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Miami Nature PLAYschool Handbook

TEAMS assigned to Oleta River State Park

 

Program Coordinator

Forest Kindergarten

Karina Simon

Mentor

Lais Silva

Facilitator

Alicia Angel

15 children

 

12 Parents & Child children

 

Team Leader

Kristen Adsit

Program Director

Patricia Leon

Program Coordinator

Parent and Child

Ursula Castaneda

Mentor

Fatima Daoudi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOUNDER & PROGRAM DIRECTOR

Patricia Leon

Peruvian. Mom of a preteen. 

MBA and Educator Specialized in Andragogy, Leadership, Marketing and HR.  Certified Forest Kindergarten Mentor by Cedarson Nature School. Certified Nature-Based Educator by Erafans. Speaker at ERAFANS Forest Kindergarten Certification. Speaker at multiple annual Nature-Based Conferences about MNP Methodology. Montessori Instructor Newborn to 6 years. Independent Consultant at Grupo Consulta, Lima-Peru. Board Member and part of the Financial Committee at Erafans, Board Member at The Childhood Nature Project.  CFO at Miami Nature School. Former Leadership Instructor at UPC Post-graduate Business School. Former Independent Consultant at Cornell IRL.. Active volunteer with Surfrider, Pelican Seabird Hospital, Friends of Oleta and Friends of Enchanted Forest..

 

JOB DESCRIPTION

Title: Program Coordinator

Supervisor: Program Director

General responsibilities: Responsible for the daily supervision of each community at each location. Supervise the Team Leaders and their teams, assign or fill in a backup in case of need. Capacity to interact and coordinate with representatives of all our local partners offices. Criteria to solve and negotiate with vendors and partners in representation of the organization. Capacity to solve parent’s concerns and call their attention respectfully when breaking the family – community contract.

Specific duties: Supervise the daily activities of the community. Confirm absences. Report any illness or injury. Escort the group to and from all activity areas and trips. Conduct on-going evaluations of the team of Mentors and Mentors in training.

Qualifications: Preferably parent at the community. Certified Nature Based Teacher. Must have the ability to lead, be organized, proactive, flexible and fast to solve and act during unexpected situations. Comfortable with change and being outdoors.

Title: Team Leader / Facilitator

Supervisor: Program Coordinator

General responsibilities: Responsible for the daily supervision of its own community and team. Capacity to build a collaborative relationship with representatives of the partner venue. Proactivity to engage the community with the venue affairs and needs. Capacity to answer parent’s questions and offer advice and support when needed.

Specific duties: Organize the daily activities of the community. Organize daily risk assessment of the area to be used as a camp site for the morning. Responsible to confirm daily weather and communicate families any specific recommendation for the day via chat. Responsible of guidance to its team’s members. Report absence, illness or injury. Keep the medical record file organized and up to date. Responsible of maintain the First Aid Kit with all the items needed for an outdoor program and keep record of the expiration dates of the supplies. 

Qualifications: Preferably parent at the community. Certified Nature Based Teacher. Good understanding of the philosophy and comfortable with allowing children to practice risky play. Must have the ability to lead, be organized, proactive, flexible and fast to solve and act during unexpected situations. Comfortable with change and being outdoors. Comfortable delegating, supervising staff, stepping back in children’s affairs and to schedule activities. Must have the energy, motivation and skills needed to work with children outdoors, willingness to accept guidance and supervision, and a sense of patience and self-control.

 

Title: Mentor

Supervisor: Team Leader

General responsibilities: Proactivity to engage the community with the venue affairs and needs. Capacity to answer parent’s questions and offer advice and support when needed.

Specific duties: Prepare the daily activities of the community. Ensure the daily risk assessment of the area to be used as a camp site for the morning. Check first aid kit and prepare supplies needed for the day’s weather. Responsible of guidance and mentorship of the children and parents participants.

Qualifications: Preferably parent at the community. Desirable Certified Nature Based Teacher. Good understanding of the philosophy and comfortable with allowing children to practice risky play. Must be organized, proactive, flexible and fast to solve and act during unexpected situations. Comfortable with change and being outdoors. Comfortable stepping back in children’s affairs. Must have the energy, motivation and skills needed to work with children outdoors, willingness to accept guidance and supervision, and a sense of patience and self-control.

SUPERVISION RATIO

  • At the Parent and Child Institute is one facilitator per 12 parents, each of them responsible of their own child age 4 and under.  Ratio: 1:1

  • At the Nature Walks with older children, the ratio is 1 Mentor per 5 children with a maximum of 15 children between 3 to 5 years old per community. Ratio: 1:5

 

MEDICAL RECORD & EMERGENCIES

As part of each community documents, a file with all the medical information for each child needed in case of a serious injury is kept with the equipment.

As part of each community documents, a file with all the general liability and medical waivers for each child, these statements are signed by parents or legal guardian in the event of the program's inability to locate promptly a person designated to be notified in case of emergency.

All the communities have a First Aid Kit with appropriate content required for an outdoor program.

All the team members for each community keep in their cellphone the emergency contact number for each child.

In case a staff of child may sustain an injury or suffer an illness that requires prompt action these are the steps the Mentors in charge must follow:

 

Plan of action:

  1. Make the injured person and others safe from further harm.

  2. Bring the First Aid Kit.

  3. Assess the injured person as having a life-threatening emergency or a non-life-threatening emergency.

Life-threatening emergency

Non-life-threatening

  1. Give first aid*

  2. Activate EMS (911).

  3. Notify Camp Director

d.  Notify victim's parents

a. Give first aid

b. Notify Camp Director

c. Notify victim's parents.

d. Activate EMS (911), if needed.

  1. Obtain victim’s medical records and signed parental consent for emergency treatment for EMS personnel.

  2.  Assign adult staff member to remain with victim until arrival of parents.

  3. * or call Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222, if poisoning is suspected

 

SECURITY

Camp base are stablished in spaces around the park away from public paths or crowded spots such as playgrounds or shelters to avoid crossing path with public visiting the park.

Mentors at each community are in charge to create a human perimeter around the space the children play to allow them to keep a direct line of sight observation, this allows them to avoid a child going far from the community unnoticed and spot any hiker or runner getting close to the group in addition to be able to respond immediately if assistance is required.

Mentors are trained to do not allow curious passer by (with or without children) to intend to mingle with our community of children to avoid accidents due the risky play nature of the program.

Children every morning are reminded of the safety rules for the community. Due the nature of the program most of the days the children stay focused in their own play at the same area from beginning to end, this made easier to keep safe the community from any danger.

The program routine is mostly the same every day from gathering during the morning, welcoming circle to check the safety and community rules, talk about important information related with the park (water issues, wind advisory, storm chances) and at the end of the morning a closing circle to put together the details of the events of the day; in between the children are free to engage in their own interests and goals for the day but aligned with the rules observed during the welcoming circle.

In case of unexpected lightening children and families will seek shelter at a nearby pavilion previously identified as a safe (no close from large trees or water) until the tracker shows the storm 3 miles away.

In case of tornado, hurricane warning or tropical storm, classes will be cancelled.

 

 

 

THE PROGRAM AT A GLANCE

IMAGINA Parent & Child Institute

Families engage in circle time at the beginning and end of the day, signing songs and reading books. A sensory activity for the day is scheduled, ending the 2 hours program with a nature walk.

ADVENTURES in the Forest

Children spend the three hours program mostly in the same spot (base camp) exploring and creating with natural materials in the area. The beginning and end of the day starts with a circle time with songs, stories and review of the rules and safety norms of the program like no running away from the base camp and being sure they have a Mentor on their sight at all the times. Nature walks using the trails is an almost daily activity.  

 

LOST CHILD PLAN

If a child separates from the community, the procedures for finding a lost child will be activated immediately.

  • The rest of the children will be keep at a safe area under supervision of a Mentor or group of parents.

  • The Director and Program Coordinator will be notified.

  • A systematic immediate search will be issue, starting with surrounding areas.

  • If the search is unsuccessful the Rangers at the park will be notified same as the police.

  • Parents will be notified (if apply).

 

FIRE PREVENTION

The use of fire is unlikely during the half-day program at Oleta River State Park. Although it is rare for the community to use the bonfire for cooking activities, this is made with the previous approval of the main office. Every year during the training week part of it is dedicated to fire prevention and how to manage a campfire activity.

Mentors working with a group of children in a cookout activity has to comply with a check list of duties to verify what is available and possible to do at the site, determine who and how to act in case of an emergency, how to treat burns, assign a responsible to lead the evacuation, a responsible to do a roll call and confirm the numbers of children / parents in the safe space and who will call 911 if the fire can’t be fought with an extinguisher.

SCREEN APPLICANT AND BACKGROUND CHECKS

Every year during the month of August and before resuming activities all the staff is required to present a criminal nationwide background check, the organization runs in addition a state background check and sex offender registry check.

The organization doesn’t work with volunteers for the activities related with children.

At least 90% of the staff has a child attending the program  or goes to work with their own child, their started as a parent at the program and applied after minimum a year of being part of the community to join the training for Mentor or Facilitator.  10% of the staff was referred by a family at the community. 90% of the families at the program are connected via church, club or they are relatives.

 

 

TRAINING

All the staff complete the CPR / Pediatric re-certification every two years during the month of August before resuming the session. New staff is required a CPR and First Aid certification before to be scheduled to work with a community.

Each year, during the first week of August, all the staff receive a week of training in diverse topics as recognition of the flora and wildlife of the parks where the program is offered, Conscious Discipline, Survival skills, Skills for life as teamwork, persuasion, Change, Conflict resolution, Personal Mission and Vision are also thought.

Permanent additional topics review every year at the annual training and new staff orientation training are:

  • Chain of command.

  • Supervision (ratios, formation, method)

  • How to redirect behavior (Conscious Discipline)

  • How to recognize child abuse.

  • Report of Injury and illness

  • Lost child plan.

  • Thunderstorm and lightening safety.

  •  

 ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION PLAN

At MNP we promote and practice to leave a minimal ecological footprint at the sites we operate as a part of our mission as an outdoor program. Families that are part of our communities are environmental aware and practice the use of recyclable containers and environmentally friendly products as part of their daily routine same as the program with the supplies used for the program activities.

Communities moves constantly to different areas of the park to avoid the erosion of a specific area and the impact of constant human presence for the vegetation and wildlife.

Being a Forest Kindergarten Model Program, children learn to play with natural materials available at the camp area, as a program we don’t bring handmade toys to the program, but only non-disposable / reusable supplies strictly needed for the operation such as first aid kit, tarps, tools and utensils.

An important part of the Mission of MNP is not to be an environmental program teaching children to fix what adults did but to raise children outside, in nature with the main goal to grow a consequent generation concerned about the land where they were born, connected with their community, caring and understanding the importance and symbiosis to share the same environment with the local wildlife and high value about the ancestral history.

Solid waste is minimal during our visit to the park, any garbage produced during the morning is separate before the end of the program. Garbage is disposed in the plastic bins provided by the park and recyclables are brought with the team to be disposed adequately at home.

Picking up trash is an everyday duty but specially on Mondays, first time in the morning after welcoming circle the community carries bags to pick up garbage found during their nature walks and/or around  the camp area for the day.

We avoid (and ask parents to) using repellent and sunblock in spray.

 

INTERPRETIVE PLAN

Miami Nature PLAYschool programs
are designed to positively connect young children and their families with nature, creating opportunities to stimulate their innate curiosity about the Natural World.

 

We gather families to build child-oriented, playful communities whose main goal is to support the social, emotional and physical development of their children in a healthy, nurturing environment making use of nature as a tool to connect mind, body and space.

 

Runakay Project, the name given to our organization is based in the Quechua language of the Inkas and means “Human Nature Project”. The Inka empire, as an old society with solid values than you can still see and feel between the people in cities of the Peruvian’s mountains, we adopted as a foundation for the program and the mentoring given to the children the following values, norms and educational goals of this ancient culture:

 

We Value:

The Yachay – The Knowledge

The Munay – The Love

The Llank’ay – The work

 

Our Norms:

Ama map – Be Honest

Ama opa – Be Lively

Ama llunkhu – Be Worthy

Ama sipiq – Be Respectful of all lives

Ama maqlla – Be Altruistic

 

Our educational goals*:

From where I come?

What is my contribution to my community?

Where do we go?

 

*The educational goals, same as with the Inka’s society is not about individual knowledge but about social contribution and generation of power, as a community. The journey of life starts with an individual question (specially in a city of immigrants) and evolve to becoming part of something bigger and how we move forward together as a community.

  

Our Mentors aim to guide children at the Forest Kindergarten into experiences that nurture their connection to nature and their communities (Place based curriculum), developing awareness and care for our planet in an organic way. Our Facilitators help parents at IMAGINA and First Wonders (Baby program), to discover the importance of becoming a good role model to foster in their children a wide range of personal and interpersonal skills that will serve them for a lifetime while actively modeling curiosity and engagement in nature allowing children's interest to lead the day.

Same as Oleta State Park goals, MNP has as part of its mission to increase awareness about the history of the Tequesta Indians as a first habitants of the Biscayne area since our program are imparted in three different areas that includes Arch Creek, Oleta River and Miami River.

