While searching for a teaching position at an international school last winter, I came upon the outdoor preschool at Lakeside School in Zurich. My interest was sparked, and I spent a few hours google translating with my jaw dropped, reading about outdoor schools in Europe. In the states, one might think of outdoor education, but this is different. And so so wonderful.
A Wood Kindergarten (or outdoor preschool / waldkindergarten / forest kindergarten) is a school concept that began in Scandinavia, and, as wonderful ideas do, it travelled. These schools can be found in Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, and now in the UK. I'm sure there are more countries...but I feel so lucky because I get to go to The Secret Garden Outdoor Nursery...the first outdoor preschool in the UK. I'll be attending a workshop there in January.
Working with children in the forest for the past few months has shown me how nature can engage children. When we go into the forest, everyone is happy, cooperative, and focused on the task at hand -- exploring nature. In my work in Seattle, we would walk around the block once a week, or take a field trip to one of the many beautiful parks, but that is not quite the same as spending all day, every day, out of doors. Last spring, I took my class on a field trip to Discovery Park, and the children had an amazing time with their arms in the sand, mud all over their pants, and sea slugs in their hands. I wish that could have been every day. Beach preschool!
I'm incredibly grateful for this opportunity, and I can hardly wait to share what I see and hear.
photo by tillwe