Forest Kindergarten: Teaching the art of being still
Have you experienced forest kindergarten with your child? It is a fun and educational way to move your classroom outdoors!
Allow me to take you into my world of teaching forest kindergarten.
As a mother of three, my oldest being a five-year-old, I am always looking for creative ways to help them explore their world, while making sure I’m educating them in a way that will have long term benefits.
Benefits of “schooling” in the forest
Two years ago, I stumbled across an article covering the benefits of schooling in the forest.
Image yourself and your children, using nature to learn.
Just take your children and go somewhere outdoors!
It can be a park, a national forest or even just your own backyard.
Use the world around you; sticks, dirt, rocks, and observe the animals that naturally live in these habitats. Practice being still for a while, this helps you align your senses and realize how much life surrounds you at all times.
Teaching the art of being still
Teaching the art of being still in a world filled with technology and instant gratification can be difficult at first. So, take small steps to help you and your children learn this skill in order to be successful.
Initially it might seem overwhelming, but in the end, it’s quite simple: go out with your children and let them learn from the world around them.
Just sensory information from the world around us.
I prefer to come up with a theme when we head out on a forest kindergarten adventure. As their instructor, this helps keep me on a path, and allows them to fill in the details. I believe it is imperative to allow them the freedom to expand their minds, in the parameters I have set for them.
How we forest kindergarten adventure
My children during a forest kindergarten adventure in June of 2017.
When we start our day, we dress in clothes that would be appropriate for the weather we will encounter. Including them in this small decision helps empower my children before they even leave the house. Ask questions prompting them to choose the correct clothing for the day.
After we choose our clothes, move to footwear. Is it appropriate to wear flip-flops while hiking? No! We need shoes we can comfortably walk in, or perhaps we are choosing to not wear shoes at all!
When we arrive (or even just choose to go into our own backyard), I share with them the theme I have chosen for that particular day.
On a previous forest kindergarten adventure, we decided to talk about motion. By studying the trees we learned how the forest rocks and sways, then we made boats from twigs and leaves and talked about the water propelling the sticks down the river.
This organically created questions such as, ‘why does water roll downhill?’, ‘will a small stream have as much power as a rushing river?’
Next time we focused on building and talked about nests various animals had created, and how the mountains formed. Finally, that day, we made our own teepee with twigs and string.
Every time I chose to add in an extra element of hiking, just to help my children burn some extra energy. We walk about a quarter mile along a path, then start our school. This also helps them acclimate to being outdoors.
They learn what they are allowed to do, and how at certain times it’s appropriate to yell, jump and kick, while other occasions you need to be quiet and still.
My suggestion is to allow your child to drive the conversation and leave time for questions and observation. Do not feel overwhelmed if you don’t immediately know the answer! I think it is good for your child to see you problem solving with them and learn something new.
It is always a huge hit for our family!
When you take time to unplug, and move closer to the world, you will have an amazing experience. Don’t let the idea scare you - forest kindergarten is an amazing experience for everyone involved!