MNP, also encourage parents to connect with the partners where we impart the program to recognize and support in their mission; some of the activities organized last year were multiple clean ups to Pelican Island, Enchanted Forest Elaine Gordon Park, Arch Creek Preserve. Clean ups with Surfrider, Plastic Fisherman, volunteer work with Friends of Oleta, Watershed Action Lab including a project to build oyster lines at the canal next our school property and the Seabird Station Hospital that includes recovered animals release in our school property. Support in the eradication of air potato at Enchanted Forest, reactivation of “Friends of Enchanted Forest” foundation. Donation of plants for the Butterfly Garden, support of the restoration efforts organizing a day to remove Australian Pine as a Christmas event with Friends of Oleta State Park.

Other organizations and grass root efforts we support in US are: The Finca Morada, Miami Seed Share, The Bounty Project, Swamped in the Glades, Urban green works, Follow Ladybug between others outside the country as Manke Chile, Tinkuy Marka Peru, Cochahuasi Animal Sanctuary in Cusco-Peru, Nurture play Peru and Barefoot Learning Peru.

Organizations we support and are part of: East Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools – Erafans, Association of Forest Kindergartens – Afka, California Association of Forest Schools-Cafs, Northern Illinois Nature Preschools Association-Ninpa, Florida Association for the Education of Young Children – Faeyc, Natural Start Alliance, North American Association for the Environmental Education-Naaee, Canadian Child Care federation-Cccf between others.

As a program based at public spaces, we encourage between our families the support, participation and promotion using social media and between the community of families the events and needs of our partners.

 

Contact Numbers

o Concession owner/operator/manager(s)

Patricia Leon, Director – 786 499 5726

Karina Simon, Coordinator -305 972 3369

Ursula Castaneda, Coordinator – 786 241 8087

o Team

Kristen Adsit, Team Leader – 917 609 8595

Alicia Angel, Facilitator – 954 654 9973

o Local Park contacts such as manager and assistant manager

Ranger Station -  305 919 1846

Charles Smith, Manager – 786 367 6852

o Emergency contacts

   Life Treatening Emergency - 911

   Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222

  North Miami Beach Police Department – 305 949 5500 

MISSION STATEMENT

Miami Nature PLAYschool intends to provide nature immersion programs to foster physical , emotional and mental balance through an authentic connection with the natural world. Nature immersion is defined as,

 

“unstructured free time in nature resulting in an intimate, deep and personal connection to the natural world.”

Our goal is to increase awareness of, and connection to the natural world in order to foster compassion and empathy for the earth and all its inhabitants. We encourage learners to engage all their senses and increase their observational skills through commitment to child-driven flow learning, emergent curriculum, and an inquiry-based learning style. The flow of learning is interest-led and determined by the natural rhythms of the seasons. The learning process emerges organically with no overlying structure, schedule or agenda.


Part of our mission is to engage in careful note-taking diary to record each year’s plant growth, and animal and insect activity, to contribute to a database for future communities of learners. It is our goal to reach communities who do not have access to this type of experience, such as people who live in urban environments, as well as those who have a predisposition towards nature.                                                                                                                 

         "If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the

          earth before we ask them to save it.”

                                                                                                                                                  - David Sobel


 

Adventures in the Forest PLAYcamp, provides an entirely outdoor education program that is distinguished by its commitment to:

  • 100% outdoor long-term nature immersion.

  • Sinergy and collaboration between the family and the program.

  • Community based.

  • Learning process based in Interest-led, emergent and inquiry-based approach.

  • Risky Play engagement.

  • Emphasis on authentic, raw, unstructured play.

Our program is designed to integrate children with nature and engage them in quality outdoor activities that stimulate their innate curiosity about the natural world.

Our mentoring style encourages children to learn through direct experience with nature.

Friedrich Frobel, a German educator, opened the world’s first outdoor kindergarten, more than 150 years ago with the belief that young children should play in nature, away from an emphasis on too many numbers and letters. Today, Germany has more than 2,000 of these Waldkindergartens, or “Forest Kindergartens” in which children spend their entire class time outdoors year-round.

KEY PRINCIPLES

Several key principles distinguish Miami Nature PLAYschool Nature-Based Early Childhood Education Model from regular preschools and other outdoor programs:

 

Total commitment to nature immersion regardless of the weather or season.

Nature immersion is defined by Erin Kenny as:

"unstructured free time in nature, resulting in an intimate, deep and personal connection to the natural world.”

