Portland Forest School - Curriculum

What Children Learn at the Forest School

Any lesson that can happen in a classroom can also happen outside. We take academic experiences to the next level by immersing students in nature every day. Read on to learn more.

Forest School Virtual Open House

When:  TBD

Attend our Virtual Forest School Open House. Meet and talk with our teachers and Principal through video conference. Learn how our nature-first approach to education cultivates lifelong learning and resiliency.

Core subjects include:

Naturalist Studies Reading, writing, life and earth sciences, taxonomy, history, and more.
Plants and Botany Life sciences, ethnography, nutrition, food science, and more.
Wildlife Tracking Ecology, wildlife, empathy, pattern recognition, mapping, and systems awareness.
Forest Craft Handcraft, thoughtfulness, perseverance, innovation, creativity, and resiliency.
Woodworking Math, handcraft, tool safety and care, sustainability, and self-reliance.
Ecology Economics, statistics (for all ages), biology, scientific method, and systems thinking.
Ornithology (birds) Empathy, art, observation, silence, awareness, patience, and listening.
Social Tracking Team leadership, presentation, community skills, economics, and ethics.
Silent Movement Body awareness, balances, self-control and discipline, physical health, and respect.

We cultivate intelligence, awareness, and adaptability through the art and science of tracking. A tracker reads tracks like letters on the ground, stringing them into the stories of the animals who left them. By learning to survive and live with nature, students develop agile thinking, planning and research skills, creativity, and a profound awareness of nature and systems thinking.

Why Forest School?

Experiential education outdoors immerses students in their learning in ways that traditional education models can’t. With a holistic, learner-centered focus, students become invested in their education and foster a lifelong relationship with the land, their mentors and classmates, and the community. They are allowed and even encouraged, to push their own boundaries through supported risks, teaching them independence, resilience, and perseverance outside of four walls. Instead of stand-alone subjects taught in a vacuum, skills and lessons are woven together, becoming transferrable across environments and connecting students to the world around them.

Forest Skills can be fire-by-friction, wood carving, stone tools, fiber arts, and even campfire cooking, but our studies do not stop there. Through study in forest craft, students build their own experience with our shared human heritage and form a deep-rooted desire for continued learning. As students grow in knowledge and skills, new avenues for exploration open naturally. Outdoor skills aren’t just limited to the more tangible archery and navigation; the natural world also builds self-esteem and confidence, positive relationship development, and creative problem-solving.

We draw inspiration from many educators: Maria Montessori, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ray Mears, Jon Young, Daniel Quinn, Nancy J. Turner, and many others.

Our Grade Divisions

We will be adding grades every year. In Fall 2020 we offer the following grades:

  • Kindergarten
  • Grade 1
  • Grade 2
  • Grade 3
  • Grade 4
  • Grade 5
  • Middle School - Grades 6th, 7th, 8th

Lifelong Learning

A kindergarten student may learn about engineering and thermodynamics through building a shelter or explore pattern recognition by mapping local bird movements. An elementary-age student might practice writing and communication by writing their own field guide to local edible plant species. A middle school student may research hand-crafted boats through history and develop their own design using AutoCAD… then build it.

Our goal is to prepare our students for any path in life and empower them to choose a direction that serves their community and the greater world. A goal of Forest School is to not just teach students day-to-day but to engage their innate curiosity to learn and inspire them to seek new avenues of comprehension, turning students into lifelong learners. When subject matter is made relevant through practical and transferable skills, children are immersed and invested in their education, thereby retaining more and pursuing further study.

Tuition and Application

Program Information

Current Multi-Day Grade


5-days a week
1 lead teacher to 7 students


5-days a week
1 lead teacher to 7 students

Middle School

5-days a week
1 lead teacher to 12 students

Tuition and Application

Other Programs Available

Preschool Age (4-5)

1-day a week
1 lead teacher to 7 students

Learn More