Happy International Forest Kindergarten Day!
You may have heard of forest kindergartens, but did you know that there is a world-wide confederation of forest kindergartens? And that there are forest kindergartens ALL over the world?
And not only that, there is also a Forest Kindergartens for future that supports the movement started by Greta Thunberg!
Now you may be wondering, do all these countries have forests? And, what do forest kindergartens have to do with climate change? Or even, that looks so amazing, I want one too, but I don’t have a forest!!
Well, forest kindergartens are about so much more than forests. They are about bringing children into nature – whatever nature you’ve got handy, a park or a beach will do, even an urban garden in a pinch. And they are about an entirely different approach to education and learning.
Forest kindergartens – and the schools they are giving rise to – start with children’s bodies and senses, with children’s unfettered curiosity, and with adults as guides and guardians, rather than teachers and disciplinarians.
Forest kindergartens are a radical restructuring of education because they start with the child and her sensory interest – be it mucking in the mud, or sitting on a stump just being, or gathering an armful of sticks and laying them out, or struggling up a steep slope and skidding down to the bottom, over and over and over again. Forest kindergartens don’t worry about facts or ABCs or national standards (although being knowledgeable, reading and meeting national standards can easily rise out of going to forest kindergarten). The goal of participating in this kind of schooling is for children to follow where their growing and developing bodies take them.
Forest kindergartens support children’s own learning structures and processes, as well as the development of their strength and physical self-knowledge. And this means that the structures needed for forest kindergartens are quite different than those we are used to creating for traditional schools. It is not just a question of space; it is also about the mindset and skill set of the adults who work with the children.
What a great way to celebrate International Forest Kindergarten Day