Established at the farm in 2009, Forest Gnomes is the only authentic Waldkindergarten in Massachusetts. Honoring the European forest preschool model (wald = forest, and kindergarten = preschool), this program for 3 to 5-year-old children takes place in the forest– a classroom without walls, changing with the seasons.
Forest Gnomes are outside for 95% of the day– in all weather! — and nature is our best teacher. Our program centers on child-led free play, imagination and exploration, with emergent, seasonal lessons and activities led by dedicated, creative teachers. Staff serve as facilitators and guides for the children as they develop their problem-solving, interpersonal and social-emotional skills.
Our program has been profiled in David Sobel’s “Nature Preschools and Forest Kindergartens”, publications from the Natural Learning Initiative and National Wildlife Federation, and local and regional media.
Mature program, founded in 2009
6:1 student to teacher ratio
Flexibility for families: choose between 2 and 5 mornings a week
Opportunities for safe risk-taking: climbing trees, using child-sized tools, rough-and-tumble play
Community events to engage the whole family: Festivals, Potlucks, and Campfires!
Program includes membership to NCOF that offers year-round discounts to other youth programs
What Gnomes Families Are Saying
“The canopy of trees above, the pine needles beneath their feet, smoke from the fire scenting the air, and the children right at home with the simplest things – pine cones, sticks, stones, sand, shovels etc., these are their rudimentary toys. And they are having a blast! Unplugged time with the sensory experience of the forest and the secure comfort offered by her teachers. —AD. Forest Gnome Parent
“I love the nurturing attitude that exists in respect to the children. The teachers are amazing! I love how they do more by doing sometimes less. They are thoughtful and move at a wonderful pace.”—Forest Gnome Parent
“I think it is a great experience for our kids to have had. In a world so caught up in technology, this school brings us back to experiencing connections to nature and has sparked my son’s imagination, helped him to learn cooperation, and strengthen his resolve and his physical strength.”—CR, Forest Gnome Parent