Northern Rhode Island Forest School

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find answers to some of the most common questions we get asked about winter, weather, safety, and more. 
If you have any additional questions, please email us at

Click here to view our Policies and Procedures. 

Can Younger/Older Siblings Tag Along?

Yes!  We know that schedules are tough and finding childcare can be even tougher!  If you need to bring along a sibling who falls outside of the age range for a class, you are welcome to do so at no additional cost.

Is there a Sibling Discount?

Yes, each additional sibling gets a 10% discount off the program cost.  Contact us to request a sibling discount code.

What's the deal with Background checks?

We are required by the terms of our agreement with the Town of Smithfield to get background checks (BCI / CORI checks) for all adults who will be attending our programs.  This process is, luckily, pretty easy!  

For RHODE ISLAND: we recommend you get a BCI check at the Attorney General’s office in Cranston (near the DMV).  Note that payment is via credit card only!  Details here:  You can also make an appointment for a state background check at your local police station.

For MASSACHUSETTS: you can use the iCORI system to get a background check:

Will there be weather cancellations?

Forest School takes place outdoors, year-round, in all sorts of weather; however, certain weather conditions can be truly dangerous, and in these cases Forest School will be canceled for that day.

In the event of a weather cancellation, caregivers will be notified as early as possible via email and text. Weather cancellations will also be posted on our Facebook page. Guidelines for weather cancellations are below. Please note: We will evaluate weather safety on a localized basis and may cancel class if conditions at the Forest School site are unsafe even if the following standards are not met. We have prepared virtual learning packages to be used in the event of a weather cancellation.

High winds in the forest can be dangerous due to the risk of falling limbs and trees. If the National Weather Service (NWS) issues a Wind Advisory, conditions will be considered unsafe and Forest School will be canceled.

Class will be canceled in the event of thunderstorms since even minor electrical storms pose a risk outdoors. If storm warnings are issued by the NWS - blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. - class will be canceled.

Forest School in winter can involve a novel kind of snowy magic; however, there may be times when travel conditions are unsafe. If schools in the same town as our Forest School site have a snow cancellation, Forest School class will also be canceled for the day.

We will experience a wide range of temperatures over the course of a year in Forest School. It is important to dress properly for the weather and to stay hydrated. Class will only be canceled if temperatures are extreme enough to be dangerous. If the NWS issues a heat advisory or a wind chill advisory, Forest School will be canceled.

If weather conditions become unsafe suddenly and unexpectedly, we will move to the emergency shelter identified for the site. This may be a nearby building or vehicle.

Whatever the weather, please use common sense in deciding to attend class on any given day. Don’t hesitate to ask questions if you would like advice on how to prepare for any kind of outdoor weather conditions. We are here to help!

What about ticks?

Outdoor learning is extremely beneficial to our health, happiness, and learning abilities. We believe staying indoors and out of nature is far more hazardous than any risks we might encounter in the forest; however, it is important to know the risks so we can manage them. Ticks are active year-round in Rhode Island and can cause disease; there are easy ways to manage this risk:

CLOTHING: Tuck long pants into socks, and tuck shirts into pants. For clothing you plan to wear again before washing–such as a sweatshirt–run it through a dryer cycle to kill any ticks before re-wearing.

HAIR: If you have long hair, tie it up.

REPELLENTS: Use a spray with 25-30% DEET or treat your clothes with Permethrin – these chemicals are very safe to use if you follow the directions on the label. Alternatively, you can purchase clothing from or send clothing to be treated by InsectShield. Unfortunately, most “natural” repellents are not effective against ticks.

TICK CHECKS: Get in the habit of checking your entire body (and your child’s entire body) for ticks every day before bed. If a tick has bitten you, remove it with pointy tweezers or a tick key, then save it in a plastic baggie for testing – . Miss Diana also recommends checking the outside of your clothing after we get out of the woods; this is the most important task to reduce your risks!

What about Poison ivy?

There may be poison ivy growing along the trails or near our forest classrooms. All participants will learn to identify this plant at any time of year. Poison ivy can cause an itchy rash - if you do encounter some with your skin, wash with soap and water as soon as possible. The best way to avoid this plant is to walk in the middle of the trail, not along the edges.

What do you do in the winter?

Forest School classes are held throughout the seasons unless the weather is dangerous on a particular day. In winter, we…

DRESS IN LAYERS – this might include:
– thermal baselayers (we like Merino wool and silk)
– long-sleeve shirt and pants
– sweater or sweatshirt
– waterproof snowsuit with hood
– glove and sock liners
– thick wool socks
– waterproof, insulated boots
– waterproof, insulated gloves or mittens
– warm hat and scarf or balaclava

– Stay dry.
– Keep moving.
– Utilize shelters and fires (where permitted) to keep warm.

Learning outdoors in winter can be an invaluable experience; it can build resilience and self-confidence as students discover their capabilities in challenging conditions. Participating in Forest School throughout the winter months provides critical continuity in both the learning experience and our class community.

Where can I purchase appropriate clothing?

Outdoor clothing can be found at retailers such as the Outdoor School Shop or REI. Some brands we use for ourselves and our own children include:

The North Face
Bogs Boots
Muck Boots

These items can be quite pricey. We often find second-hand gear via sites like Poshmark or Facebook Marketplace. In the future, we hope to set up gear swaps where our forest school families can buy/sell/trade appropriate clothing.

Join us and learn outdoors all year long!

Reap the benefits of learning in nature in every season.