Preschool Program

Friendly Forest Preschool stands out as a model of child-centered education, embodying a play-based, child-led philosophy with a profound commitment to the social and emotional wellbeing of each young learner. At the heart of this preschool is a dedication to providing children with daily opportunities for unstructured, self-chosen, and self-directed play, utilizing open-ended materials both indoors and in the expansive outdoor environment. The educators at Friendly Forest are not just teachers; they are passionate about forging deep and meaningful connections with each child. They firmly believe that for children learning flourishes within the context of strong connections – whether to caregivers, peers, the environment, or materials.

The play-based, child-led approach at Friendly Forest Preschool offers a multitude of benefits for students. Large blocks of unstructured play allow children to explore, experiment, and develop essential skills in a natural and enjoyable setting. The focus on social and emotional wellbeing nurtures self-awareness, empathy, and resilience, laying a solid foundation for future learning and personal growth.

The parent cooperative model embraced by Friendly Forest extends its benefits beyond the students to both parents and teachers. Parents actively participate in their child’s education, gaining insights into early childhood development and fostering a supportive community. This active involvement enhances the learning experience for the child and strengthens the bond between parents and their preschooler. For teachers, the cooperative model creates a collaborative and supportive environment, fostering a sense of shared responsibility and mutual understanding.

Friendly Forest Preschool is proud to be an example of developmentally appropriate practice, where the play-based, child-led approach and the cooperative model intersect to create a nurturing and enriching educational environment. Here, children thrive emotionally, socially, and intellectually, while parents and teachers alike find fulfillment in the shared journey of fostering the next generation of lifelong learners.


Outdoor Active Play

Children will spend approximately 30 minutes each preschool session (rain or shine, snow or ice) outdoors engaged in active play. It is very rare for the weather to prevent us going outdoors at all.

Children will be encouraged to run, jump, climb, ride bikes, sled in the snow, and dig in the sand in our outdoor area. Sometimes outdoor play will involve a walk in the neighboring forest where children will navigate the forest path by climbing over and under branches and running along the paths.

Neighborhood walks will be also taken occasionally. Group games such as “What Time is it Mr. Wolf”, “Follow the Leader”, “Farmers in the Dell” and Parachute games will be played on the tennis courts or in Anmore’s Spirit park which has a large space to facilitate active group games.


Global Awareness

Children learn about other cultures and traditions by providing hands on exploration through cooking, dance, music, instruments, stories clothing and materials.


Art

Open shelves with an array of different art tools and materials are available for the children to choose from and create artwork. The emphasis is on choice, decisions, and process, not product. Other open-ended art activities such as ice-cube, string or marble painting are also set up in this area. Exposure to the paintings of great artists such as Emily Carr and Chagall are present for inspiration.


Dramatic PlayDramatic Play

This type of play is where children accept and assign roles to one another. It is a time when the pretend to be something or someone and they create situations and actions to go along with these roles. Children are actively experimenting with the social and emotional roles of life. By providing various types of dramatic play children engage themselves in different roles.


Language and Emergent Reading and Writing

Rather than using formal instruction (e.g. flash cards, work sheets) to teach pre-academic skills, we use a developmentally appropriate approach called Whole Language which relates skills such as speaking, listening, reading, and writing to the child’s interests and experiences. We help children make the connection between the written word and communication by writing down their dictated stories and then reading them at circle time. We have a print-rich environment, which is incorporated into all areas of our curriculum. Children have access to writing materials and books throughout the classroom and are exposed to a variety of literature individually and in small or large groups every day. When children show an interest in wanting to write letters and words, they are given individual support.


MusicMovementMusic

Music

Music helps the body and mind work together. Exposing children to a variety of music during early childhood will help them learn the sounds and meanings of words. Movement with music helps children build motor skills while allowing them to practice self expression.


Sensory Play

Children become scientists as they explore and experiments with the properties of sand, water, finger-paint, play-dough, clay, cornstarch, shaving cream, bubbles, and colors. This play serves to soothe and calm; it also stimulates vital sensory input needed for conceptual understanding.


NatureNature

Inside the classroom we have creatures such as fish, crickets, earthworms or snails, to investigate and observe. Outside the children help to plant bulbs, flowers, and vegetables and take care of the garden by raking leaves, sweeping, or watering the trees and flower beds.


WoodworkWoodwork

Woodwork Table

Children use real tools to hammer and saw in this area , developing eye-hand co-ordination and problem solving. Because carpentry is seen as an adult activity, its inclusion in the classroom can enhance a child’s sense of accomplishment.


Math

Children experience math in many different concrete ways throughout our classroom. They can play, count, sort, classify, match, measure, pattern, seriate, and form spatial relations with a variety of equipment and objects that are integrated in all of the activity areas.