Our nature and movement based program provides plenty of outdoor time year round combined with ample opportunity for children to explore nature while strengthening gross motor skills.
Children will take advantage of both a lovely nearby forest and our large, shaded, on-site playground.
Our Waldorf inspired classroom focuses on meeting the needs of the young child by honouring the importance of play. Our bright space invites children to explore, and our daily schedule balances imaginative play with guided activities.
Our small class size encourages children to strengthen their social skills while Ms Jan supports their emotional resilience using warm and caring practices.
Imaginative play during a child's early years allows them to practice the capacity for creating inner images, which are capable of endless metamorphosis.
These inner images become the foundation for fluidity of thinking, social interaction, and problem solving skills, which in turn, prepare children for later learning through academics.
Mornings: 8:30 am to 12:30 pm
Full Day: 8:30 am to 3:30 pm
After care available based on need.
33 Bromleigh Ave, London, ON.
OPEN HOUSE: Saturday, February 24, 2024. 9:30 - 11:30.
In our Kindergarten class, when parents come to pick up their child at the end of their school day from Forest Footsteps Kindergarten Alternative, it isn’t uncommon to hear many a child grumble to their parents and say they don’t want to go home right now. Maybe when Thursday rolls around and it is not a school day, some children have sad faces after being told it isn’t a “Miss Jan Day”. And over the last five months, we have experienced too many sweet moments to count throughout our days with upwards of eight children sharing the same space for three full days with me. What is it about my Kindergarten Alternative Class that makes your child want to come each day, to want more of it, or be part of a communal experience that is so rich and rewarding?
As a certified Waldorf Kindergarten and Grade School Teacher, with over thirty years experience working with children, and fifteen of those years in the classroom, I have extensive knowledge of the young child and what they need developmentally to meet their individual needs. The programming of this mixed age Kindergarten is designed specifically to meet your child’s needs where they are in this moment. I give them a curriculum that they desire and can accomplish; therefore, your child goes home at the end of the day feeling as if they have done everything right. Can you imagine how wonderful that must be for a little person who is just starting out on this road of life and often at school for their first time? Success!
The young child benefits from a strong sense of routine and predictability which is crucial for the developing child; this is a large focus of my programming. Think of how comforting is it for your child to know how the day will occur because the various activities are repeated in the same way at the same time over their school days? When I prioritize creating a schedule that is consistent in so many ways throughout the day, the children come to anticipate the next activity. I can still recall one of my eight year old campers asking me why I sang everything. For example, when it was time to come to the carpet for circle time, I would sing, “Let us form a ring, dancing as we sing, ring-a-ring a rye-a, ring-a-ring-a rye-a. All sit down upon the ground. Watch the birds fly up and down.” What a lovely gentle way to ask the children to leave their creative play time and come join together for our circle time. By day three, many were on the carpet after just a few notes of the song in anticipation of our next activity. This sort of predictability also discourages resistance from the young child as there really isn’t any intellectualization of the process by asking them to join us and doesn’t provide for an opportunity for them to say no. Essentially it eliminates a lot of discipline problems too.
I bring humour and concepts to their day that aren’t above them (like time), but meet them where they are developmentally. For instance, I have said to many a young child at the beginning of their day that Mommy will pick them up after we have had our walk to the Park, relying on the rhythm to give them context. Another of my favourite ways to help them through the day if they were missing Mommy, is to hold my thumb and pointer finger apart at the start of our day to indicate the amount of time remaining before pick up. Then, throughout the day, the space between fingers decreases, until my fingers are eventually touching and Mommy is there. For many, it becomes a joke to ask when Mommy is coming to see how far apart my fingers are. Another chuckle es shared when, at the end of the day when you are actually there to pick up your child, I call their name and show them that my fingers are touching, causing a big smile.
I’m not sure if you are versed in what a Kindergarten Alternative Class is, but during the pandemic Schooling Pods or Alternatives began. In Ontario, you can choose to homeschool your child and keep them out of ministry approved schools. The Ministry does not follow up on any children homeschooled and the responsibility to educate your child falls on your shoulders as their parent. Instead of educating your child yourself, many parents have chosen to find a teacher and pay them to educate their child. If this teacher teaches more than one or two children, then the costs become much more affordable and an Alternative or a Homeschooling Pod is formed. We began our Alternative in September 2023 and are presently full with 8 students attending Monday to Wednesday from 8:30 to 2:30 pm. This coming September 2024, I am hoping to have up to 18 children with an assistant, offering either a weekly morning program from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm or a full day program from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm, with after care if there is a need.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your child came home each day from school with enthusiasm and happiness? They do in Forest Footsteps Kindergarten Alternative with me as their teacher and with a curriculum embellished with such activities as: singing, movement, stories, artistic, forest walks, and practical things such as making soup together or making bread. A large portion of their school day is spent outside, whether in the church yard or our little forest situated nearby. By allowing them to move lots instead of asking them to sit most of their day at desks, we are strengthening their physical bodies which is necessary for their later learning of academics. Can you imagine if a child doesn’t have a good sense of balance or strong core muscles, they will find it difficult to sit quietly in their seats for learning; thus, the importance of ample gross motor movements at this age to improve their overall strength.
This Kindergarten is an early childhood program that encourages the development of social skills through creative play, enriching stories that strengthen their linguistics and age appropriate activities that call on their fine motor skills. A child this age learns so much through imaginative play, such as problem solving and creative thinking. The Danish have seen and consistently foster a play-based program as they know the benefits of allowing the young child to cultivate a love of learning which also lays the foundation for academic excellence at an appropriate age.
Finally, in the Forest Footsteps Kindergarten Alternative your child will be in an environment where their feelings are allowed to be expressed and honored. Through respectful and kind parenting practices, I will acknowledge what they are feeling in moments of upset and support them through those big feelings and out the other side. This form of respectful parenting is found in literature by Janet Landsbury and two agencies called RIE or Pikler Foundation. I have been using this philosophy with children for many years with great success and even consult with parents to help them learn it. More information about me and my can be found on this website.
Our family has been part of Miss Jan’s community for a few years now. It was very special for us when we started with her play group as everything was just starting to open back up so the social part became really important to myself and my girls. My youngest was just 2 years old when she met Miss Jan and is now almost 5 and is now part of the Forest Footsteps Kindergarten Alternative. To have this opportunity and alternative to a regular school has been a blessing. Miss Jan’s individual approach to each child’s needs and attention to each child allows them to learn and grow in stress free environment. I have learned so much from Miss Jan in regards to different parenting approaching just from watching her interaction with my girls and other children. She has always been open to my questions and will discuss any concerns I might be struggling with. My girls look forwards to each day they get to spend with Miss Jan.
My daughter (who just turned 3) and I have been attending Miss Jan's playgroup every week for several months. It has been such a lovely experience for the both of us! I love that there is a combination of free play and structure within the session and the children all seem to love the routine. Play, songs, homemade snacks, circle time, stories and more play, it's really sweet how the children anticipate all the elements throughout the session. If you are looking for a very thoughtful, structured and calming space for you and your child to enjoy together, this is it. It's a unique setting and unlike any other playgroup we've attended before. Miss Jan is reassuring and has plenty of insight and experience with children to share with us parents, another perk. Both my daughter and I have made lifelong friends just in the last few months. Thank you Miss Jan!