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Play is a set of behaviors that are freely chosen, personally directed, and intrinsically motivated.

from Penny Wilson, The Playwork Primer


Like many forest schools, Wonder Woods focuses on learner-led outdoor play that encourages curiosity and exploration. Our staff are not “teachers” who lead curriculum, but rather, they are playworkers who create opportunities for rich, interesting, dynamic, child-led play.


In fact, play IS the curriculum at Wonder Woods.

One of our foundational beliefs is that children are born learning and will naturally learn on their own without adult interference or adult expectations. We give children room to learn at their own pace and in their own time. 

We encourage, above all, the exploration of learning how to learn rather than learning any specific content on any specific timeline. Our goal is to give kids the space and time to develop their own internal model for how they learn rather than depending on external instruction or direction from others. We value risk-taking, process over product, and flow. We want children to be totally absorbed in what they are doing in the here and now.

Here are Some of the Things You Will See Playworkers Doing at Wonder Woods:

  • facilitating a safe and healthy space for young people to discover their own strengths and aptitudes

  • setting up a stimulating environment in which kids play

  • walking the play area to evaluate any possible hazards and adjusting the environment or moving to a different space as needed

  • co-assessing risks with children throughout the day

  • closely observing play and looking for opportunities to enrich the environment with resources that are based on the interests of the kids and might encourage deeper or more varied play if kids choose to use them

  • responding to direct requests for materials/support from students if they ask

  • patiently waiting for a child to respond to a question

  • inviting children into a new space or activity when they are ready

  • verbally coaching a child to climb down from a tree after the child has expressed uncertainty

  • intentionally taking a step back from their interactions with a child when that child has begun to play independently or with other children

  • stepping in to help resolve conflict only after patiently giving children the space to do it on their own or if the situation has become unsafe

  • engaging in their own learning and play by pursuing their own interests within the play environment, welcoming kids to participate if the kids express an interest

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