Monday, March 28, 2011

Forest Kindergartens

    Yesterday, while scanning the bulletin board at our church, I was captivated by an article about the first Waldkindergarten in the United States.  Cedarsong Nature School, located in Vashon, Washington, accepts children ages 3 to 5 and is held entirely outdoors.  While gathered for three hours in the woods, the children are free to roam, make hideouts, sing, gather for snacks and play.  They learn about the medicinal value of plants, make unique nature journals, create musical instruments and tell stories.    The goal is for the children to learn through direct experience with nature.

   I would have loved for Elliot and Emily (when she was little) to have had this experience.  Alas, there is nothing like that here.  In fact, although our public elementary school sits on a piece of property with direct access to miles of wooded hiking trails, a lake and an outdoor ampitheater created specifically for the school, in the last year of our walks behind the school, we have not seen one class gathered there. 

   This is in complete contrast to Cedarsong, which says

"Our programs are designed to fully engage children and adults in exploring the natural world while encouraging their sense of wonder. Our aim is to inspire a deep appreciation for the natural world by providing hands-on experience and opportunities to feel comfortable in the outdoors, developing lifetime skills they take with them wherever they go. Through the ongoing study of natural and cultural history, our participants deepen their understanding of the world around them, building a heartfelt relationship with nature and community."      

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