Kinderforest Implementation Plan

We train and collaborate with regional schools to implement their own Kinderforest programs based on the participating schools’ needs. The model here describes a close partnership where we customize 6 tracks to fit the school: curriculum development, Kinderforest visitation dates, professional development, planning and coordination, evaluation and family involvement.

This broad implementation plan outlines year 1 of a 3-year partnership for creating and transferring program ownership.

  • In the 1st year, Merry Lea provides most of the Kinderforest curriculum, research, pedagogy and broad schedules.
  • In the 2nd year, participating teachers develop both indoor and Kinderforest curricula, and take over Kinderforest instruction and administrative tasks with support from Merry Lea staff.
  • In the 3rd year, participating teachers continue without our direct involvement.

Curriculum Development

  1. Merry Lea staff develop initial curriculum, lesson plans and research pedagogy for Kinderforest visits. Merry Lea staff also lead instruction on Kinderforest visits with classroom teachers’ support.
  2. Lesson plans and instruction are passed off to the school teachers around February, with guidance and support.
  3. Participating schools develop their regular curriculum for their indoor classroom. School teachers are aligning and sharing indoor classroom curricula with Kinderforest curricula.

Kinderforest Visits

  1. Once a month, participating kindergarten classes will visit their designated nature classroom. These visits will happen around the same time each month – typically towards the end of the month. Participating schools will determine dates with Merry Lea staff.

Professional Development Sessions

  1. Before school starts, Merry Lea staff bring initial trainings, resources and conversations to begin collaborating with teachers.
  2. On each Kinderforest day, after students leave, Merry Lea staff and classroom teachers will meet for reflective sessions. These are framed to review and analyze the day together, and brainstorm how to respond for the next Kinderforest visit.
  3. Merry Lea staff provide additional trainings to teachers as needed, before they take over Kinderforest curricula.
  4. Merry Lea and school staff engage in a culminating session to identify professional learning from the year and begin preparations for ownership of program management.

Planning and Coordination

  1. Partner Leadership Team includes directors and lead coordinators between Merry Lea staff and the participating school district.
  2. Partner Leadership Team meets to identify additional needs and attend to the 6 tracks.
  3. Partner Leadership Team meets to discuss articulation agreements and partnership logistics, and how the program adoption is going overall for the school.
  4. Partner Leadership Team meets 4 times over the school year. Dates are defined collaboratively.
  5. Before and/or after each Kinderforest visit – separate from the reflective sessions – Merry Lea staff and teachers check in on logistics. For example: making sure supplies are acquired, comfort levels on different activities, updates, etc.

Evaluation

  1. Merry Lea continually evaluates and stays up to date on forest school pedagogies, tools, research and best practices. Because we are a teaching organization, our graduate students may participate in such big-picture evaluations and research for their thesis.
  2. Classroom teachers continually document Kinderforest lessons. In conjunction with Merry Lea staff, teachers also assess and adapt Kinderforest lesson plans’/activities’ relevancy to the classroom (and vice versa).

Family Involvement

  1. Classroom teachers and Merry Lea staff meet with parents/guardians to discuss what Kinderforest is and how it looks before the first visit.
  2. Kindergarten Roundup event for incoming kindergarteners and their parents/guardians to visit the indoor and outdoor classrooms, meet their teacher and learn about Kinderforest. Usually held in the spring.
  3. A celebration will occur at the end of the year for students to show their parents/guardians their outdoor classroom. Date defined collaboratively.
  4. Classroom teachers are responsible for communicating with parents/guardians before and after each Kinderforest visit. Teachers should not only provide general updates on their students, but also inform parents to provide their child with proper clothing/outdoor wear and any additional items needed.