Devon Forest Kindergarten

Welcome to Devon Forest Kindergarten at Children of the Forest: A Forest School Outdoor Kindergarten for children aged 3-6

Our aim is to deliver the highest quality of care and education in a unique outdoor setting, giving your child the chance to grow and learn in nature.

This prospectus aims to provide you with an introduction to Devon Forest Kindergarten, our routines, our approach to supporting your child’s learning and development and how we aim to work together with you to best meet your child’s individual needs. This should be read alongside our Childcare Terms and Conditions for a full description of our services.


About Us

Lewis Ames and Gemma Southerden are both former teachers who have gone into business together to focus on what they are passionate about: giving children and families meaningful learning and play experiences, in the great outdoors. Since becoming qualified Forest School Leaders, and starting with a few small groups, Children of the Forest is now a well-loved part of the Mid Devon community.


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What do we do?

We run forest school sessions in our beautiful, private 3 acres of Gaddon Woods near Uffculme. We run three weekly toddler groups, a Saturday morning club and holiday clubs for 6-12 year olds, and monthly events for families. Activities include campfire cooking, nature learning, natural crafts, shelter building, fire lighting, woodwork and tool use and much more. In our sessions, children can explore and follow their own learning journeys, supported by qualified teachers and forest school leaders. Our mission is to give children real skills, real freedom in their play, and reconnect families with nature.


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Our Setting

Devon Kindergarten HQ is a separate, fenced off section of our main woodland site, specifically for the use of our young kindergarten children. Our setting allows children to play outdoors in all weathers, experiencing the natural world and exploring through the seasons. We have lots of large shelters in case of rain, and a cosy bender shelter with books and blankets for children to use whenever they like.

You may notice that we don’t have a lot of the usual ‘toys’ that you will see at an indoor nursery. What you will see are things like spades for digging, bug hunting kits, ‘loose parts’ such as string, clay, wood and lots of tools for children to make their own toys, whether that be designing and building their own see saw or sawing and decorating a gnome doll and its home, all with our support. We believe play should come from the child’s imagination rather than be prescribed by toy manufacturers!


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Hours and Fees

The kindergarten is currently open on Mondays, from 9am-3pm, term time only.

Children attend for the full day. We take children from their 3rd birthday. For those who wish to home school or defer school entry, we take children up to their 6th birthday.

Fees are paid half termly, in advance.

We accept government funded 30 hours and private funded places. 50% of our places are funded. Our hourly rate is £6.

Term dates for 2019/2020:

Summer term starts: Mon 3 June. Last day: Mon 15 July

Autumn term open: Mon 9 Sep - Mon 14 Oct

—CLOSED Mon 21 Oct for half term —

Re-open: Mon 28 Oct - Mon 16 Dec

—CLOSED Mon 23 & Mon 30 Dec for xmas hols —

2020

OPEN: Mon 6 Jan - Mon 10 Feb

——CLOSED Mon 17 Feb & Mon 24 Feb for extended half term break——

OPEN: Mon 2 March - Mon 23 March

—— CLOSED Mon 30 Mar, Mon 6 April & Mon 13 April Easter hols —-

OPEN: Mon 20 April - Mon 27 April

—- CLOSED Mon 4 May bank holiday —-

OPEN: Mon 11 May -Mon 18 May

—-CLOSED Mon 25 May Half term—-

OPEN: Mon 1 June - Mon 13 July

CLOSED Mon 20 July - September for Summer holidays


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Places

In line with our Forest School ethos, we have much higher adult to child ratios than a normal

nursery. We currently have just 10 places for children in the kindergarten.

Our adult to child ratios allow us to:

- give time and attention to each child;

- talk with the children about their interests and activities;

- help children to experience and benefit from the activities we provide; and

- allow the children to explore and be adventurous in safety.


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Staff

Lewis Ames (Director)

Qualified Primary School Teacher

PGCE in Primary Education

BA Hons Music

Level 3 Forest School Leader

Paediatric First Aid

Forest School First Aid

Child Protection & Safeguarding Training

Prevent Duty Trained

Gemma Southerden (Director)

Qualified Teacher (9 years experience)

MA in Teaching

Diploma in Drama

Paediatric First Aid

Forest School First Aid

Child Protection & Safeguarding Training


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Learning and Development

We have a forest school, child-led, play-based ethos, whilst following the

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).

