WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
"The combination of Rae and the forest really feels like a dream came true for our family."
- Jamie, Parent
"We have seen such a positive change in Lily’s willingness to explore the great outdoors in the 9 months that she has attended Bend Forest School. She’s gained confidence, patience, and a passion for outdoor play. She previously was a kid that wanted to stay inside and play with dolls and now she loves to run around with the boys. We moved our family to Bend to raise our kids with an appreciation for outdoor adventure and found ourselves too busy with work to take the kids on adventures during the week. Therefore we are truly grateful to Rae for starting Bend Forest School. We can’t wait until our baby is old enough to attend."
- Elyse, Parent
Our family could not be more happy with or grateful for Bend Forest School! This is our first grade son‘s third year there. While we are pleased with the high-quality academics provided, we are most grateful for the amazing social and emotional aspects catered to. With such few children and a low child-to-teacher ratio, our son has been given so much more attention and opportunity for growth than he would in most any other school setting. Because our son struggles with anxiety, this is particularly valuable for our family. This also provides the opportunity for very individualized learning, which we appreciate as it caters to each child and their needs specifically on any given day. The curriculum offers a great variety and is very hands-on and play based, which we highly value. There are many guest teachers brought in for a variety of topics, such as Spanish, music, art, yoga, gardening, etc. We also love the amazing community that Bend Forest School provides for the whole family. There are many family gatherings and events provided, and we are so grateful for the entire community that is Bend Forest School! We feel this program is worth every penny, and we are excited and so grateful to continue being part of this beautiful school and community!
- Natasha, Parent
"Finding and enrolling in Bend Forest School was one of the best decisions for our family, and the community is wonderfully warm, collaborative and kind."
- Rachel, Parent
“I love Forest School because we aren’t trapped in a building all day. We get to be in the fresh air and run around and play.”
- Keira, Student, Age 8
“I call my school 'camp' because it’s fun and free, like camp is for most kids in the summer. My favorite actives are the mud kitchen and math.”
- Adia, Student, Age 6
"Our daughter (3) attended the Bend Forest School Preschool in 2021/2022. It was her first school experience. The head teacher, Rachael, made our daughter feel safe and cared for, loving her like her own daughter and gently guiding her through the forest school routines until she knew them by heart. And the teachers thought to reassure us, the parents too! We regularly received messages and photos on our daughter's state; it was not necessary and so appreciated, even liberating! Knowing that your child is being challenged and totally supported is a wonderful thing; that is where growth happens.
New to OR and "real" weather, we were uncertain how our daughter would handle the elements. But we dutifully followed the Bend Forest School apparel guidelines and our tiny daughter was never once cold or uncomfortable at school in rain, hail, or snow, nor did she get sunburned. In fact, her enthusiasm for school grew as the weather became more wild; she'd hop from the car like a happy little bunny on snow days and promptly grab a snow shovel.
The Bend Forest School holds high expectations for kids, even at the age of three, because they see kids as the totally capable, strong people that they are. So when sharing a spoon in the mud kitchen becomes a point of contention among children, the teachers do not rescue. Rather they observe and gently coach, showing the kids that they can figure it out together and they do. The teachers also give the kids room to stretch their imaginations; the forest is a wonderful place for imaginary play. We have found that this careful balance of support and space makes for confident kids.
During her year at the Bend Forest School preschool, our daughter has transformed from a baby who has just left the nest, to a bright young girl on the rise, excited to stand on her own two feet. We feel that time in nature is a gift, and the Bend Forest School uses that gift to help children blossom into confident, knowledgeable, self-assured citizens.
Our daughter (5) attended Kindergarten at the Bend Forest School in 2021/2022. We found the lead teacher, LB, to be truly impressive. She not only held high expectations for the kids that lead to growth and maturity, but she also tuned into each child's sensitivities and eccentricities, thoughtfully befriending and coaching each child in a way that met them exactly where they were. The monthly study focuses were supported with hands-on learning, reading, and discussion at levels that far exceeded our expectations and their daily literacy and gross motor work was on par if not better than any traditional school we have experienced. And perhaps most importantly, the kids absorbed learning through their immersive outdoors experience. They tracked native creatures, rolled logs, climbed trees, excavated roots, identified blooms, discovered hatched eggs, tuned into bird song, felt the rain, hail, snow, and sun, and took responsibility for their bodies and gear to stay comfortable and safe. Our daughter emerged from a year of Kindergarten at the Bend Forest School as a lighter, more confident, capable, and eloquent child. We are grateful.
Our daughter (7) attended first grade at the Bend Forest School in 2021/2022. Before school started, we hired a weekly tutor to support her in reading and math; we didn't think the Bend Forest School would be able to support our daughter's skill level as it exceeded her age/grade level. But within a week of school starting, it became clear that our daughter would not only be academically challenged, but she would also be free to learn as rapidly and deeply as she pleased, both with and independently of her classmates. The class library was diversified for different reading levels, math games brought early learners along while challenging more advanced students, and writing projects were tailored to the writing and comprehension ability of each student. Additionally, hands-on, outdoor activities put Physics and Engineering into practice, making the learning sticky instead of rote. Independent learning was encouraged too; cozy indoor and outdoor spaces were provided and discovered for quiet reading, guided painting, and free play.
Experiencing all four seasons from a single vantage point can be a profound experience; leaves fall, soil hardens, birds depart, and then new life returns as flowers push up through the soil, eggs hatch, and pollen wafts through the air. The wonder of the seasons was absorbed by the children, with teachers guiding them through the change and relating it to change in ourselves. It was a natural way to help kids see growth and change as positive, just like their brainstorms turned into first drafts, into final pieces of narrative writing.
Our daughter has been truly happy at the Bend Forest School. A relatively brainy kid, the academics have kept her fully engaged, nature has provided wonderful and unexpected opportunities, and the community has been strong, supportive, and close. She has made close friendships, worked through challenging problems, learned to anticipate and prepare for changes in her environment, and developed a positive, can-do, all-weather attitude. We are proud of her and grateful for the chance to have joined the Bend Forest School community."
_ Lizzy, Parent