nature explorers

What is a Forest School?

by Mr. Jay

Forest schools, or waldkindergartens, as they are called in Europe, are early childhood preschool/kindergartens, where a majority of the activities take place in an outdoor setting, preferably, in the woods. Of course, each one is different, and there are many factors to take into account. An accessible woodland suitable for exploring and playing, along with a suitable shelter for extreme weather, is important. The children should become comfortable with an outdoor approach to education by introducing them to the woods gradually. A park or private lot near the woods, where children can be educated and play in familiar surroundings becomes the base. From here, the relationship with the Forest School teachers can build trust as the children develop self confidence in the outdoors. When they are ready, the teacher(s) can lead a group to familiarize themselves with the trail into the woods. These initial outings allow the children to explore the woodlands while establishing physical and behavioral boundaries. Once the safety procedures, hygiene, and routines are in place, a child-led approach to projects can take place.

nature explorers
Ms. Lee leads some nature explorers!

First, the basic needs of the children should be met (Maslow’s Pyramid of Hierarchical Needs). The children should be dressed properly in order to keep warm and dry in all types of weather. Healthy snacks and/or meals should be available, as well as plenty of water or warm drinks. Of course, the safety of the children, both physically and emotionally, is of utmost importance. Once these are taken care of, the learning and fun can begin!

 

Creek Explorers
Chilly morning creek explorers!

Circle time is the highlight of the day, with hand and finger gestures accompanying simple songs. Snacks and meals can be a pleasure, when eaten outdoors with friends. Learning about plants, trees, birds, and animals can be so much fun, too! Children learn to recognize evidence of animals: tracks, scat, or food remains. They learn to identify fossils. Social skills are strengthened, physical skills are honed, and mental skills are built up. Learner-led, play-based, and nature-immersion are the foundations of a Forest School.

Snowy sunset
A panorama of sunset in Mt. Airy Forest with snow on the ground.

Of course, if you’d like to learn more about Little Schoolhouse in the Woods, or find out how to contact them, you can click¬†here.

Check out and Like our Facebook Page

or our Google + Page

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *