Ventura Wild Forest Preschool Programs

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How to Apply

Fall 2022 Forest Preschool Programs are FULL. We will be accepting applications for Spring 2023 in November.
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This application process creates an equitable opportunity that doesn’t hinge on technological access. We assign participants to programs based on a rubric to create a successful group, including prior participation, siblings, age, and scholarships. We hope this is helpful.

You must complete Steps 1 & 2 for your application to be considered!

STEP 1: Register for the Forest Preschool Programs Waitlist

This waitlist for all preschool programs. There is a non-refundable $25 application fee that will be applied towards enrollment if your child is placed into a program.

STEP 2: Complete the Forest Preschool Programs Application

In this application, you will specify which programs you are applying for and other details about your child.

CDC COVID guidelines update:

“In general, people do not need to wear masks when outdoors. However, people who are not fully vaccinated are encouraged to wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings or during activities that involve sustained close contact with other people who are not fully vaccinated.”

Ventura Wild staff are all fully vaccinated, but will continue to model mask wearing when appropriate. We will continue to practice hand washing and physical distancing when possible. Ventura Wild programs are supportive of participants or staff who choose to wear a mask at any time.

What is ‘Forest Preschool’?

Forest Preschool is early childhood education that takes place solely outdoors. The curriculum is focused on nature-based learning, following the child’s natural curiosity and inspirations. The Ventura Wild Forest Preschool Program is a child-centered learning process that offers opportunities for holistic growth through long-term connections that include play, exploration and supported risk taking. Our program develops confidence and self-esteem through learner inspired, hands-on experiences in a natural setting. A sense of belonging and confidence on this planet is the foundation of a confident and curious learner. 

Licensing and Accreditation

Ventura Wild Forest Preschool Program is not a licensed or accredited preschool, since preschool licensing is based on a building / structure. Our Forest Preschool is thus a “Program”, not a “School”. “Forest Preschools” are now accredited in Washington State, but California is lagging behind. That being said, Ventura Wild has highly qualified instructors and clearly defined best practice standards in the field of nature based early childhood and social emotional development. We are constantly seeking and applying the latest research and international practices in the profession, and all staff strive for excellence that is reflected in the children’s daily experiences with us.

How does your child learn during a nature-based program?

Experiential Learning: Forest Preschool is centered around hands-on experiential learning. Students embrace their curiosities, forming questions that then guide them to their discoveries. Instructors are there to encourage this process, to support students building interpersonal skills to problem-solve such as communication and cooperation.

Emotional and Social Development: Students are encouraged to recognize and communicate their emotions. This awareness supports their self care routines and their relationships with each other.

Risk-Taking: Students are also encouraged to assess and take calculated risks, building spatial and motor skills. For example, students are taught the risks around tree climbing. With this awareness, they are then able to discover their ability and grow their comfort level within these parameters. With a 4:1 ratio, instructors are there every step of the way. Introducing risk-taking at this young age builds their resilience and improves their judgement that they will carry throughout their lives. 

Deepening a Relationship with Nature: Because our program is held in nature, students build a deep and lasting relationship with their environment. Witnessing the same animals and plants each day, we gain an understanding and therefore friendship with them. An early relationship with nature grows respect that lasts a lifetime.

A ‘Typical’ Day in Ventura Wild

 9:00 Drop-off
 9:10 Introductory Activity/Game (usually a form of movement)
 9:30 Opening Circle – Sharing and Snack time
 9:45 Bathroom Break
 10:00 Exploratory Activities (integrating learning with nature – science, counting, colors, senses..)
 11:30 Lunch + StoryTime
11:45 Bathroom Break
 12:00 Open Nature Exploration and Play
 12:45 Reflect on the Day
 1:00 Pick-Up

Though we maintain core routines to create familiarity, we allow great flexibility within our ‘schedule’ to allow space for creativity and following spontaneous moments in nature.

Forest Preschool Programs 2022-23

Continue scrolling for Full Program Descriptions

Fall 2022 Programs Day Time Age
Bear Cubs Mon & Wed 9:00 – 1:00 PM 3 – 5
Fox Kits Tues & Thurs 9:00 – 1:00 PM 3 – 5
Los Pajaritos Friday 9:00 – 1:00 PM 3 – 5
Fall 2022 Calendar Date
Orientation Days Aug. 24th & Aug. 25th
First Week of Programs Aug. 29th – Sept. 2nd
Labor Day (No program) Sept. 5th
Fall Break (No program) Oct. 24th
Veterans Day (No program Nov. 11th
Thanksgiving Break (No program) Nov. 21st – 25th
Last Week of Programs Dec. 12th – Dec. 16th

Forest Preschool Programs 2022-23

Potty Training Requirements: Your child needs to be potty trained prior to beginning program with us. Minor assistance and occasional accidents are OK. We practice environmentally conscious nature pees/poos and there is also a public restroom on location, where we provide toilet seat covers and toddler seats.

Age Requirements: Your child must be at least 3 years of age by the first day of your Fall 2022 program. The program is best suited for 3 – 4.5 year olds, with those 4.5 year olds turning 5 during our ‘school’ year. Ventura Wild offers homeschool and after school programs for those who have aged out of our preschool offerings. See our Fall 2022 offerings here

Bear Cubs

DATES: August 29th – December 14th
 Mondays and Wednesdays
TIME: 9:00-1:00 PM
AGE: 3-5 yrs
MAX GROUP SIZE: 12 children of various ages
LOCATIONS: Foster Park, Hayden Preserve
PRICE: $1984

Click Here for the full program description

Fox Kits

DATES: August 30th – December 15th
 Tuesdays and Thursdays
TIME: 9:00-1:00 PM
AGE: 3-5 yrs
MAX GROUP SIZE: 12 children of various ages
LOCATIONS:Foster Park, Hayden Preserve
PRICE: $1984

Click Here for the full program description

Los Pajaritos
(Drop-Off, Bilingual)

DATES: September 2nd – December 16th
TIME: 9:00-1:00 PM
AGE: 3-5 yrs
MAX GROUP SIZE: 12 children of various ages
LOCATIONS: Foster Park
PRICE: $1024

Click Here for the full program description