The Wild Woods: A Forest Kindergarten is an exciting new program coming to the North Hills area of Pittsburgh. We will be fostering a space for children ages 3 to 6, to run and explore, to climb and create, to play and cooperate, and to sit and process the world around them. We are committed to a low student to staff ratio of 4 : 1 to provide the children with best experience possible. By allowing children unstructured free time in nature, we will provide the ideal nurturing environment for your child to learn, grow, and develop.
"Learn, grow, and BE a child in nature at The Wild Woods"
The Wild Woods: A Forest Kindergarten is committed to nurturing children's cognitive, social, emotional, and sensory development--as well as their physical and mental well being--by immersing them in nature at an early age. The key component of this approach is unstructured free time in nature, which lays the foundation for a meaningful, life-long relationship to the natural world. This unstructured free time also provides the ideal opportunity to learn how to form healthy collaborative relationships with others.
At The Wild Woods, we will use a child-driven flow learning emergent curriculum that evolves with each child's interests as the seasons change. By allowing children unstructured free time to become fully engaged in the world around them, they can develop their observation skills by watching nature's changes take place, while at the same time enriching their imaginations and creativity. Our teachers are committed to using an inquiry based teaching style to foster the innate sense of curiosity, while also laying the foundation for more divergent thinking and better problem solving skills.
It is our belief that in today's fast paced and hyper-stimulating world, children need a chance to slow down and develop at nature's natural pace. Learn, grow, and BE a child in nature at The Wild Woods!

The Wild Woods Mission

To nurture cognitive, emotional and sensory development in early age children by combining an inquiry based teaching experience with a child-driven curriculum of unstructured free time in nature. As the seasons change, an outdoor immersion experience stimulates creativity, lays a meaningful, life-long relationship to the natural world and allows children to form healthy collaborative relationships with others. Learn, grow, and BE a child in nature at The Wild Woods Forest Kindergarten!

What is a Forest Kindergarten?

A forest kindergarten consists of the following elements:
  • It occurs outside in nature
  • Regular exposure to the same outdoor space to create a connection between students and nature
  • Class is outside, in all weather and seasons
  • Child interest driven curriculum
  • Unstructured free time
  • Play Based education
  • Low student to staff ratio (4:1)
  • First hand experiences that will last a lifetime for children
  • Exposure to moderate risks

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Why a Forest Kindergarten ?

  • Improved concentration and increased observation skills
  • Children learn best while being active, which they will be at The Wild Woods
  • Better development of problem solving and critical thinking
  • Optimal development of gross and fine motor skills
  • Exposure to moderate risk
  • Less likely to suffer from childhood obesity
  • Learn to be kind to others and the world around them
  • Develop a sense of self
  • Increase in attention from prolonged exposure to nature

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Any family with more than 1 child enrolled in the Forest Kindergarten will receive 10% off tuition for any additional child. Also, any family that has a child enrolled in another program at Jewart’s Gymnastics will receive 10% per month on the lower tuition.
Families who choose to enroll in The Wild Woods: Forest Kindergarten classes will need to sign a 9-month contract and make a deposit for one month’s tuition, which will be used as payment for the final month of the program.
  • Days & Class Times
  • Monday 9:00am - 11:30am
  • Monday 12:15pm - 3:00pm
  • Tuesday 9:15am-12:00am and 12:15pm-3:00pm
  • Wednesday 9:00am - 11:30am & 12:15pm - 3:00pm
  • Thursday 9:00am - 11:30am & 12:15pm - 3:00pm
  • Thursday 12:30 - 3:00
  • Prices
  • 1 day a week - $140 per month/$1260 per year
  • 2 days a week - $260 per month/$2340 per year
  • 3 days a week - $350 per month/$3150 per year
  • 4 days a week - $420 per month/$3780 per year

About The Staff

Patrick Hilko

My name is Patrick Hilko. I was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area. I have a degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. I hold a PA Teacher Certification Pre-K-4th grade and have taken a number of Early Childhood Education master’s level courses at Carlow University. In November of 2016, I attended the Cedarsong Nature School and completed The Cedarsong Way Forest Kindergarten Teacher Training Program. Nature has played a crucial roll in my life and I want to make sure that in today’s fast past world children are given the opportunity to slow down and be in nature and learn from all it has to offer!


Beth is a teacher at The Wild Woods and started with the program from the beginning of the first year. Beth has been working with children in nature experiences for over 18 years. She has a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education from Erikson Institute, a nationally recognized graduate school in child development. She also has earned Elementary and Special Education Professional Teaching Certificates. She has worked with children of all ages in a variety of different settings. She taught in both general and special education classrooms for several years. She was also a nature camp counselor prior to becoming a teacher. Beth has three children ages 1, 4, and 7, who enjoy stomping in the creek behind their house and tent camping. As a young child, Beth loved spending time outside all throughout the year. Now, she loves sharing her passion for nature and the outdoors with children, exploring the beauty of the forest, and growing in appreciation for the natural world. At The Wild Woods, you will find Beth hiking up hills, making mud muffins and forest people, rounding up snow balls, and splashing in the creek.

the calming effect of trees on humans

It is our belief that for children who have yet to develop many of the coping skills adults have, the calming effect is just as, if not more important.

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This is an article on 10 big takeaways from a 2017 Nature Pedagogy Conference in Australia with explanations of each takeaway.

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This is an article about a year round nature school in Milwaukee, and the benefits the program has for children’s brain development.

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This is a website of extensive news articles, tools, and many additional resources related to the importance of children being in nature.

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This is an article on the importance of outdoor unstructured free play and how forest kindergartens foster early childhood development.

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