Kindergarten Enrolment information
The aim of Forest Kindergarten is to create a stimulating and friendly environment where staff and volunteers assist with a child's development in the unique woodland environment at Toy's Hill.
Kit ListA warm and dry child is a happy child! Please provide your child with for the following, with their name in:
- Rucksack, with side pockets, and waterproof cover. Deuter/ jack wolfskin are excellent quality. Pack with: plastic bag containing lightweight change of clothes - socks, pants, trousers, longsleeved top, spare fleece and gloves, spare plastic bag; packed lunch, water bottle, tissues and wipes at sides.
- Thermal base layer - leggings, not tights!, long sleeve top and thick socks. (ideally polyester/merino not cotton as this holds moisture)
- Second long sleeve top
- 1-2 warm fleece/wool jumper.
- Cosy trousers i.e tracksuit pants, fleece leggings (NOT jeans).
- Two pairs of mittens (age2-3s), gloves age 4+. One size fits all 'magic gloves' work well. (One waterproof pair if preferred).
- Warm hat and fleece snood (these are very warm!)
- Neoprene or fleece lined wellies, or waterproof walking boots. (www.warmwellies.co.uk)
- Long trousers and top (these are still necessary to prevent scratches and stings)
- Jumper (as it can be cool at the beginning of the day)
- Suncream (please apply at home)
- If you feel your child needs insect repellent please apply in advance.
Waterproof trousers and jacket: Waterproof trousers, or dungarees. It is important that even in dry weather your child still has their waterproofs as this enables them to play in puddles, mud and sit on damp ground etc. They also protect from scratches and prickles!
Where to purchase
- Danish outdoor gear:'Lark', St John's Rd, Sevenoaks (waterproofs and thermal boots). Mention 'Forest Kindergarten' for a 10% discount.
- Decathlon - stocks a large range of good value children's outdoors and waterproof gear.
- Online: www.raindrops.co.uk www.rukka.com Polarno Pyret, Togz, 'Abeko
Collection & Drop off Park in Toy's Hill car park and meet us in the woodland next to it between 9am-930am on kindergarten days, or at the start time for holiday/tots sessions.
Daily Routine During each session we shall usually begin by meeting at the log circle for songs and circle time. Then we will spend most of our time playing and exploring the woods. Staff will also model activities for children to join in with at their will. We will take shelter under the parachute if needed, and we have a selection of books, and hammocks for children to rest in.
CurriculumCommunication and Language , Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development Mathematics, Understanding of the World , Literacy & Expressive Arts and Design
Our activities cover the 7 areas of learning from the Early Years curriculum through:
- Nature exploration and connection through digging, creating, collecting and observing the changing seasons
- Opportunities for cooking
- Making crafts, painting and moulding with clay, mud and natural materials
- Construction tools
- Opportunities for mathematics, and understanding of the world through natural materials
- Books available and comfortable places to nap in the hammocks.
- Physical activities: exploring the woodland, tree climbing, rope swings, den building, seesaws
- Music games, singing and rhymes
- Circle time, and daily reflection time.
Snack time We provide a midmorning snack each session, where children can choose from either fruit, or oatcakes. We also sometimes cook on the fire, or have a hot drink.
- Provide children, staff and parents closeness and freedom with nature, deepening the exploration and connection with self and the environment.
- Create a positive ethos that is reflected in all interactions with one another and the environment, supporting and cultivating respect for the world and others, through mindfulness and compassion.
- Offer a spacious, challenging, creative play and learning environment
- Support the development of the individual and creative expression
- Support and develop the capacity for each child to experience and be at ease with self-driven learning and exploration
- Nurture the child's full potential in conversations and interactions
- Develop the capacity for children and staff to work and play as a team
- Support and develop staff understanding in forest schools and the early years foundation stage
- Cultivate positive relationships within the immediate and larger community
- Promote health and wellbeing through physical and emotional resilience, healthy eating, healthy minds This is achieved by encouraging:
- active and reflective time outdoors with the opportunity to look, listen, touch, smell and taste all that nature offers
- free and independent play
- investigative play to foster an attitude of open enquiry and active learning
- positive and co-operative play The Forest Kindergarten is fully committed to promoting children's rights, notably their right to be protected from harm, abuse and exploitation and to be involved in any decisions that directly affect them. The Forest Kindergarten has a duty of care to implement effective policies and procedures for safeguarding the welfare of children and young people. In order to achieve this we will ensure all our staff and volunteers:
- are carefully selected, screened, trained and supervised and will be kept up to date with Child Safeguarding training.
