Mother Nature is at the heart of learning for preschoolers at forest kindergartens around the world.
The curriculum at these preschools or nurseries, where class is held in the middle of the forest, consists of discovering nature, building confidence, experimenting safely with tools such as knives and building fires.
Forest kindergartens are where the classroom is held in the middle of the forest, and the curriculum consists of discovering nature, building confidence and experimenting with tools such as knives and fire on the curriculum.
They offer a type of preschool education where children are encouraged to play, explore and learn in a forest or natural environment. They spend their time almost exclusively outdoors, and adult supervision is meant to assist rather than lead.
Children attending forest kindergartens learn most effectively through play experiences. This is about creating interactions with people and the places where they play, learning to care for nature and the world in which we live. The children have the chance to discover nature everyday with their senses, they discover the way of life, the harmony of the forest and they find out that they are a part of this.
Forest kindergartens enable children to learn experientially about the concept of sustainability. Being outdoors in a natural setting enables children to develop a connection with the natural world that can lead to long-term environmental awareness, understanding and positive action.
The history of the forest kindergarten dates back from 1950s Northern Europe. The forest kindergarten is a common educational model throughout Scandinavia. In Germany and Switzerland there are now more than 1,000 forest kindergartens.
The video below shows a day in the life at a forest kindergarten in Germany. Parents drop the children off in the morning, and then they walk a mile or so into the trees with their teachers, where they learn about their personal strengths and abilities while picking berries, building huts, hiking, and more. No matter the weather, the kids stay outside. Even naptime is held in the fresh air under a cosy shaded tent.
Forest kindergartens are starting to show up in the UK and the US now. While in Japan and South Korea, forest kindergartens are proving to be very popular.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea