Audubon Forest Preschool is a half-day drop-off program for children ages 3 to 5 based at the Green Mountain Audubon Center in Huntington, Vermont. Our goal is to provide a place where children can explore a natural area and further develop their connection to the great outdoors.
During our 3 hour session we spend time at our forest base-camp, our special spot in the woods. The forest camp serves as a home base for tracking the seasonal rhythms of nature and developing a strong connection to the plants and animals that share this home with us. The forest camp will also serve as the launching pad for further explorations across the landscape; the 252 acres of the Green Mountain Audubon Center give us access to beaver ponds, meadows, sugarbush, hemlock swamp, brook and river all within easy reach during our program.
The Forest Preschool program seeks to develop the innate bond between children and the natural world by providing a landscape to play, explore, and use all of our senses. Our teachers act as role models and guides: they share in the children’s curiosity, ask questions, inspire with stories, and embody empathy towards all living things.
We operate with the following goals and guiding principles:
- Maximize outdoors time: We aim to spend all of our time outdoors and will only head inside in the case of severe and/or unsafe weather conditions. We expect children to come prepared with warm and waterproof clothing, and we will develop skills of self-care to stay warm and comfortable. Our goal is to make kids comfortable in all types of weather.
- Learn through play: Forest Preschool will offer ample opportunities for free and imaginative play, starting upon arrival where children will be greeted with an assortment of items to build, dig, stack, mix, share, and more. Games and spontaneous play will be woven throughout each day.
- Plan for spontaneity: Our teachers will be ready with a theme, story, and activity of the day planned out, but we won’t hesitate to adjust those plans as natural learning opportunities emerge and steer us in other directions. We take our cue from nature and from the interests of each child in our inquiry-based teaching approach.
- Take healthy risks: Children will develop confidence and an ability to calculate risk for themselves by exploring healthy risks at Forest Preschool. This could mean climbing a rock or balancing on a log, for example. Our staff is trained to supervise and support children in these activities, ensuring safety and steering children away from potentially harmful hazards.