"Children cannot bounce off the walls if we take away the walls."
~ Erin Kenny
Co-Founder of Cedarsong Nature School (the first US Forest Kindergarten, 2007)
In the fall of 2014, Painted Oak Nature School became the first preschool in Mercer county, NJ to offer a nature immersion program inspired by the waldkindergartens of Germany. Now, in our 10th year, and having been recently registered as a private school, PONS is the first elementary and middle school in the state to include a Forest School model at the heart of its work. Research continues to support that connecting children to the natural world benefits their bodies, minds, and spirits.
Forest School begins once the children have geared up and shopped for tools, nature journals, field guides, or art supplies on the forest shelves. We leave school, walk across the Big Field, and organize ourselves at the trailhead. With a gentle song, following the hike line, we enter Fallen Forest with owl eyes on and fox ears open all the way to Base Camp.
During the time our classes spend in the forest, any, or all, of the following is enjoyed:
- climbing trees - creating Earth arts - listening to birds - tracking animals - nature journaling - building shelters - playing games - wild edible snacks with pine needle tea
Summer Forest School
This year, we have made the difficult decision to take a one-year hiatus from our summer camp to focus our efforts on leadership and curriculum development within our school. This strategic pause is an investment in the future of our educational offerings, ensuring that we continue to provide the most impactful and enriching experiences for our students.
Please be assured, this hiatus is temporary and we are fully committed to resuming our program next summer. We will miss camp this year, but we are excited about what’s to come and can’t wait to share it with you in 2025!
Thank you again for being part of our Painted Oak community. Your understanding and support as we make these improvements mean a great deal to us. Here’s to a great future for our school and all the adventures we’ll have together!