Forest Kindergarten Program
Taking the children to the forest, whether as part of the kindergarten program, or our weekly forest days in the grades, enhances our curriculum by adding in nature immersion, awareness and connection. Nature Immersion is defined as “unstructured free time in nature resulting in an intimate, deep and personal connection to the natural world”. That means their play is not directed – they are free to dream up all sorts of activities and games with one another, or simply enjoy the feeling of being surrounded by a lush tropical jungle. Teachers are present as loving assistants, and go with the flow of learning.
The children make forts, palm fronds become brooms with which to tend their homes, they swing from branches, they dig for clay in the earth and they collect bugs, snake skins and all sorts of other natural treasures. They get dirty! When they leave for the day they are smiling, tired, and dirty! (So please only play clothes so you can embrace this program without laundry remorse.)
Nature awareness activities, games, and practices foster curiousity, wonder, and exploration, and should be inherent in every childhood and into adulthood. Awareness is something that naturally exists within us, yet is dulled by modern life, which is very much removed from our environment. In order to support a strong connection to the earth, and its elements, we regularly reconnect to our local landscape, observing and tracking wildlife, working with the weather, and indentifying and respecting native plants.
For our young ones in the kindergarten, just like with our school-based program, there is still a predictable rhythm of the day – making snacks together, meal times, a circle, story time, and seasonal songs.
On our forest days, they not only get fresh air, things like imaginative play, creativity, hand-eye coordination, balance, physical strength and mental clarity are all fostered and encouraged.
Being in Florida makes school outside a comfortable reality for most of the year, and our local preserves and parks provide the perfect setting to play among the oak hammock, forest, and mangroves. The long term gains of learning outside in nature are well researched. Having held weekly forest days for our grades children over the past five years, we can attest to the benefits in all areas, from social-emotional skills, to academics.
Here is a wonderful article citing various research articles about learning in nature:
Please Call 941.927.3711 for more information for the Forest Kindergarten Program, which is for ages 4-6.