Extended and uninterrupted nature immersion provides experience and connection with the rhythms of nature, allowing children to find their own rhythms when spending a long time outdoors. Nature immersion leads to a suspension of linear time and a sense of timelessness in our hurried lives, which is necessary for creating bonds to place, self and living beings within the space. Close contact with nature contributes to young children's motor, sensory, social, emotional, moral and cognitive development, as well as a child's physical health and mental wellbeing.

*Interest-led (child-driven) Flow Learning
When children become interested and excited about something, their sense of wonder leads to hunger for knowledge about that subject. Children also retain more information when it is dispensed at that moment their curiosity is piqued. Deep learning takes place when children are engaged in something that interests them and that is relevant to them.

Read the Article: Child Led Vs Structured Learning


*Waldorf and Montessori-inspired Emergent Curriculum
Mentors have knowledge, skills and abilities that they draw on to guide children based on what nature presents each day. Many teachable moments arise spontaneously, based on the weather, the season, and our daily nature discoveries. When children's interests guide their education, the curriculum arises naturally. Documenting this learning is important, as children are actively involved in recording their recollections, interests and discoveries.

Read the Article: Waldorf and Forest Kindergartens

*Place-based Education in a Permanent Location
We experience and learn about the natural world in the geographical location where we live. This helps children connect with and care for their own home environment. A permanent location enables children to witness seasonal changes and human foot print impact to their specific landscape. Young children's sense of place and belonging stem from their direct interactions with their immediate

Community: the people, places, flora and fauna around them. They feel rooted, connected and involved—leading to caring for their own home environment. Intimate knowledge of a place develops responsibility and desire to protect that place. Environmental stewardship at a later age flows from early personal bonding and experience with a place. In natural settings, children develop a sense of emotional security and learn that there are specific places in nature where they feel comfort and can calm themselves.


Read the Article: Placed Based Education

*Inquiry-based Teaching Style
Asking open-ended questions. Questions for which there are really no wrong answers—elicits rich conversation. As children embark on their own explorations and are encouraged to express their own ideas, they learn to trust their observations and discover there is more than one answer to any question. This strategy leads to more divergent thinking and greater problem-solving skills.


Read the Article: Inquiry Based Teaching Style

*Positive Reinforcement Approach
We want to encourage positive behavior rather than highlight misbehavior. Young children tend to gravitate towards activities that get them attention and reprimanding a child often encourages the continuation of poor behavior. (For many children, negative attention is better than no attention.) Children feel self-pride when they are noticed and complimented for qualities such as helpfulness, generosity and kindness.

Read the Article: Positive Reinforcement for Children.


*Emphasis on Individual Empowerment and Group Bonding
We want our children to recognize both their own worth and abilities and those of others. Competition is prevalent in our world, pitting us against each other. The Forest Kindergarten model values cooperation and teamwork—the sense we can accomplish more when we work together. We also want children to develop the ability to be comfortable on their own.

Furthermore, we respect that some children need time to develop their own understanding and may wish to work by themselves.

Read the Article: A better way to teach our children?

*Respect for Others, Self, and the Living Earth
Living harmoniously with others makes for a more peaceful world. Treating ourselves with gentle kindness and respect flows outward and results in the ability for higher compassion towards others. Seeing ourselves as an integral part of the natural world leads us to want to protect and preserve all aspects of it.

Read the Article: Slowing down and Connecting…


*Authentic Play
Recent research shows young children learn best through direct hands-on experience and through play, music and art. All of these stimulate imagination and creativity.

Read the article: Adult Role in Child Play

*Exposure to Moderate Risk
Children exposed to moderate risk are encouraged to develop their own risk assessment and response skills. This results in fewer injuries. Children learn how to fall and pick themselves back up, and develop self-confidence by facing challenges successfully.

Read the article: Benefits of Risky Play

Life Skills Gained at the Program:
Social skills, conflict resolution, negotiation, body awareness, respect, instilled kindness, compassion, empathy, emotional balance and risk assessment.

Kindergarten Readiness Skills Developed in the Programs:
Problem-solving, critical thinking, divergent thinking, excitement about learning, desire to learn, creativity, imagination, willingness to take risks, peer communication, emotional resilience, low frustration level and high perseverance, cooperation and teamwork.


Specific Natural Science Subjects Studied in the Forest Kindergarten Approach:

Forest ecosystems, biology, botany, ethnobotany, etymology, ornithology, zoology, math, engineering.


ETHOS - PHILOSOPHY AND APPROACH

Etymology of Ethos: Ethos refers to the character, credibility, and moral values a group or individual possesses. It is a Greek word that refers to the character of a person or group.