A typical day

No two days are the same in the forest. The child-led play based nature of our setting means that the children’s interests and imaginations lead our planning of activities. However, a typical day will always include music making (Lewis and Gemma play drums and ukulele among other instruments and lead lively singing and dancing sessions!), storytelling, crafts, cooking, games and lots of free play.

A typical day might look like this:

9 - 9.15:

Children arrive and are registered. Settling in activities will already be available.

9.30: Circle time and reminder of our three rules: Look After Yourself, Look After Each Other, Look After the Woods. Free play and opportunity to engage in many activities: play cooking in the mud kitchen, make a wooden toy, build a den, bake bread over the campfire…the possibilities are endless.

10:30: Snacks around the campfire, followed by singing and music making.

11:00: Exploration of the woodland and nature based activities: bird spotting, bug hunting, tree and plant identification games, obstacle courses, physically active group games.

12:00: Lunchtime.

12:45: Free play and outdoor art and craft, storytelling, drama.

13:45: Cosy story time in the shelter or the sunshine!

14:15: Afternoon snack around the campfire, circle time with reflection and gratitudes.

14.45: Get ready for home time.


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Children’s Learning Journeys

When your child is enrolled with us, we create a Learning Journey for them using the Tapestry software. You will be provided with a log in, so you can view updates with your child’s progress, and are encouraged to add your own comments and observations of your child’s development.


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Key Person and Settling In

Every child is assigned a key person who takes responsibility for the child’s welfare and learning at the kindergarten. They are the first port of call for parents and carers. Our policy on the role of the Key Person is available from the ‘Policies’ section of our website. We will work with you to decide on how to help your child to settle into the setting.


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Parental Involvement

We welcome involvement and input from our parents and families. We see ourselves as partners with parents in providing care and education for their children. There are many ways in which parents take part in making our setting a welcoming and stimulating place for children and parents, such as:

- exchanging knowledge about their children's needs, activities, interests and progress with us

- helping at sessions of the setting;

- sharing their own special interests with the children;

- helping to provide and look after the equipment and materials used in the children's play activities;

- being part of the Kindergarten’s Parent Teacher Association or Parents of the Forest group

- taking part in events and informal discussions about the activities and curriculum provided by the setting;

- joining in community activities, in which the setting takes part; and

- building friendships with other parents in the setting.


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Food

Children will bring their own packed lunch and snacks each day (we have a cool box to store food in warm weather). However cooking healthy snacks on the campfire is a regular activity at the kindergarten. Clean drinking water is always available and children are provided with warm drinks in cold weather.

What will my child need to bring / wear?

As well as a packed lunch, snacks and a drink, children will need to wear suitable outdoor clothing. This includes wellies, full waterproofs, and thermal layers, hats and gloves in cold weather; sun hats in warm weather.


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Weather

Forest school is all about play outdoors in all weathers. There is no such thing as bad weather: just bad clothing! We have a traditional hazel ‘bender’ shelter as well as parachute and tarpaulins for rain and cold.

However, there are certain weather conditions that will affect the running of the Forest School:

High winds can be dangerous in woodland because of the dangers of falling branches and damage to shelters. We monitor the forecast and our site closely. Our site is fairly sheltered from Southerly and Easterly winds, but, being on a hill, is exposed from the other directions. This means that we will have to close if winds are:

Gusting 39mph from North or West

Gusting 45 mph from any direction

Electrical storms

Electrical storms can be dangerous in a woodland due to lack of indoor shelters and risk of electric shock from lightning, both direct and through tree roots. We follow the Rospa 30/30 rule: if there is a direct lightning strike within 30km of our site, we seek shelter in vehicles and stay in for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder clap. Staff have an app on our phones which alert us if there is a strike within 30km. If electrical storms persist, we may call parents and carers for early pick up.


Snow and ice

Our site may also close if snow and ice make the roads too dangerous for travel.

The staff will stay informed of the weather conditions via the Met Office Web Site. We will always try to give 24 hours notice of closure, however we may need to cancel on the day if weather changes suddenly / overnight. We will inform parents by text and email. 

The staff will stay informed of the weather conditions via the Met Office Web Site. We will always try to give 24 hours notice, however we may need to cancel on the day if weather changes suddenly / overnight. We will inform parents by text and email. 

Policies

We can explain and show you all our policies and many can be found on our website for parents to view, under ‘Policies’.

Further information

You are welcome to ask us any questions -

please email childrenoftheforest@outlook.com