Edson Forest School

Progressive education in a micro-school forest-adjacent setting for grades K-8, just outside the city of Harrisonburg, VA

Our vision

We believe that all children can benefit from greater connection to nature and the outdoors. We strive to encourage the natural playfulness and curiosity of our students as they build their own connections to each other and to the natural world, while using project-based activities to reinforce a love of learning.

Our staff provide an enriching educational experience with a focus on outdoor experiences and STEM learning within a positive-minded community that also provides regular Spanish instruction.

A place for your child to learn

We believe that child, teacher, family, and community are all instrumental to the collaborative learning process. At Edson Forest School, we strive to provide a nurturing and supportive environment that strengthens social bonds and encourages academic growth. We believe in de-emphasizing rote learning and encourage deeper understanding of topics through hands-on activities and learner-directed projects. Our students will practice problem solving and self-reliance while also broadening their academic knowledge base; these skills will not only provide a strong support for future growth and development, but each success will also help the child develop a love of learning. 

A place for your child to grow

We know that every child carries a unique set of gifts and talents.  We love to help those gifts to flower, and that’s one of the great joys of being an educator. Our instructors also strive to lay groundwork for future skill development and blossoming that the students perhaps did not even suspect was in their own capacity. We do not aim to pressure the students towards constant growth, but we do hope that the kids develop their own internal motivation. Because we are a small and intimate group, instructors can focus on the most effective approach for each kid. We aim for a target called the zone of proximal development. That’s the “Goldilocks” approach to individualized learning; not so easy as to bore the child; not so hard as to cause the child to shut down or give up; the content should be a challenge that the child can solve or master, and doing so should give that child increased confidence and sense of self-worth.

A place for your child to be a kid

For every decision that we make about our school’s design, we ask ourselves:

  • “What opportunities do we want our own child to have available?”;
  • “How can we make our school a great place to be?”; and
  • “What do we wish could be included in the educational experience of every child?” 

These are the goals that keep us striving to make this school into a reality.  We do not believe that it is natural for a child to hate or fear school, and it is our greatest hope that every student will be excited to come to our school every day to explore something new. Play, adventure, and exploration should be part of every child’s daily routine. Although we don’t have unlimited resources, as long as we keep those principles at the fore, Edson Forest School will always be a place where our students will feel welcome and engaged. 

Check out our Updates page for some photos of recent changes and media coverage!