At Miami Nature PLAYschool we believe that children, especially those between the ages of 3 to 8, learn best through direct experience with the natural world. Our goal is to tap into their sense of wonder about nature while teaching basic environmental and natural science principles. We promote individual empowerment and group bonding.


Respect for all living beings and how to minimize our impact on the earth are role modeled by the Mentors.  The learning process flow organically from what nature presents us with each day.


In the Forest Kindergarten approach, Mentors further support playful learning by:

  • Exposing children to new ideas and information.

  • Asking open-ended questions to spark children’s thinking.

  • Offering children freedom to explore their interests and to make their own choices.

  • Encouraging children accountability of their own actions. 

  • Providing inspiration but letting go of the outcome.

  • Redirecting behavior without judgment.

Key Words in our program are:

· Forest Kindergarten - School
· Place-Based Education
· Conscious Discipline
· Critical Thinking

· Outdoor Classroom

· All weather
· Life Skills
· Freedom &

· Accountability

MENTORS

At Miami Nature PLAYschool, the team of Mentors are conformed mostly by experienced parents who became and participated as part of the community with their own children before deciding to leave their main proffesion to become Mentors who believes in the impact of nature and unstructured play in a healthy Social and Emotional development of the children.


All the Miami Nature PLAYschool Instructors have passed a criminal background check, hold a Pediatric CPR Certificates and practice Conscious Discipline. Mentor-Learner ratio is 1:5.


Please follow this link to our website to meet our team of Mentors and Facilitators: MNP TEAM

COMMITMENT TO YOUR CHILD'S PHYSICAL SAFETY AND EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING

As naturalists, we are committed to inspiring respect for the Earth and all of its creatures. This includes modeling and fostering respect for self and for others at all the times.

  • We shun competitiveness in favor of cooperative activities, guiding children into co-creative adventures.

  • We have a zero-tolerance policy for hitting, grabbing, pushing, name-calling, aggressiveness or any other demeaning behavior.

  • We empower children to learn how to work with others while simultaneously enhancing their individuality. We will speak respectfully to your child and model appropriate responses to the range of your child's emotions.

  • We will hold and carry your child if it is necessary for their feeling of safety.

  • If your child ever reports any type of negative experience at our program, we ask that you please bring it to our Lead Mentor and/or our Program Director’s attention.

  • We will all communicate and work as a team to support your child's concerns and/or feelings.


MONITORING CHILDREN’S BASIC COMFORT NEEDS

 

Remember that this is an entirely outdoor program. Make sure that you and your child are both okay with that.


Clothing
Your child may not experience heat or cold in the same way that you do, resist overdressing him/her. Dressing your child appropriately is CRITICAL to the success of our child enjoying the program.
We adhere to the motto:

"There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing choices.”

Here are a few simple guidelines for clothing:

Please label your children's clothing (Including shoes) . If you don't wish to permanently mark the clothing, you can tie a colored ribbon to the clothing and write the name on it. It’s better to send your child to our program dressed in old clothing.

  • All children are required to come dressed for the weather and for messy play. We recommend clothes with elastic waistbands—no zippers, snaps, belts or suspenders as these greatly complicate bathroom time outdoors.  

  • Jackets must be waterproof to keep children dry during a heavy rain. Rain-pants or rain boots aren’t necessary due our tropical weather.

  • The ideal way to keep a child comfortable during a very rare cold and windy day, as s/he romps through nature, is to dress them in layers. Layers should be loose-fitting to trap heat easily.

  • Provide one full set of extra clothing in a labeled Ziploc bag—this can be thrift store gear—to be always in the backpack. Shoes must be without laces (to foster independence), waterproof and/or quick-drying. (Crocs are good.)

Most importantly: 

keep a positive attitude about blustery cold rainy days as some of the most fun days can have been in this type of weather.

Our goal is to keep children comfortable so they can thoroughly enjoy the experience of playing in and exploring the natural environment.


Hunger/Thirst
Parents are encouraged to feed their children an adequate breakfast since outdoor time can increase appetite and thirst. We often remind children to drink water to keep their bodies well-hydrated. We do not have a scheduled time for snack, although we encourage children to identify their own body needs for nourishment. Fruity Friday, water time or special occasions are the only time we insist the children all come together as a group to share food or rehydrate.  

At times, a snack fills some emotional need or a need for down time. However, we don't want food to become overly relied on for comfort and security, and find alternate ways to engage a child needing that extra something.

