Montessori School spends class time in great outdoors

By Mandy Mahan

When Addie Neher, director of the Montessori School at Wabash Prebyterian school, had the idea for a summer forest school, she imagined a “school that provides an opportunity for children to develop a strong, tangible relationship with the natural world.”

“I sent an email to the ACRES Foundation back in March of 2020,” Neher told The Paper of Wabash County.  “With thanks to Casey Jones, Grady Stout, the Asherwood Property Manager, and Jason Kissel, Executive Director of ACRES, we were able to get a program up and running by July 2020. The school developed a morning program that included exploration hours, hiking, journal reflections, and so much more.”

Last summer, the program had 20 students, ages 3 through 9.

“The kids seemed to really love it! We’ve been back a couple times over the school year. When we come back to school, many students ask me, ‘When will we go back to forest school?’” said Neher.

In addition to the summer forest school program, a three day a week, year-round forest school program is being added. This program takes place at Asherwood Nature Preserve, 15 minutes south of Wabash.

Last year, the summer program was two days a week. This year, the program is Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

“We are able to observe the changing seasons from the soil to the trees,” said Neher. “Our morning routine consists of guided exploration time, hiking, and a daily reflection. Our guided exploration time includes creek observation, forest floor study, and animal track searches. Our daily reflection is a combination of journal writing and community discussion. All of our students must have weather-appropriate attire, which allows us to spend extended periods of time outside. It’s a beautiful, child-centered, yet community-oriented, approach to education. A true and deep connection to nature is a sturdy foundation for any student.

Parents can sign their child up for one, two or six weeks at a time. Registration for this summer’s forest school is open and parents can email Neher at or visit the website for more information,

Posted on 2021 Apr 06