Naturally Nurtured Nature
What is a Pre-K/Forest Kindergarten?
Forest schools have been around for decades in Europe, however are relatively new to the States. A forest school, also known as forest kindergarten, nature kindergarten, or nature preschool, is a form of early childhood education that is taught entirely in forests or woodlands. Learning takes place entirely outdoors in all seasons. Focus is on social-emotional and physical development in a 100% outdoor, natural setting.
“Forest Kindergarten” is a form of early childhood education based on the German model of waldkindergartens or “forest preschool.” Children learn in a natural environment with experienced adults who support their self-initiated play and discovery.
In Europe, parents believe that preparing for school means developing social-emotional and motor skills first–academics follow later. There are many forest kindergartens in England, Scotland, Sweden, and Denmark. In Germany alone, there are more than 1,000 forest kindergartens formally recognized and subsidized by the German government. The first forest kindergarten in the U.S., Cedarsong Nature School, began in 2008, and many more have emerged nationwide over the past decade.
Forest kindergartens seek to re-establish a balance of indoor versus outdoor time in childhood.
“This is important in a world that is becoming ever more digitized and removed from reality,” writes author David Sobel. “This flips the concept of real on its head. What’s real is technology and the built environment; the natural world becomes distant and ‘unreal.’'
Who Are We?
Our Forest School pedagogy is found in the theory and practice of the Reggio Emilia approach.
This philosophy gives children choice and freedom in constructing their own learning. Unstructured Nature Play is practiced where children are given space to create their own experience.
We embrace a resilient mindset and give children the opportunity to solve problems on their own. Developing new skills and resolving challenges in the face of frustration can cultivate empathy, flexibility, self-awareness, and self-regulation, together known as “emotional intelligence.”
We believe that developing initiative, persistence, creativity, and a capacity for problem-solving are essential to future academic success.
To improve a child’s physical and mental health, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children engage in 60 minutes of daily unstructured free play. Richard Louv writes in his book, Last Child in the Woods, "Time in nature is not leisure time; it's an essential investment in our children's health."
With a 1:5 teacher/student ratio, we provide educational experiences in outdoor settings to encourage their natural curiosity and help them gain respect for the natural world.
It’s not just climbing trees and playing in the woods. Each day is filled with what nature provides as we integrate lessons of each season.
We greet our day in a circle as we prepare for our adventure. Songs, stories, and visual creative arts are shared to cultivate a sense of wonder for the natural world. We explore the natural environment around us. We journey daily through the creeks, meadows, and the hickory/oak forest. Some days will include tracking animals, listening to birds, and building shelters. We will use our 5 senses to explore our native environment and develop self-care habits (managing our belongings, clothes, shoes, and backpacks, etc.).
Much of our time together is spent in unstructured, imaginative play, which the children lead. There is no stagnant pre-written curriculum to follow and push on each student. Academics are learned through playing with products in nature. Examples include building, counting, and constructing art and sculpture with sticks, acorns, leaves, bark, berries, nuts, and rocks. Drawing numbers and letters in the dirt is a fun way to learn the early building blocks.
We aim to inspire a love of learning, a love for the earth, and compassion for all living things.
Forest learning is the most direct pathway to cultivating and strengthening divergent thinking, social and emotional skills, cognitive functions, physical competency, confidence, and communication skills. One of the most important benefits of forest learning is empathy for the natural world and building a long-lasting personal connection to nature.
Core Elements of a Forest Kindergarten
All-weather nature immersion time every day
Child-led Flow Learning
Inquiry-based Teaching Style
Child-inspired, child-directed documentation of Emergent Curriculum
Small class sizes
Core Elements & Benefits
All-weather nature immersion time every day.
The teacher is the facilitator, the teachers support the kids during their learning and discoveries.
Free Play is "Natural"
Outdoor play leads to better behavior and academic performance.
We offer opportunities for "risky play" and to change the stigma of "playtime" as "wasted time."-Richard Louv
Tailoring learning to each student's strengths, needs and interests.
Playing in nature triggers a students curiosity which is important to help them develop their own skills. Giving students "voice & choice" in determining what, when and where they learn. This allows different types of learners to develop at their own pace.
Freedom given to children to discover all the wonderful and fascinating things in the world around them for themselves.
Children discover a fascinating world where they use curiosity to learn in a natural way.
Curiosity leads to questioning which is the start of Inquiry-Based learning.
Reggio Emilia Approach
Everything that a child experiences in the environment, is based on the emerging interests and curiosity of the students. We engage, interpret, observe, and document to guide our practices.
Benefits of Learning Outdoors
Gross motor development
Reduces Attention Deficits
Resilience & Perseverance
Stimulates cognitive learning
Build Self esteem
Motivation to learn
Develop executive function
Age 3 by September 1
Age 4 by September 1
Programs and Custom Activities in Science and Physical Education
year round camps
Open for Scouts, Churches, Schools, Family Reunions, and any Clubs or Groups for Campouts, Meetings, Day trips and Special Activities.