition within 7 days to secure your enrollemnt. Please note that our intention behind an application process is to ensure that we have the resources to support your family and to determine if your family is the right fit for our unique program. The results of our application are meant to give us a glimpse into the child’s development and do not solely determine admittance. Please understand, applying does not guarantee a spot in our program.
Children at Acorn Weevils will only have access to a “forest bathroom,” or outhouse. Children must be comfortable with using this bathroom or toileting in the woods. Children must be fully toilet trained at the time of applying to our program. Toilet trained means that children can use the toilet independently, (pulling pants and underwear down, wiping if needed, pulling underwear and pants up), are aware of their bodies need to use the bathroom during all activities, and can communicate with an adult that they need to use the bathroom. Due to the nature of Acorn Weevils, children who are not toilet trained and regularly have accidents may be removed from Acorn Weevils.
We have worked hard to make applying for financial aid as simple as possible. We offer tuition discounts of 25% and 50% which can be self-selected during registration. If your family needs more than 50%, please select the lower tuition and provide details to us in the financial aid section. We do everything we can not to turn families away, so please ask for what you need. Requests made for aid during registration are reviewed monthly. Should we not be able to fulfill your request, we will provide a full refund of monies paid and your deposit. Unfortunately, we cannot extend financial aid for more than one session to a single family member. If you have questions about the process or want to provide more information about your application, please call our office at 207-361-1911.
One of the most wonderful things about the outdoors is that nature is an equalizer. Many of the children who participate in our programs have IEPs and thrive at White Pine Programs. It is very helpful when families share these plans with us so that we can communicate with teachers, counselors and parents/guardians about accommodations. If, during the school year, your child has a one on one aid, please call Program Director Todd DuPont at 207-361-1911, prior to registering.
Due to the nature of our program, we operate outside in all weather and our students must have adequate gear to stay warm and dry. On cold or rainy days we have access to a canvas wall tent and a small cabin, both, with a wood stove. Please consult our provided gear list.
Please review our parent handbook before applying: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1EhX0WQN-2yGhr3lHgDYBRBayT5TL9GpH/view?usp=sharing
Nov – Dec: Send along an article of blaze orange to wear. We wear blaze orange during hunting season- no matter the location.
Tuesdays: 10/4, 10/11, 10/18, 10/25, (11/1 Half-Day), 11/8, 11/15, 11/29, 12/6, 12/13, 1/10, 1/17, 1/24, (1/31 Half-Day), 2/7, 2/14, 3/7, 3/14, 3/21, 3/28, 4/4, 4/ 11, 5/2, 5/9 , (5/16 Half-Day), 5/23, 5/30, 6/6, (6/13 Makeup Week)
Thursdays: 10/6, 10/13, 10/20, 10/27, 11/3, (11/10 Half-Day), 11/17, 12/1, 12/8, 12/15, 1/12, 1/19, 1/26, 2/2, (2/9 Half-Day), 2/16, 3/9, 3/16, 3/23, 3/30, 4/6, 4/13, 5/4, 5/11, 5/18, (5/25 Half-Day), 6/1, 6/8, (6/15 Makeup Week)
Please review our health and safety protocols for this upcoming program year as they relate to Covid-19: https://whitepineprograms.org/covid-19/.