Berkeley Forest School children feel welcomed, accepted, free to explore, and know that they belong. We are a community of collaborative learners, coming together in the woods, urban farms, natural parks, our local creeks, community gardens, and orchards of Berkeley, California. All meeting locations are accessible via public transportation. We are a 100% outdoor school, and we meet rain or shine.
In our mixed-age classes, teachers and co-op parents follow the child's lead. Our highly experienced teachers support the children's learning through stories, games, foraging, animal tracking, songs, bushcraft, journaling, gardening, cooking, and handcrafts—and of course, by allowing plenty of time for unstructured free play to occur, as play is the work of children.
By modeling and cultivating a respectful and collaborative school culture where children are safe and know they are valued, we support the child’s ability to voice their questions about the world, to take risks, and to support others in their investigations. We are growing a foundation for community learning in each child, and a generation of confident and compassionate critical thinkers.
Berkeley Forest School is based on fundamental humanitarian principles, as well as respect for children and their ability to construct their own knowledge. Children have the right to play, explore, and take risks, while conscious of their connection to the invigoratingly complex natural world we share. Teachers support the rich wilderness of the children's imagination by facilitating their efforts in inquiry, investigation, and analysis. We do not teach children what to think. We encourage children to think for themselves: to develop their own ideas, and to test those ideas in a safe and loving community.
We aim to instigate a culture of active citizens to live in relationship with the land, and with awareness of our global community. We honor the innate connection we have with the earth-- a connection that is essential to our well-being as individuals and as a society.
We facilitate a deeper understanding of local ecology and community-learning through place-based education, inviting children and their families to establish an ongoing relationship with the world we share, and those we share it with.
We work with an awareness and acknowledgement of our presence on occupied Lisjan Ohlone Land, and we are grateful for the wisdom and continued care of this land, Huchiun, by the Lisjan Ohlone people through the generations.