The Forest School

At Prairie School of DuPage

We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole.
— Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods
The Forest School

Ages 3-6

Program Options
5-Day: M-F    3-Day: M,W,F    2-Day: T-Th
8:30am - 11:30pm

The Forest School at Prairie School of DuPage is an entirely outdoor mixed-age early childhood program. The Forest School follows the Forest Kindergarten approach, based on the German model of Waldkindergartens, distinguished by its commitment to full nature immersion, interest led learning, emergent curriculum, place based focus, inquiry-based teaching style and authentic play.

Nature immersion is defined as unstructured free time in nature. Meaning, rain or shine, students are outside for their entire class session. The forest, prairie, wetlands and trails become the classroom. Children’s interests and actions, as well as the environment, shape the activities each day. One day might find the children hiking, building forts and climbing trees, while another day brings opportunities for water and mud play, tending to the forest garden or creating a work of art. Teachers’ roles are as mentors and guides, actively modeling curiosity and engagement in nature while allowing children’s interests to lead the day.

The Forest School recognizes the importance of unstructured free time in nature, especially for young children. Being outside encourages imaginative play, creativity, hand-eye coordination, balance, physical strength and mental clarity. When children’s natural curiosity is encouraged, learning flows organically from stimuli encountered in the outdoors. The ever changing landscape of Prairie School of DuPage’s 42 acre campus provides endless opportunities for curiosities to be piqued, and for learning and discoveries to be made.