Forest Co-Op gives older children an opportunity to break up their homeschool routine for essential outdoor time and play with other children. Child-led learning and play is fostered in the middle to late childhood ages and is the primary focus of Forest Co-Op, but so is learning how to think critically, knowing where to find answers, mastering gross and fine motor skills, and building confidence to let others learn from each unique child.
Our programs support whole-child development through recreational, outdoor, nature-based programming for young children in the context of a youth sports league using “forest school” pedagogy. Please see our philosophy page if you are new to this method of education.
Valley Forest School is a member of the Forest School League.
Enrollment for 2021-2022 begins March 1, 2021.
The first step to enroll at Valley Forest School is to browse our various class offerings to see what is the best fit for your family. If you find a class you're interested in, submit a registration request and we will be in contact with you shortly! This is also where you will find tuition rates.
$150 enrollment fee for first year students
$50 re-enrollment fee
($200 family maximum for enrollment fees)
Please visit our clothing requirements page to view items necessary for enrollment in all programs.
A TYPICAL DAY IN THE LIFE OF A FOREST CO-OP STUDENT
Children arrive at 9 am as the morning sun creeps over the tops of the Appalachian Mountains where forest school is perfectly located. As moms and dads give hugs goodbye, kindergarteners merge their first half hour of the day playing freely with all age groups from ages 3-12.
The day is ready to begin as the students follow the "Ca Ca!" bird call of their teacher for a morning circle to start the day with just their class of 12. Morning circle often includes stretching, introducing the theme of the day, observing and discussing the weather, and touching base with one another to see how everyone is doing. After morning circle, co-op students grab their snacks to get fueled and hydrated before loading up their backpacks and heading out on their nature walk. They take a pit stop at our composting toilet before escaping to the forest. Some days nature walks are down a groomed path, other days it is quite literally bushwhacking.
Their teacher is their guide- available to answer their questions, point out interesting observations, encourage creativity, manage risks, and facilitate discussions. After 90 minutes of nature exploring, students find a lunch spot under the canopy of trees to refuel. They leisurely chatter among one another about anything from the type of rock they're sitting on to the challenges of life. While their food digests and their bodies rest, they get lost in their imagination as they listen to their teacher read "living books" such as Heidi or The Secret Lake as they whittle sticks.
By the time the read aloud is over, the students are ready to get moving again and spend the midafternoon hour moving into camp-style games that continue to exercise the body and mind while also strengthening friendships. The last part of their day is spent creatively transferring their thoughts onto paper through nature journaling pictures and/or words to describe the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings from the day. An afternoon circle time wraps up the day as students share their "rose" and their "thorn" from their adventures. Parents arrive at 2:30 for pick up- just in time to rest and tell mom or dad all about their adventures on the drive through the mountains towards home.