Field, Farm and Forest has resumed its nature-based programs for children and families at its new location in Newark. In a large and lush old forest, in rippling streams, and in grassy fields dotted with apple trees, children are given the opportunity to learn about nature and themselves through play, exploration, and inquiry.
"Children need more time to just be in a natural environment", says Kristen Langlais, one of the founders of this organization. "It's good for their self-confidence, for building brain connections through movement, and for learning how to get along with others socially. Using an emergent curriculum approach and allowing kids to freely play outside helps kids gain cognitive skills as well as a better sense of place."
FFF will offer several programs for children and families. Its "Forest Kindergarten" program for 3-6 year olds, called the "Kinglets", is based on the "Waldkindergarten" model of education, which is immensely popular overseas but is just starting to become more common here in the US. Children spend most of their time outside, their play and interests guide their days, and art, literature, music, and math skills are incorporated into their experiences. It's an alternative to traditional preschools which are often teacher-led and primarily indoors. This fall, FFF will receive its early childhood program license and will be able to offer full- and part-time care for children. Until then, its Forest Kindergarten program will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
FFF will also offer a "Hummingbirds" parent-child playgroup for 2-4 year olds as well as a "Timberdoodles" nature immersion program for 5-7 year olds. Both of these will include a Waldorf-inspired circle of songs, seasonal poems, movement, storytelling, and foreign language.
FFF has other plans to add in art and nature-oriented workshops for older children, educators, and parents, as well as chances for families to gather for seasonal festivals and music-making. To learn more about how FFF is striving to foster community in the NEK through nature play and place-based education, visit fieldfarmandforest.wordpress.com or find them on Facebook.