Parent-to-Parent Review: Children's Programs with The Rewilding School

By Kelly Fitzpatrick April 3, 2024

As a mom to young children and a Macaroni KID publisher, finding family fun is its own kind of job (and dream job at that).  There are as many ways to have fun as there are types of families, and because of this I work hard to be choosy in my recommendations. Ideally, the subject of a Parent-to-Parent Review will appeal to a wide range of interests. This line of thinking leads me to vet events and activities in a few different ways.  Here are the three main things I'm on the lookout for when reviewing an event or activity:

  • Whole family fun and family friendliness: Is this activity enjoyable for everyone, or is it primarily centered only around the child? Is it easy for all to access and is the approach well-designed for children? 
  • Program Quality: What is beneath the surface of the activity or experience? Is this purely for entertainment (and that’s okay, too!), or will families walk away with new skills or an experience that aligns with or deepens their values?
  • Affordability and Flexibility: Is this a one-time experience or something families can financially sustain over time? Given how often things can change with family life, is rescheduling ever an option? How does the organization work with families as circumstances arise?

By now readers likely know, I'm a big fan of The Rewilding School.  I was more than happy to visit a new-to-us program recently and have the opportunity to share our impressions with you all. Here I am chatting about Wildlings, a program that has options during the week and on weekends, for children ages 2 - 5. Their upcoming Spring Forest Festival on April 6th is an ideal time to learn more about their other programs, and to experience their unique approach to place-based learning with the whole family. Grab your $5 tickets here.

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Long before I knew about Macaroni KID, when my oldest son was just about a year old, I had signed him up for Wild Ones with The Rewilding School. Two friends and their tots joined us, and in the wintery spring mix of March, we set off on weekend adventures in Marsh Sanctuary, led by outdoor educator Ryan. At the time I was amazed by all that the outdoors could teach young children. And I was also amazed by how much I learned from the outdoors alongside my toddler.  Before I was reviewing programs and making formal recommendations to families, I was excited by the whole family approach, the knowledge of the instructors, and the friendliness to the different ages, stages, and abilities of the participants.

Fast forward to the present day, and our brood has grown to include two more little ones. On a recent Saturday, we found ourselves promoted from Wild Ones, to being just the right company for Wildlings.  In terms of family friendliness, bringing my two-year-old and four-year-old to the same program is always a win.  Outside of scheduling and cost benefits, it's wonderful for their own cooperative sibling learning, and a multi-age classroom has many benefits, too.

The same sunny hills and wooded trails were the setting, and we tucked in between the marsh and the stream for serious exploration. My son and my daughter were each given a basket for treasure collections that would be used for mouse house building. Their shoulders visibly straightened with this sense of purpose and responsibility. Varied materials were studied by their small hands and discerning eyes.  They were particular about which leaves, pine cones, and twigs would make the most comfortable dwelling for a mouse.  (They were less particular about their rock collecting and weighed down both their pockets and mine with ALL the ones they just couldn’t resist, but that’s another story…)

Ryan pointed out birds along the way, chatted about edible plants, and built on their noticings and conversations as we walked - truly the guide - with gentle encouragement and support.  We stopped for a snack and a story, ever the toddler favorites, and had a little picnic under the trees.  Once stories were finished and little bellies full, it was clear that this was also the perfect spot to begin building.  Ryan coached into the simple structures and again the independence and pride in problem-solving radiated from the whole group.  Adults also were clearly enjoying working alongside their little ones, bonding over the shared project, and even starting their own roly-poly hunts by turning over logs.

As an educator, I appreciate the sense of non-closure and acceptance with a project like this one.  It’s impermanent and ungraded. The reward is in the work itself. Once satisfied with the collaborative structures, toddlers wandered off in pursuit of their own interests with their adults by their side and again, Ryan’s friendly commentary helping to deepen their understanding and expand upon their curiosity.

As a group, we worked our way back to the beginning, stopping to race sticks and play “sink or float” along the way.  We were unhurried; almost the antithesis of modern education which feels to be in a perpetual rush.  Buzz words like “child-led” and “real-world” pepper traditional classrooms but are seldom visible in practice.  Here, with The Rewilding School, both children and adults have the opportunity to stop, seek, and wonder.  At Wild Ones, Wildings, and other weekend programs, much of that learning is done as a family unit. Other opportunities for children or adults alone also exist, from Forest Preschool to Nature Club, as well as Wild Summer (weeklong camps) and Adult Wilderness Survival. There's thoughtfulness in the variety and many ways to be flexible, whether through Flex Passes, trial sessions, or the twice-yearly Forest Festivals. These are all aspects of the organization that I have appreciated over the years, and ones that you may find beneficial for your family, too!

Interested in learning more about The Rewilding School? Their IG account can take you right inside the learning and they're always responsive to email as well - 

When you reach out, be sure to share that Macaroni KID sent you! I'm always happy to be a resource both to families and to local businesses.

More information:

Phone: 914-306-5120


Rewilding Locations

  • Rhinoceros Creek Reservation
  • Marsh Memorial Sanctuary
  • Brinton Brook Sanctuary
  • Croton Point Nature Center

Find more family fun with Macaroni KID Armonk - Chappaqua - Mount Kisco - Pleasantville