Enrolling your five year old child at The Mayapple School for a “Kinderforest” year might just be the alternative you’re looking for. Applications are now available: Student Application 20182019

What is Kinderforest?

  • Kinderforest is a supplementary program designed for children who will be 5 years old by October 5th, 2018.
  • Kinderforesters will generally be included in the multi-age classroom with three and four-year-old students in the mornings, and will separate in the afternoons for additional small-group instruction in topics mainly focusing on literacy and mathematics, but also including music, art, cultural, and environmental education. Additionally, Kinderforesters will occasionally participate in longer, all-day forest trips without their younger peers.
  • Kinderforesters can attend The Mayapple School for four full days per week M – Th; or 2 full days ( M & W) and 2 afternoons (Tu & Th) each week. Enrolled Kinderforesters who wish to also attend on Fridays will be included in the regular preschool program on those days.
  • Kinderforest tuition is the same as preschool tuition for the equivalent time. The one time registration and supply fee is an added $75 on top of preschool registration fee.


What does the Kinderforest Curriculum include?

  • The Kinderforest curriculum naturally builds upon our preschool curriculum, which you can read about here. Your child will be given opportunities to continue to grow in these areas.
  • Ecological Literacy: True to what is developmentally appropriate at this age, the focus this year in ecological literacy will be “speaking nature’s language” and loving and kindness in nature. The curriculum includes experiencing the arts and other curriculum areas in nature, including listening to and creating stories and legends about nature as well as observing and documenting natural phenomenon. We will identify local birds and their songs, local trees and their leaves, and animals and animal signs. Children will care for some living things in their own environment, build a fire and understand basic principals of how fire moves, and describe and order some basic cycles on earth, such as life cycles and the water cycle. Our ecological literacy curriculum follows the change of the seasons and children’s interests.
  • English Literacy: You might be wondering, “Will my child learn how to read?” Learning to read involves a continuum of skill building with many parts, including associating sounds with letters, breaking spoken words into their smallest parts, blending sounds to form words, identifying patterns in word families and spelling, memorizing sight words, and building fluency. Kinderforest children who are successful with blending and segmenting the sounds in words are ready to “sound out” simple three letter words with short vowels, such as “cat,” and will be reading emergent readers by the end of the year. Children who are not yet at this level will work on activities designed to help them “hear” the individual sounds within words and identify the letters that go with these sounds. We use the multi-sensory, sequential Orton-Gillingham approach to learning phonics using a variety of resources. All children will practice proper handwriting methods (top to bottom and left to right) using manuscript (non-cursive) writing. We will add sight words along the way to help us increase fluency in writing and reading. Children will have frequent opportunities for writing and reading for meaning. Because five and six-year-old children have abilities for understanding far greater than what they can write and write, read-alouds will be used for vocabulary building and comprehension.  In this area, children will be exposed to fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and song.
  • Math: The Kinderforest math curriculum will focus on numeracy but also include other math strands. We use many manipulatives, including those designed by Maria Montessori, that are simple yet attractive so that children can focus on the essential mathematical concepts and move more quickly along the continuum from concrete to abstract. No single curriculum is used. Depending on your child’s needs, we may work on:
    • Identifying, naming, matching amounts, comparing, counting with one to one correspondence, and writing numerals of increasing amounts
    • Completing and continuing patterns of increasing complexity both with shapes and numbers
    • Concept of zero and place value with larger numbers
    • Identifying, naming, categorizing, and comparing 2 and 3 dimensional shapes
    • Addition and subtraction with whole numbers
    • Subitizing
    • Ordering & ordinal numbers
    • The calendar (days of the week, months of the year, etc)
    • Fractions
    • Measurement, graphing, and data collection
  • Music: Kinderforesters will be introduced to the keyboard and some basic principals of keyboarding with the help of keyboarding games and Alfred’s Music book series. The goal of the keyboarding curriculum is to introduce some key concepts of music, such as musical notes, while developing interest and experience as they begin to see themselves as musicians.
  • Social Studies and Science – Kinderforesters will explore peace, natural phenomena, and other topics along with the rest of The Mayapple School based mainly on student interest. Kinderforesters will also work on beginning map making and reading skills, including identification of basic land forms. Other topics covered include flags and cultural facts from different countries around the globe and the design of science experiments exploring basic phenomena such as shadows and water flow.
  • Visual Art – Students will continue to explore texture, shape, color, and other properties through process-based art. Kinderforesters will also add drawing from observation to their art work.


Parents might be looking for something different for any number of reasons. Here are some that might mean Mayapple is the right fit for your family.

  • You want your child to be comfortable outdoors and grow her environmental literacy. Connection with the natural world is necessary for the health of our bodies and minds, as well as the health of the planet. Attending The Mayapple School is one way to nurture that connection.
  • You want your child to be a leader. Multi-age groupings are the natural groupings found within our communities, and have been recognized by famous and influential educators, such as Maria Montessori and Rudolf Steiner, as the optimum learning environment for young children. The developmental stage of the five or six-year-old child who “knows it all,” makes it an optimum time for a first experience of the joys and responsibilities of leadership. Because the Kinderforesters will be included with the rest of the group in the mornings, they will have opportunities to develop this capacity.
  • You want your child to learn to read at her own pace. The optimal time to learn to read can vary for each child, and emergent reading skills can be found in developmentally “typical” four, five, six, and seven-year-olds. Yet Kindergarten standards push the blending and decoding of simple three letter words for everyone to age five. Some children do not have the pre-requisite knowledge, such as the ability to separate a word into its smallest sounds, to achieve this skill, while others come to Kindergarten having mastered it. The end result in a typical classroom can result in hours of un-necessary instruction, drill, or learning “games” for your child—either because she masters the content quickly and is waiting for the others before she is allowed to move on, or because it is not yet the optimal time to teach her. Time spent outdoors, learning about art, music, or other “non-critical” content areas may thus be sacrificed.
  • You want your child to avoid screen time. Screens can be addictive, especially for young children, and too much comes with a host of consequences.
  • Child-centered learning is important to you. Maybe you’re interested in home-schooling your child in the future, but for whatever reason, you’re not able to do so this year. You’re looking for instruction that’s tailored to your child and opportunities to be involved in your child’s school life for an easier transition.
  • You’re committed to protecting your child’s developmental needs. Maybe you’re interested in sending your child to public school in the future, because you know that there are lots of wonderful teachers out there, as well as a diverse student body that your child can learn from. But you also know that young children have different needs than older children, and that teachers and schools may operate within a curriculum framework that emphasizes the skills that are tested and reported. This means that some of the things that are developmentally necessary for five and six-year-old children, such as lots of movement, practice cooperating and negotiating, participating in chores, and free play may be barely or only accidentally included. At The Mayapple School, we protect young children’s developmental needs because we believe that ignoring the results of decades worth of research on child development is foolhardy at best. Careful consideration of the learning environment and the ages that would learn best in such an environment is important.

In Virginia, children who will be five years old by September 30th are eligible to enroll in Kindergarten. The compulsory age of schooling in Virginia is 5 years of age. The Mayapple School “Kinderforest” program is a part-time supplementary program and is not considered a substitute by the state for Kindergarten at a private or public school.  As such parents of enrolled Kinderforest students should notify their local public school board that they do not wish their child to attend school until the following year because their child is not prepared to attend school, OR notify the school division superintendent of their intention to homeschool by August 15th.