Frequently Asked Questions
What calendar does the Forest School follow?
We create our own calendar, and start and end our school year slightly later and earlier, respectively, to the Portland Public School Calendar. School is in session Monday-Friday with holiday breaks and in-service days. Our school calendar is released in the Spring.
What are the school hours?
8:15am to 3:30 pm. Our day runs slightly longer than other schools to allow for travel time to outdoor locations without compromising school time.
Is after school care available?
After school care is available until 6:00pm with pre-registration. Activities can include: Natural Crafts Sculptures, baskets, weaving, and more
Stories & Games Natural myths, games of teamwork
Visual Arts Painting with natural pigments, sketching, and collages
Woodcraft Wood carving and basic carpentry
Archery Practice in our on-site indoor archery range”
What is the age requirement for entering Kindergarten?
Your child is eligible for kindergarten if they are 5 years old on or before September 1 of the enrolling school year.
Are scholarships or financial aid available?
Trackers Forest School is committed to providing financial aid to the greatest extent possible. Limited financial aid is awarded based on availability and need, however, as a new school, our resources are limited.
Do you provide lunches or snacks?
Due to our outdoor program occurring in the field, students need to bring their own lunch, snack and water bottle.
Where do students report to school?
All classes meet at our Trackers in SE Portland at 4617 SE Milwaukie Avenue in Portland, Oregon. We transport students to local outdoor parks and green spaces, or walk to nearby parks.
What outdoor locations do you use?
We use many of the same parks as our summer programs, including a mixture of city parks, regional parks, and private land owned by Trackers.
Are you really going to go outside in all weather?
Yes! Our years of experience have taught us that when dressed appropriately, children thrive outdoors year-round. In cases of severely inclement or unsafe weather, we spend more time in our classroom at our Portland headquarters. However, our goal is to teach children to be safe and happy outdoors in any weather. Guidance is offered to parents in preparing and dressing their child for success.
Do you also spend time indoors in a classroom?
While we spend the majority of our time outside, we also spend time in the classroom as needed.
Will you do any overnight outdoors school trips?
Immersing students in nature in a multi-day stretch is an integral part of our curriculum. TFS students in grades 4 and up do several seasonal overnight trips during the year. Destinations are set based on curriculum and student interest.
How does TFS use technology?
To be human is to use technology. From fire-by-friction to the bow and arrow or knife, all the way to computers and robots: Humans are technology users. We encourage children to use tech as a tool to deepen their connection to the world around them, not as a replacement for that connection. Tech is a tool to allow for more choices, not dictate the outline of their life.
What is your discipline philosophy?
True discipline comes from within. We encourage students to find the limits of the natural world by learning from the wild and from each other. We set very clear, firm safety limits and allow freedom within those boundaries to develop self-regulation. Through compassionate conversation and community building, children balance independence with accountability to their community and the natural world. When a child is consistently crossing necessary safety boundaries, we work with them and their parents to find positive solutions that take into account the needs of the whole group.
How Does TFS approach literacy?
Forest School is an environment rich in the written word. Students read, write, create, and learn through all manner of texts and media. For elementary and middle school grades, we recommend that students be reading at a minimum of at or one level below grade level. For students who need more support around reading or writing, we will work with families to find outside tutoring or other learning opportunities to help supplement their work.
Does TFS assign homework?
Research clearly shows that homework does not have a significant effect on knowledge retention or academic achievement in the elementary years. For our younger students, aside from reading at home and occasional long-term, self-directed projects, all work is completed during school hours. We would rather children participate in and help maintain the home, or just have fun with their family in the evenings! Students in our middle-school and high-school program receive homework appropriate to their academic needs.
How do you approach students with special needs?
Every person learns in a different way, at their own pace. Individualized, project-based learning means being intensely familiar with all one’s students abilities and needs. We will trust our teachers to present curriculum in a way that provides the right level of challenge at the right time. When we observe that a student could benefit from additional support, we will work with the parents and call in outside resources as necessary to help provide the tools to succeed for that child.
How do I begin the application process?
Begin by applying online with the $50 non-refundable application fee. The Application is a great way for us to get to know your student. At the end of the application is a records release. Students applying to grade 1 and above who have been attending another school will also need to provide school records.
Will we be able to meet teachers before school begins?
There are several opportunities to meet our teachers prior to the school year beginning. At our Open House events teachers are almost always present.