Snack

  • Please try to not send wheat, dairy, canned fish or any refined sugar, artificial colors or flavors.

  • If your child has food allergies, please let us know to warn other families about prohibited allergens.


Toilet proficiency
Although we can handle occasional accidents, all children must be mostly toilet-proficient in order to attend our program. Children must be able to know when they have to go to the bathroom and be able to communicate that. Many children choose to pee outdoors in a designated place. However, we also have a portable toilet. We regularly prompt the children to check in with themselves about whether they have a need to go potty. We allow exceptions for younger toddlers ready to participate in the program but who are not ready to use the potty.Children needs to be prepare to use a portable toilet in the forest, for the group of children safety, Mentors can't leave the campsite to walk a child to a restroom even if it is close by, before joining the program be sure you and your child are comfortable with.

PRACTICAL SKILLS

APPROACH CONTENT
 

The Forest Kindergarten Approach allows the inclusion of subjects such as nature, science, art, literature, math and more. These are brought in an organic way. The activities and learning opportunities born at the site will be consistent with the young child’s dreamy, playful approach to life. Nature offers opportunities for creative and imaginative play, activities for manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination that allow the intelligence of the child to penetrate the fingers, and practice in developing language art and social skills.

The following are some additional points that help clarify learning in our program:

  • Children learn through visual, auditory, and kinesthetic means.

  • Children also learn by observing; therefore, Mentors and parents are conscious models of behavior for the children.

  • Every child has an inner timetable for growth and therefore his/her patterns and ways will be respected

  • We recognize the advantages of a mixed-age classroom in which, through play, the children help one another to grow and learn intellectually and emotionally.


Our learning environment is optimized when the mentor, parents and children are partners. This partnership
emerges when the roles of mentor and participant become interchangeable. In other words, taking a pause to notice what a child has to teach is equally as important as what the adults present to the children.

Mentors at the program and parents at home create an atmosphere where children discover meaningful and functional learning.

Daily Rhythm 
At the program, children create their own routine for the morning and can include:

  • Circle Time (9:30a.m.)

  • Free Play

  • Nature Walks

  • Climbing Trees

  • Sand - Water Play 

  • Mud - Sand Kitchen

  • Forest Diary

  • Story Time

  • Goodbye Circle (12:30p.m.)

COMMUNICATING WITH THE COMMUNITY

Communications with the community are made via chat, MNP uses WhatsApp for all relevant communications with families related to the program. We ask families to respect the privacy of the group as well as not to share information related to the sale or offering of services unless it is their own business and also not to abuse the opportunity. Likewise, if it is a personal issue that concerns only your family as well as specific questions or doubts, we would appreciate it if you communicate directly via private message with your Team Leader, if he/she considers that it is a subject that may be of interest. for the community, we ourselves will be forwarding our response to the community and / or answering it in the chat directly.

We understand that you may not want to use the application chosen by us for personal reasons, even for which you have the right to withdraw and not participate in the chat under your own responsibility since you will not receive messages, notifications or sensitive information. MNP and its mentors are not responsible for forwarding this information using another way and we want to ask in advance for your understanding.

COMMUNICATING WITH MENTORS
If you need to communicate future plans concerning your child such as absences, late arrivals, vacations, medical information, or family situations, please do so by emailing our office through Contact@MiamiNaturePlayschool.Com or sending a private message to the team leader.   

If you need to convey time-sensitive information, such as an imminent absence or late arrival, please send a text to the chat group with the details. Please do not convey logistical information verbally to the Mentors during the program. Because our attention is focused on the children, we may forget, a text is better.


Personal toys and other valuable artifacts in the program

  • Please have your child keep his /her own toys at home or the car, this is needed for the mentors to be able to put in practice the conscious discipline approach in a fair way with all the children in the community.

  • Mentors don't will be responsible for lost or damaged toys or artifacts, being in an open space our job is to keep the community safe, mentors can't leave their post to look for lost objects in the forest and or intervene if the children are using the object the wrong way and/or getting muddy or dirty, parents are responsible if they allowed the child bring an object that has an emotional value without considering the possible consequences, same goes for lost objects, we ask parents to be responsible to look for the toy / object at the spaces the community visited during the day with the child. 

We will send dates for the Show and Tell days when children can bring their favorite toy/artifact and share it with the community.


Tardiness, punctuality and attendance

Use the chat to send messages for tardiness or absences. Mentors do not answer calls or texts after 9:30am. Only call if it is an emergency. They are responsible for turning off the sound on their cellphones after 9:30am to focus 100% on the children.


