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A nature based kindergarten

Welcome to Hamilton Forest School where learning is deeply rooted in nature. We hold a strong conviction that children require and also deserve regular and repeated opportunities to immerse themselves in the natural world. We believe that these encounters with nature help cultivate eco-responsible stewards, and long lasting relationships with the land, which we believe is an indispensable quality for 21st-century citizens.


We firmly believe that exposing children to the outdoors and its breathtaking wonders is a fundamental experience that every child should have. Numerous research studies have consistently shown that spending time in nature reduces stress, enhances attention span, and promotes healthy brain development in children. Nature plays a crucial role in both a child's well-being and overall development of the whole-child.


At Hamilton Forest School, we offer a distinct and tailored educational program, serving as an exceptional alternative to the Ministry of Education's Full Day Kindergarten Program. Since children in Ontario are not mandated to attend school until grade one (age 6), we provide the option for children to be enrolled full-time in our Kindergarten program.


Join us at Hamilton Forest School, where education comes alive in nature's embrace, nurturing young minds for a brighter future.


Hamilton Forest School envisions extending its offerings to include primary grades, providing children with the opportunity to continue their educational journey within our nurturing environment.


Our curriculum is designed to be comprehensive and dynamic, encompassing both French and English languages. It is place-based, child-directed, hands-on, play-based, emergent, and inquiry-based, as research has consistently shown that children between birth and eight years old learn most effectively through this approach. Our unique curriculum draws inspiration from the Ontario Ministry of Education's The Kindergarten Program, harmoniously blending it with the principles of the Forest School philosophy. Lastly, keeping reconciliation at heart, our curriculum also incorporates Indigenous Land-based educational perspectives. 


At Hamilton Forest School, we firmly believe in the competence and capability of every child. By empowering our students with choices and decision-making opportunities, we recognize and embrace the boundless potential of young minds. Following Howard Gardner's MI (Multiple Intelligences) theory, we hold the belief that each child can flourish and achieve success. By offering a diverse range of activities and encouraging children to make choices based on their interests and developmental needs, we utilize nature as both a learning environment and an ally, paving the way for positive and personalized learning experiences.

Choose an enriching journey of education for your child,
where young minds thrive in the embrace of nature's wonders.


Program Features

We spend the majority of our day outside in all weather conditions. Our goal is to embrace every season and discover the unique delights each has to offer.

Our unique Bilingual program is delivered in both French and English. We follow the Ontario Kindergarten curriculum as Catherine is a certified OCT and kindergarten specialist.


We look forward to welcoming lots of special guests and hosting many "workshops" throughout the year. 


Program Details

Our Forest Kindergarten is designed for students ages
3.5 - 5 years old.

We maintain a 1:5 ratio.


Children will bring their own snack and nutritious lunch.

Tuition is $75 / day + HST. 


If the current tuition poses a challenge, please contact us. 

We're happy to use a sliding scale to create a personalized tuition tailored to your household financial situation. Support from community partners enables us to hold seats at various price points to ensure Hamilton Forest School reflects the economic diversity of the city that surrounds us.


We're here to work with you and find potential solutions so your child can attend.  


Our Schedule

Monday - Friday

September - June

9am - 3:30pm

*Full-time and part-time options available.

We follow the school board's yearly calendar.

  • Same Professional Development days

  • Same break in December and March. 

How to Register

There are only 10 spaces in this very special program and we anticipate them to fill very quickly. 

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us at

Run by an educator who cares

our Forest Kindergarten presently operates as an unlicensed home-based child care center, adhering to Ontario's Ministry of Education curricular documents, including: 


Ontario’s Kindergarten Curriculum

In English: “The Kindergarten Program” (2016).

In French: “Programme de la maternelle et du jardin d’enfants” (2016).

Orange Butterfly 2

Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years 

This professional learning resource guide addresses and reflects upon the important question: How Does Learning Happen?

In English: "How does learning happen: Ontario’s pedagogy for the early years" (2014).

In French: “Comment apprend-on? Pédagogie de l’Ontario pour la petite enfance” (2014).

White Dragonfly

The Think, Feel, Act: Lessons from Research about Young Children

A research report that provides educators in early years settings with information to support early childhood development.

In English: “Think Feel Act Document: Lessons for research about young children” (2013).

In French: “Penser, sentir, agir : Leçons tirées de la recherche sur la petite enfance” (2013).

Natural Curiosity (NC)

Natural Curiosity is an innovative environmental and land-based inquiry program that helps teachers address a critical link between environmental and Indigenous education.


In English: “Natural Curiosity 2nd Edition: A Resource for Educators: Considering Indigenous Perspectives in Children's Environmental Inquiry” (2018).

In French: “Curiosité naturelle, 2e édition: Ressource pour l’enseignante ou l’enseignant

L’importance du point de vue autochtone dans l’enquête dans l’environnement de l’enfant” (2018). 


As well as additional supporting documents from the “Back to Nature Network”, the Pedagogical resource from Forest and Nature School in Canada: “A Head, Heart, Hands Approach to Outdoor Learning” (2014) and Indigenous land-based education

Catherine Hughes, the Founder and Director of Hamilton Forest School, is a dedicated educational professional currently pursuing a PhD in Early Childhood Education with a specialization in Outdoor Education and Forest School. With her extensive background as an experienced French Kindergarten teacher, an OCT kindergarten specialist, Forest School Practitioner and organic gardener, she has crafted a personalized and unique kindergarten curriculum that will offer a tailored educational experience for each student.

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