About Forest School

nature school and forest school colorado springs outdoor kids program


My name is Maria Arefieva. I’m the founder of Real Red Riding Hoods forest school and I wanted to welcome you to our website and thank you for your interest in our program.

Our forest school is a year around outdoor program for mixed age group of children, that serves both as an alternative to traditional preschools and kindergartens here in Colorado Springs and Monument areas, as well as a home schooling enrichment program.

I invite you to browse through our website to learn about our core principles and values, to read about our staff and I hope to meet you and your little explorer one day in person.

Maria Arefieva

Maria Arefieva

Forest schools seek to bring children out of classrooms and into nature where they can learn, discover and experience the touch of the living world, developing in a more balanced and natural way.

Did you know that since the 1970s, children have lost 12 hours a week of free time? And that an average American child spends only four to seven minutes per day in unstructured outdoor play?

Children simply aren’t spending enough time outdoors in unstructured environment. As a result studies show that today’s children are weaker, less fit and less emotionally stable than previous generations. In fact, experts say this may be the first generation at risk of having a shorter lifespan than their parents.

Forest schools seek to bring children out of classrooms and into nature where they can learn, discover and experience the touch of the living world, developing in a more balanced and natural way.

Want to see what we do?

The best way to see what occurs at our forest school program is to follow us on Instagram, where we share photos almost daily. On our blog we share photos from recent community events at the forest school as well as our learning activities.

Our Team

Maria Arefieva

Founder & Owner

Kelsey Lucero

Pod Leader & Lead Instructor

Coco Lucero

Pod Leader

Luke Cissell

Pod Leader

We are passionate about making childhood full of wonder and magic. We strive to inspire children to discover the world around them and to learn more about it, first with our help and then on their own. Here you can read more about us, our skills, passions and what we bring to the children.

More about us

The benefits of forest schools

The benefits of a forest school approach are wide and many:

  • Improves children’s mental health
  • Makes them happier
  • Brings about better social skills
  • Reduces stress
  • Prevents shortsightedness
  • Prevents allergies
  • Invokes the entire sensory system

In this blog post we share number of great studies about the value of being outdoors for childhood development. This great article talks about the benefits of outdoor play vs. indoor play. We also highly recommend the Childhood by Nature website to learn more about why having kids outdoors is so critical.

Program and activities

We are a year round outdoor-focused program for children, offering preschool, kindergarten and home-school enrichment programs. Children of all ages spend abundant time in nature.

Forest school in Colorado Springs

COVID-19 update:
Colorado Springs program is open and in operation!

Our Colorado Springs forest school program is for ages 4-10 years old. This program is ideal for both younger children serving as an alternative to a kindergarten, or as a homeschool enrichment program for the school age kiddos.

On this program we spend 5.5 hours exclusively outdoors. Our typical day starts with a good hike. We have a few favorite hiking trails and all of them are breathtaking!

During our hikes we take as many breaks as children request. We keep it playful and fun. Most days our biggest challenge is keeping up with the kiddos on the trails :))

After the hike we settle down at one of our most beloved spots in the canyon. There we spend the remaining time of the program having lunch and work on different projects (nature learning, book reading, art practice, etc.) and of course, lots of free play for all ages!

More information

Forest school in Palmer Lake

COVID-19 update:
Palmer Lake program is open and in operation!

Our Palmer Lake location offers 2 separate programs: a forest school preschool and kindergarten program for children ages 2.5 – 5 years old, and a home-school enrichment program for children ages 4-10 years old.

Both programs includes free play in the forest as the first portion of the program. Afterwards, when we return from the forest to the school cabin, children have an opportunity to participate in an art project, baking, gardening, a story time or playdough sculpting.

Our nature school (also known as nature kindergarten) in Palmer Lake is a blend of a forest school approach and some aspects from Waldorf and Reggio Emilia pedagogies. We believe any learning should be child-led, allowing each child to follow their interests.

We keep the activities scheduled lightly allowing each child plenty of time to immerse in the project should they wish to, as well as to have plenty of break time in between for free play and movement.

More information

Real Red Riding Hoods forest school
Colorado Springs, CO

(719) 960-0612