Please notify via email or text if you and your family will be away from the program for multiple days due to family vacations.


SICK CHILD POLICY FOR THE OUTDOOR CLASSROOM
We do not allow children to attend if they have had a fever, diarrhea, or vomiting within the previous 24 hours.

ABSENCE POLICY
 

Sick days:

  • If your child is sick and cannot attend the program, please send a text to the Team Leader. Please do not use the chat after 8:30p.m. or before 7:00a.m. out of respect to the other families rest. If you know in advance that you will miss a day (vacation days, etc.) please send a private message to your child's Community Team Leader or Karina Simon, Program Coordinator to 305 972 3369.

  • Please do not verbally pass information to Mentors at the beginning or the end of the day about upcoming absences or others. It is a important time of the day welcoming the children and they may forget, always a written message or email is better and will allow us to remember your request or need. 

  • Please do not keep busy the Mentors during the Drop off and/or pick up time, their main duty is to keep safe and on their eyesight the group of children, they need to be 100% focusing in observing the children at all the times and a minimal distraction can result in an accident or a conflict we need to address.

  • If you arrive early, avoid mingling with the group of children, a friendly and fast greeting to the other children is always welcome but if an adult stays all the other adults will have the right to do it and it will become a handicap in keeping the children on eyesight for the mentors. Remember we are in a classroom without walls and every corner is the perfect hiding place or escape route for a child in the middle of the adaptation process. 

  • Always be sure to accompany your child until the entrance of the camp. We require that you formally hand over responsibility for your child to our team. Please, don't stay in the parking lot and allow your child to run to the camp. Sometimes the Mentors are focusing on an specific situation and even if you think their view is towards you they can be focusing on an event closer to them, not noticing you or your child. During pick up walk all the way to the site, don't intend for your child to run towards you since that most of the time will incur on the other children (specially the youngest) to run behind your child as a game. 

  • When you drop off or pick up your child, be sure to be hands free (if possible leave the cellphones in the car) and focus on your child and the process. 

  • If you have a baby or a young child that fell asleep in the car and you can't leave it to pick up your child, ask for help from other parents via chat. We appreciate your understanding in advance but the Mentors can't leave their post to walk your child to you.


Extreme weather closure
In case of extreme weather, and during the regular school year, we follow the Miami-Dade School District lead. You can find out whether the MD School District has called for a storm or hurricane warning or a late arrival day by listening to the radio, checking their website http://storms.dadeschools.net/ or by calling the Miami-Dade District office for a recorded message.


If MD schools are cancelled due to extreme weather (local news), our sessions are also cancelled. Sessions can be cancelled also following the closure decision and/or recommendation of the park rangers due to imminent weather. Days missed due to stormy days will NOT be added to the end of the PLAYschool year.

SICK CHILD POLICY FOR THE OUTDOOR CLASSROOM

The best and really only place where your child can be properly nursed through an illness is at home. The classroom is a busy, sometimes noisy place and not the right environment for a sick child.


If your child has a high fever, deep cough, a cold, rash, nausea, diarrhea, stiff neck and headache, hand-foot and mouth disease, difficulty breathing or wheezing, complaints or severe pain, swine flu H1N1 symptoms, unusual yellow color in the skin or eyes, chicken pox or any viral or infectious condition, please do not bring/send him/her back to the program until the child has been symptom free for at least 24 hours. 

If your child develops lice, please stay at home and look for an over the counter treatment or seek for the help of a professional. The child will be able to return to the program after confirming he/she is free of them.

REQUIRED SESSIONS

Families will have to participate at the upcoming required sessions when scheduled:

Conscious Discipline Workshop (Adults only)

Any workshop of Conscious Discipline by Becky Bailey (or other recognized speaker) of 8  hours or more (no pre-recorded or asynchronous) will be valid if sending all the documentation in advance before the beginning of our own workshops. If it can be validated by the Certified representative of Conscious Discipline, it will be approved as a valid to take instead of our workshop.

Dates and hours are included in your Investment Calendar and contract, please reffer to these documents or contact us directly to confirm. 

Rediscovering Ourselves

Online

1 session of 1.30hrs

To be scheduled in different times and dates, invitation will be send via chat.

HOLIDAYS AND BREAKS

Sessions are cancelled in case of Hurricane Warning and are not subject to recovery unless the closing of the space is longer than a week and the program doesn't have an alternative location to move the program until the parks reopen.

Holidays and Breaks to consider during the upcoming 2023 - 2024 PLAYschool Year.

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