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Permaculture preschool

 
Posts: 230
Location: Iron River MI
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Hello fellow permies!

I’ve been quite passionate about permaculture and educating our youth now for the last few years. I’ve tossed around several ideas on what to make of this and think a permaculture based outdoor preschool could be the way.

I currently work a full time job with a utility company and my wife just started a part time job at a local day care. She’s got a degree in early childhood education and some experience working in public schools as well. We own a house on 2 1/2 acres (Half wooded and half yard space) and are working on vegetable gardens, perennial flower beds, establishing a food forest, and getting started with chickens. I would love to quit my job and be able to stay home recreating Eden, but that won’t pay the mortgage or my wife’s student loan debt... Unless we make it an educational place and make money that way. It’s my idealistic dream to be able to stay home tending to things while also educating our future generations on why it’s not only important, but enjoyable and sustainable as well. My wife loves working with children but can’t stand the public school system. I also see the public school system as we know it basically dissolving over the next few years, along with much of whar we used to consider being the normal way of living. People will need alternatives and our children need guidance. I see this possibly  being a win win situation for us both and the children.

I may already have connections to get grant money and some local support/help. I just have no idea where to get started or how for that matter... I guess discussing this with my wife would be a good start!

What are some thoughts, advice or opinions??

 
gardener
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It really isn't clear to me what you are seeking. Can you distill this down to fewer words?
 
pollinator
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I'm also not certain what you are wanting to know but I'll offer up this.

We send our child to a "forest preschool" that is led by a Waldorf trained teacher. Its generally what you're describing, at the teachers home, centered on the garden and adjacent woods, and built around meaningful play. We pay $45 per day basically, works out to less than $9/hour for us and is wonderfully enriching for our child. There are no more than 7 kids  on any given day.

Maybe that can help you think about the  economics of going pro?
 
pollinator
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Becoming self employed running your own school will not give you more hours around the yard. You will have less hours, alot less, esp for the 1st seven years.
That said you could have more money to buy equipment and or labor, and with you onsite you can directly and more conveniently oversee said progress.

In theory once you get big enough you can hire a lot of employees, and take a middle fee, where you dont have to do too much, and thus have alot of free time, hey, maybe even sell and cashout
 
Brody Ekberg
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s. lowe wrote:I'm also not certain what you are wanting to know but I'll offer up this.

We send our child to a "forest preschool" that is led by a Waldorf trained teacher. Its generally what you're describing, at the teachers home, centered on the garden and adjacent woods, and built around meaningful play. We pay $45 per day basically, works out to less than $9/hour for us and is wonderfully enriching for our child. There are no more than 7 kids  on any given day.

Maybe that can help you think about the  economics of going pro?



Thank you, this was helpful! I read online of a couple similar “forest preschools” and definitely want to pursue something in this direction. My wife’s on board and we have a friend here who’s very interested in being a part of it as well. I’ll try to remember to post updates as we figure things out and get into it!
 
s. lowe
pollinator
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Brody Ekberg wrote:

s. lowe wrote:I'm also not certain what you are wanting to know but I'll offer up this.

We send our child to a "forest preschool" that is led by a Waldorf trained teacher. Its generally what you're describing, at the teachers home, centered on the garden and adjacent woods, and built around meaningful play. We pay $45 per day basically, works out to less than $9/hour for us and is wonderfully enriching for our child. There are no more than 7 kids  on any given day.

Maybe that can help you think about the  economics of going pro?



Thank you, this was helpful! I read online of a couple similar “forest preschools” and definitely want to pursue something in this direction. My wife’s on board and we have a friend here who’s very interested in being a part of it as well. I’ll try to remember to post updates as we figure things out and get into it!




