Only after taking my Forest Kindergarten Teacher Training did I truly understand how magical a Forest Kindergarten is. My search for a truly holistic way of learning for children was met in so many ways by the Forest Kindergarten method. My mentor, Erin Kenny, was not only an amazing educator but also a magical spirit that was able to transform a forest experience into an amazing learning journey, not only intellectually, but also socially and emotionally. I feel all educators (and in turn children) would benefit from the Forest Kindergarten method as explained below.
Forest School is different from other outdoor learning experiences in two ways. First, Forest School takes place in the same setting on a regular basis over an extended period of time. This gives students the opportunity to learn a great deal about the area and enables them to develop a lasting connection with nature.
Second, while there are some structured elements, the Forest School curriculum is largely emergent, child-directed, and play-based. The ethos of Forest School allows learners the time and space to develop their interests, skills, and understanding through practical, hands-on experiences. At Forest School, young people have the freedom to explore, play, build, create, imagine, and use their senses to experience the outdoor environment and engage with one another. Sustainability is woven into the culture of the classroom, and as nature becomes the third teacher, sustainability becomes the foundation on which both children and teachers stand.
At Forest School, there is a strong emphasis on educators observing, learning with, and teaching students in the context of the environment. This process of observation allows children the space and opportunity to delve into various activities and experiences guided by their imagination, rather than explicit, external direction. It also leads to a process of inquiry in which educators’ primary role is to ask a multitude of questions based on what is emerging from a student’s questions, experiences, and imagination. The guiding principle at Forest School is that children are competent and engaged learners, and with guidance and support, are able to lead their own learning process in directions far beyond what an educator can initiate on their own.
Principles of Forest and Nature School:
takes place in a variety of spaces, including local forests, creeks, meadows, prairie grasses, mountains, shorelines, tundra, natural playgrounds, and outdoor classrooms.
is a long-term process of regular and repeated sessions in the same natural space.
is rooted in building an on-going relationship to place and on principles of place-based education.
is rooted in and supports building engaged, healthy, vibrant, and diverse communities.
aims to promote the holistic development of children and youth.
views children and youth as competent and capable learners.
supports children and youth, with a supportive and knowledgeable educator, to identify, co-manage and navigate risk. Opportunities to experience risk is seen as an integral part of learning and healthy development.
requires qualified Forest and Nature School practitioners who are rooted in and committed to FNS pedagogical theory and practical skills.
requires that educators play the role of facilitator rather than expert.
uses loose, natural materials to support open-ended experiences.
the process is as valued as the outcome.
requires that educators utilize emergent, experiential, inquiry-based, play-based, and place-based learning approaches.
Taken from; “Forest and Nature School in Canada Guide” pub Forest School Canada, July 2014