Northeast LA Forest Wonderschool is an active, experiential learning program where we provide real-life learning situations for young learners. Our program is inspired by the European model of the Forest Kindergarten, set in the urban park landscapes of Los Angeles. Our curriculum is emergent, based on the expanding curiosities of our students. Our days are centered around hikes and explorations and are rich with opportunities for social-emotional development. Our teachers model social behaviors, guide children through conflict, and help children balance their risk assessments. As teachers we are present as observers and help remove hazards that children cannot handle.
Why attend a forest school? Will my child be prepared for kindergarten?
Forest Schools build the foundations for academic success. Children who are given the chance to try, fail, and try again learn resilience, take on initiative, and become more inventive. Problem solving skills, social competence, and the openness to learn new things come from the freedom outdoor play provides. The development of these executive functions lead the way to higher learning. Transitions, participation, empathy, and how to engage in a group learning setting are all necessary for kindergarten and skills we practice daily at Northeast LA Forest Wonderschool. Yes, your child will be more than prepared!
Leaders and learners.
The children of Northeast LA Forest Wonderschool range in ages. This kind of mixed age setting allows for the natural development of learners and leaders. This peer leadership model is beneficial for both leader and learner and has been found to foster motivation, self-esteem, achievement, and community. As children grow they can see themselves becoming leaders but they continue to have empathy for those who are where they used to be. When we break up into smaller, age based groups during inquiries, our teachers are ready with the differentiation skills needed to engage different ages at different stages.
Interested in joining our community? Here is how:
Explore the Northeast LA Forest Wonderschool website. Our website provides parents with information regarding our philosophy and community values as well as the day to day schedule, yearly schedules, and many other important details.
If you like what you see on the website, join us for a tour. Meet up with our director at one of our park sites in Northeast Los Angeles and enjoy some outside time while learning more about our program. To schedule your tour please fill out the “Schedule a Tour” form and family profile.
Want to apply? The application process can be done through the website hosted by our partners at Wonderschool.
Northeast Los Angeles is home to many city- and state-run parks. We often overlook the natural aspects of these urban oasis, opting instead to focus on playground structures, ball fields, and pools. Look closer and you will find a whole world of wonder. At Northeast LA Forest Wonderschool, we take advantage of the amazing flora and fauna Southern California has to offer young and curious minds. Our parks are located in Eagle Rock, Highland Park, and Los Feliz.
Each of our parks have been vetted to ensure the proper utilities are present, the park is suited for all weather, and that the park is safe. Each site will be our home for 2-4 weeks with notification of our park schedule a month or more in advance.
++Northeast LA Forest Wonderschool Locations:++
- Eagle Rock Recreation Center Park
- Griffith Park: Old Zoo Hiking area
- Ernest E. Debs Regional Park
- Elysian Park: Section 6.
++Each park was chosen based on a few key criteria:++
- Access to flora and fauna.
- Access to potable water.
- Safe drop off/pick up points.
- Plenty of parking for parents.
- Proximity to Northeast LA.
- Access to shade and places to rest.
At Northeast LA Forest Wonderschool we seek to reverse the “indoorification of childhood” by providing real life, inquiry based explorations in nature. Children will be able to indulge their curiosity, let it guide their explorations, and build their scientific thinking through through trial-and-error style play. Early literacy and math skills can be seen throughout our meaningful play. We go deeper into local parks to find climbing trees, mud pits, and ponds. Whenever possible we stop our hikes to explore off the beaten path. Our group play requires empathy, listening skills, and learning different forms of conflict resolution thus building social-emotional skills. Through play our children begin to discover their sense of self and others. Our group circle times are a time for reflection and conversation about our daily adventures. In additions to explorations our daily structure allows for snacks and lunch, songs, and diving into a few good books. Early literacy and math skills can be seen throughout our meaningful play.
Our school is 100% outside. Unless a safety warning has been issued by a government organization (smog days, lightning, cancellations issued by LAUSD) we will be out and about. Using man-made structures to avoid rain, shade to keep cool, and the right kinds of clothes to stay comfortable, we will continue to explore in all kinds of weather. Children in our program will get very dirty, they will possibly scrape their knees or rip some clothes, but that is what it means to be a kid.
Becca Hackett-Levy is the Director and Head Teacher of Northeast LA Forest Wonderschool. Becca was born in Portland, ME and grew up doing theater, playing in the mud, and making messes with paint. She holds a BA from Emerson College in Boston, and a Master’s in Early Childhood Education from Hunter College in New York City. Prior to moving to Los Angeles with her husband and baby boy, Becca taught preschool at Plymouth Church School in Brooklyn Heights and North Williamsburg YM-YWHA in Williamsburg Brooklyn. During her time in New York, Becca had the joy of working with The Other Side Intercultural Theater which seeks to connect girls from around the world through drama exchange. As part of her ongoing professional development, Becca attended the Reaching Nature Connection Conference at The Academy of Forest Kindergarten Teachers in Santa Barbara.
When not teaching, Becca loves to craft. She also loves to bake, find new hikes with her son and husband, and go swimming in anything deep enough to make a splash!
All of our teachers are trained in EMSA CPR and First Aid.
Our director, Becca, is currently in training to become a LAFD Community Emergency Response Team member.
We are a proud member of the Wonderschool network.
Wonderschool is a group of early childhood programs that combine the quality standards of the best child care centers with the warmth of an in-home program in your neighborhood.