Ya please share updates. You might find some good support and resources as well if you can find a localish Waldorf group or school. That's the school that the teacher comes out of and it seems to be the best established pedagogy that embraces pernaculture principles and the central importance of nature based learning for children
 
master steward
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I'm pretty sure Waldorf schools are governed by a Waldorf education. When I looked into it (YEARS ago), there was extra years of schooling required beyond a teachers certification to teach in a Waldorf school. I do not know if this still pertains or if it applies to preschool. But, I would not use the term "Waldorf" without a lot of research into it. I really like the Waldorf mode of education, but there is a lot more to it than is on the surface. The same applies to Montessori education (though I don't think Montessori schools have any of the religious/spiritual undertones that Waldorf schools have...).

I think a Forest/nature school is a good idea, especially in these times when people are concerned about the spread of germs. Kids really do benefit from outdoor play in nature. You'll want to look into having a sheltered area outside for kids to be in inclement weather, and figured out how much you want to be inside vs outside. The Forest School at my son's school is entirely outside--parents are required to provide clothing and gear for their kids for all weather (rain, snow, hail, etc).

Some potential ideas for activities:

 - building shelters with sticks (like a debris shelter)
 - bean pole shelter (you could also have kiwi/grape arbor)
 - a children' garden and lessons/activities tied to it (The School Garden Cirriculum might be helpful for getting ideas https://permies.com/wiki/108808/School-Garden-Curriculum-Kaci-Rae)
 - Teaching through play. Basically letting them play in unstructured play and guide them as they play.
 - This thread might have some useful ideas for teaching through nature/gardening https://permies.com/t/137137/Ways-teach-basics-gardening-practicing
 - Nature walks--I used to do these a lot when I taught preschool. We'd get all the kids and "go for an adventure" and I'd point out plants along the way and talk about relationships between plants, have them taste edible things, etc. Some kids will pick stuff up that you're trying to teach, while others just gain knowledge from the act of being in nature.

This thread has some ideas for simple play structures/areas https://permies.com/t/84942/Permaculture-Playground-Diner

Having perennial gardens (chives, sorrel, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, self-seeding kale, pansies. etc) has been a big hit for my kids. They love munching on the edibles, and those plants are a bit more resilient than annuals.

I don't know if any of that is helpful. I agree with others that this won't likely give you more time to work on the property. You'll probably have a lot less, because running a preschool takes lots of time in cleaning and preparing food and all the other maintenance stuff, and you might be a bit worn out at the end of the day to want to tackle things on the property, and you don't want to leave projects half-done and have kids hurt themselves on an unfinished shed or something. But, I also think this is a really worthwhile thing you guys are thinking about doing.  Kids need this, now more than ever. And their parents need this, too!

This quote by Sepp Holzer says it all for me "I don't expect anything from politics. As I see it, things will only change if children grow up with nature...because children who grow up with nature, protect their nature." https://permies.com/wiki/137395/Permaculture-Desert-Paradise-movie-Sepp
 
Brody Ekberg
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Nicole Alderman wrote:I'm pretty sure Waldorf schools are governed by a Waldorf education. When I looked into it (YEARS ago), there was extra years of schooling required beyond a teachers certification to teach in a Waldorf school. I do not know if this still pertains or if it applies to preschool. But, I would not use the term "Waldorf" without a lot of research into it. I really like the Waldorf mode of education, but there is a lot more to it than is on the surface. The same applies to Montessori education (though I don't think Montessori schools have any of the religious/spiritual undertones that Waldorf schools have...).

I think a Forest/nature school is a good idea, especially in these times when people are concerned about the spread of germs. Kids really do benefit from outdoor play in nature. You'll want to look into having a sheltered area outside for kids to be in inclement weather, and figured out how much you want to be inside vs outside. The Forest School at my son's school is entirely outside--parents are required to provide clothing and gear for their kids for all weather (rain, snow, hail, etc).

