Forest House FAQ time

Looking for a forest school playgroup or nature-based playschool? We’re glad you’ve landed in our neck of the woods.

But when it comes to finding the right playgroup for your child, parents ask a lot of questions. And good ones too! Well, since we think Forest House is just about the best playgroup for nature-loving little ones, we wanted to give all your questions their time in the sun. These are our answers to your most frequently asked questions on Nature Plays Forest House Playgroup to help you decide whether we’re the right playgroup for you.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this FAQ article:

forest school playgroup for children 3-5
  • What are your values and purpose?
  • What makes you different?
  • What are the teachers qualified in?
  • What and how will my child learn anything?
  • What is your term structure like?
  • What are your fees and payment options?
  • How do you track my child’s progress?
  • How much individual attention will my child get?

But first, what is Forest House in a nutshell?

Forest House is a small outdoor playgroup, come play school based in the heart of the Constantia Greenbelt with direct access to the forest in a safe and secure environment. We are the very first Forest School founded in South Africa. We immerse children, from 3 to 5 years old in nature, and support them to become creative thinkers, develop soft skills and become lifelong learners.

What are your values and purpose?

We aim to inspire the children who join us to be enveloped with a love for life and nature, while we guide them to develop a sense of self-awareness and confidence as they grow into conscious and heart-centered citizens of the world.

We value a nature honouring, slower pace of life and above all else, to hold space for children to play and the time that they deserve to be curious children for as long as possible so that they may truly land in who they are, not what society wishes them to be, and gain the skills to navigate in this world as a comfortable, secure adult in their own unique body and mind.

What makes you different?

We understand that children need space and movement to develop, learn and grow. A child constricted to a desk will become fiddly and distracted because they’re not releasing their abundant growing energy. So, we spend as much time outside as possible, allowing children to move, explore, run, roll, jump and climb. We make sure we include this important movement so that our brains can then be ready to learn and focus.

We observe and support the children in their own curiosity led development. We don’t force any particular learning or direction on a child and honour their own pace of development.

We do also prepare children, should they one day want to go to big school, in literacy, numeracy, social skills, emotional intelligence and creative and critical thinking. And as far as possible we teach these skills through the ‘head-hands-and-heart’ approach through multi-sensory learning, tactile engagement and contextual examples, versus simply a head approach that would require the tracing of numbers and letters with pen and pencil.

What are the teachers qualified in?

At Nature Plays our educators have their Early Childhood Development Qualification and are trained in the Forest School approach as well as the Reggio Emilia pedagogies, both of which, when combined form a magical way of learning.

Our educators know to role-model inquisitiveness and play, as well as a reflective attitude. We embrace play in our own lives and we continue to develop our own inner child.

All our facilitators are passionate about focusing on the emotional, spiritual, intellectual, social, physical, communication and language development of children: the whole child.

Beyond this each facilitator and member of our team has their own unique interests and backgrounds which combine to form a vibrant forest of expertise and knowledge. You can learn more about our team here.

What will my child learn?

During all our mainly outdoor and some indoor play your child will learn about nature and the elements, about where they end and their environment and other people begin.

  • They will spend many hours being creative, where they will learn about colour and self expression.
  • They will learn soft skills like how to engage with different types of people.
  • They will learn how to navigate the world through their own challenges (we don’t solve problems for them but rather support them in figuring out how they want to solve the problem).
  • They will learn to discover and develop their own preferences and strengths through play in the garden, the slack line, the swing and the wooden treehouse
  • We teach them whittling and safe tool use, rope knotting and also fire building – all skills that develop their confidence, focus and their attention to detail.
  • They also learn literacy, numeracy, critical thinking and creative thinking

And how will my child learn?

Your child will learn through gentle guided facilitation and support, mostly outdoors by exploring their curiosity and natural wonder with the environment around them. We encourage them to think deeper, to observe, to play and experiment, to ask questions and to experience their environment through engaging with it and with their personal sense of it.

What is your term structure like?

Since we aim to emulate a regular playgroup, we align mostly with traditional school holidays. We’re open Mondays to Thursdays 8:30am -12:30pm. Our 2023 dates are as follows:

Term 1: 17th January – 17th March
Term 2: 11th April – 23rd June

Term 3: 18th July – 22nd September
Term 4: 10th October – 8th December

In between the regular terms we offer holiday school programmes to keep the kids learning and playing in nature and not turning into screen time consuming couch potatoes (although sometimes that’s nice too ;p) This page offers an overview on the dates of our holiday schools for different age groups, or you an sign up to our monthly newsletter to stay in the loop.

What are your fees and payment options?

Our ‘ school fees’ are paid on the 1st of each month. We have the following payment options for bulk payments:

Monthly fee structure: R4300
Termly fee structure: R12,384 (4% discount applicable)
Annual fee structure: R48,504 (6% discount applicable)
Early annual fee structure: R47,472 (8% discount applicable)

How do you track my child’s progress?

We know how important it is for you to know what your child gets up to and where they’re at. We take pictures during the day and every two weeks send an informative email to the parents with a link to pictures and the highlights of our time together. At the end of the second and fourth term parents receive an individual learning journal.

How much individual attention will my child get?

We aim to never have any more than 12 children at Forest House Playgroup. So with 2 facilitators on at all times, there’s a very high attention ratio for your child.

nature based playgroup

Still have questions? Well, of course, this is a place where you’ll leave your child for a good part of the day. And we want you to be sure.

Please get in touch to arrange a school visit. We would love to show you around and welcome you to our forest house.

For more in-depth reading, please feel free to download our PDF Guide to Forest House.