- receive first aid training appropriate to the outdoor environment
- are aware of health and safety issues relating to child care and activities in the outdoor environment
- develop positive behaviour management skills in order that the children feel safe, secure and know that they can rely on being cared for in a fair, non-judgmental way, where feelings expressed are acknowledged and taken seriously.
- encourage children to express their ideas and views on a wide range of issues.
Policies - see here We also operate an "open door" policy, where the staff are always willing to discuss your child's progress or concerns in confidence.
Funded places and Fees15 hours of government funded (subsidised) places are available for all children, and can be shared with a second setting. To register, please complete the funding form on application. This funding provides just £4/hr/child. As it costs us £6/hr to run, we therefore also send an optional termly fee to cover this difference, and to ensure we can pay a 'living wage'. An invoice for additional hours will be sent at the beginning of the term, of £6 per hour. Notice period- please give one half-term's notice in writing if your child will be leaving the setting.
Session times and fees - see here
Deputy Manager Serina Douglass, Forest School trained, qualified primary school teacher, paediatric first aid and designated safeguarding lead trained.
Practitioners: Angie Kalkanis, early years teacher trained, basic safeguarding.
Anna Hewlett, outdoor education & maths teacher trained, First Aid and basic safeguarding trained.
VolunteersLynda Gilbert, previously ran her own nursery; has helped run forest school sessions since June 2013; basic safeguarding training 2013.
Chinatsu Fisher; mother and assistant at forest kindergarten since 2016. Basic safeguarding training 2017.
All staff have cleared enhanced DBS checks.
What do you do when it rains? Play!! Remaining warm and dry is the most important element to create happiness and creative play in all weathers. Whilst the woods themselves afford shelter we also have a parachute shelter over the log and fire circle, and have popup tents at our disposal to provide extra protection. We have a fire at snack time on cold days, and often will have a hot drink.
What about toileting? We have a specified area in the woods where we erect a tarp to offer shelter and privacy for toileting. We compost our waste - offering the children the opportunity to witness the transformational process of poo into roses! Children not used to toileting outside quickly adapt; staff are on hand to assist as needed. We provide handwipes or water, soap and towels for handwashing after toileting and before eating.
How do you help children settle in? You are welcome to first visit to meet staff, ask questions and explore a bit of the woods with your child. Every child is individual; some children just wave goodbye and others find leaving their parent/carer difficult. We want to do what is best for your child, so when your child starts pre-school regularly, if you feel the need to stay, please do so.
Community The kindergarten encourages positive relations with the local community. We have strong communication with Sundridge Primary school, whose Reception and Year 1 classes also have done Forest Schools with us for 3 years, and also invite reception class teachers to us to see children who will be moving on to their primary school. We also often host teachers and students who are interested in the forest kindergarten's practice. We have links with other local schools and the farm, where we visit the lambing in spring. We firmly believe the kindergarten should be an important part of the local area. We also offer professional training in storytelling, mindfulness, and nature connection.
Outings With parents' permission we take children out and around our beautiful surroundings, and on occasional visits to the farmer, eg. During lambing season.
Events Parents and grandparents are warmly welcome to our Easter, summer picnic and Christmas celebration.
Insurance We are covered by Employers Liability and Public Liability Insurance, specifically for forest school activities, up to £10,000,000 (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969.
Registration with Ofsted We are registered for children from the age of 2 years. We have up to 18 children per session, with a minimum ratio of 1:8 children to qualified staff. Our ratios are usually however, 1 staff member to 5 children.
Duty of CareWhilst your child is attending Forest Kindergarten, we have a duty to ensure that s/he is safe at all times. We aim to provide safety for the children that balances the benefit of risk taking, thereby enabling and supporting learning and discovery in the world and self. The outdoor environment is regularly checked to ensure that your child is playing in a safe but interesting environment. We have an ongoing relationship with the National Trust, who regularly manage the woodland to ensure the site is safe. Knowing the local woodland environment well we ensure that the children are safe from hazards.
If you would like further information about Forest Kindergarten, please contact Caroline Watts (07718896919).
Also see Forest School Association website.