Some potential ideas for activities:

 - building shelters with sticks (like a debris shelter)
 - bean pole shelter (you could also have kiwi/grape arbor)
 - a children' garden and lessons/activities tied to it (The School Garden Cirriculum might be helpful for getting ideas https://permies.com/wiki/108808/School-Garden-Curriculum-Kaci-Rae)
 - Teaching through play. Basically letting them play in unstructured play and guide them as they play.
 - This thread might have some useful ideas for teaching through nature/gardening https://permies.com/t/137137/Ways-teach-basics-gardening-practicing
 - Nature walks--I used to do these a lot when I taught preschool. We'd get all the kids and "go for an adventure" and I'd point out plants along the way and talk about relationships between plants, have them taste edible things, etc. Some kids will pick stuff up that you're trying to teach, while others just gain knowledge from the act of being in nature.

This thread has some ideas for simple play structures/areas https://permies.com/t/84942/Permaculture-Playground-Diner

Having perennial gardens (chives, sorrel, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, self-seeding kale, pansies. etc) has been a big hit for my kids. They love munching on the edibles, and those plants are a bit more resilient than annuals.

I don't know if any of that is helpful. I agree with others that this won't likely give you more time to work on the property. You'll probably have a lot less, because running a preschool takes lots of time in cleaning and preparing food and all the other maintenance stuff, and you might be a bit worn out at the end of the day to want to tackle things on the property, and you don't want to leave projects half-done and have kids hurt themselves on an unfinished shed or something. But, I also think this is a really worthwhile thing you guys are thinking about doing.  Kids need this, now more than ever. And their parents need this, too!

This quote by Sepp Holzer says it all for me "I don't expect anything from politics. As I see it, things will only change if children grow up with nature...because children who grow up with nature, protect their nature." https://permies.com/wiki/137395/Permaculture-Desert-Paradise-movie-Sepp



Nicole, thanks for all the input! We had some friends over this weekend and I had a great time with their 3 year old boy. I showed him our perennials, vegetables, trees and baby chicks. He was super interested in everything, sampled every edible herb, weed or flower i could find him (and enjoyed them all), and even insisted on raking and cleaning up sticks in our yard! Im sure all 3 year olds aren’t like that, but i could definitely spend some time interacting with kids like that more regularly. And i agree, its needed now more than ever. And even if it takes up more of my time than my current job and makes me less money, if i can make it through the workweek without feeling like I’m wasting 40 hours of my life it will be a massive improvement on my mental well being. Because as of now, my “good” attitude towards my job is that it’s a silly, unnecessary game i play for confusing reasons. My “bad“ attitude is that its a complete squandering of a golden opportunity 8 hours a day...

We’ve got a lot of figuring to do before getting too into this, but I’m happy to have some local support, and also for all of you on this forum. Thanks for the input and I’ll keep updating as progress is made!
 
pollinator
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Look up the 'Wild and Free' homeschool community as well. I do think this movement generally has Christian undertones, but I know my local Wild and Free group does not require you to be Christian, it just may come up in casual conversation. In my opinion, it's less religious than Waldorf since Waldorf has teaching methods/activities they use that are particularly religious.

They essentially are focused on allowing kids to learn in nature and on their own terms. While it's geared toward homeschoolers, I know you'd learn a lot from reading up on it and to solidify your own pedagogy.

Also, I just stumbled upon this post which may be of interest to you: https://permies.com/t/143100/Planet-Schooling#1119749
 
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I think that’s a wonderful idea and if you can find a way to do this, you would really be helping to change the world. It all starts a a child’s level of education. I feel like everyone in here could relate in some way to that because either we are learning all of this because we wish we had been thought these things years ago, or think our children or younger people or other people in general need to know these things. That’s why Permies is a place.

I do “wild school” with a group of like minded moms n dads and Montessori as a basic education. In wild school last week the kids learned Fire building, Hugel mounds, and we all added clay to a slip straw house. And as expected all the kids ended up covered in mud by the end of the “educational house building”. Permaculture and food forest is just how we all live in our little mountain properties so this is all incorporated in their everyday life.

Age range is new born -7yo and of course all of us parents are learning new stuff with the kids and from the kids.


7th Generation
 
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What area are y’all located in?
 
Brody Ekberg
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Megan Coyote Wilson wrote:What area are y’all located in?



I’m in Michigan’s upper peninsula
 
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