What Is A Forest Kindergarten ?

The Wild Woods: A Forest Kindergarten is an exciting new venture coming to Jewart’s Gymnastics. This will be a new style of early childhood education program to our area that has enormous benefits to children. Forest Kindergartens have been popular in Europe and have been spreading to the United States, primarily in the Northwest and New England areas. Our forest kindergarten educational philosophy will be based of concepts shared with us from the Cedarsong Nature School in Vashon, Washington.
You may be asking yourself, “What in the world is a forest kindergarten?” Well, the appropriate way of answering this question is by telling you what The Wild Woods is not. First, The Wild Woods will not be inside. By having the five acres of woods behind the ropes course as our classroom the children will be able to explore every day and learn while doing so, no matter what the weather. They will be able to watch the subtle changes that occur in nature throughout the seasons, from the first buds of spring, to the lush tree top canopy of summer, to the last leaves of fall falling to the ground, to the stillness of winter, and all over again. As adults, we take this natural activity for granted, but to a child these are magical transitions that create a sense of awe and wonder. The children will also have a chance to observe those many subtle changes that occur from one day to another. And through the use of leading questions by the teachers, the children are able to hone their understanding of the scientific process. Each day’s exciting adventure will begin as we cross the bridge by the retaining pond and descend into our classroom, making observations all along the way.
Secondly, The Wild Woods is not a teacher idea driven program with a set agenda or curriculum for each day. The idea behind this decision is that children are inherently intelligent and curious beings. By allowing them to choose what they want to do, they can participate in activities that piqued their interest. This allows the children a chance to learn and grow in a comfortable setting at their own pace. Instead of telling the children what to do, the teacher serves the role of a guide, helping the children dig deeper into their thoughts and imaginations to create their own world and their own knowledge. This also allows each student to become the teacher, sharing their knowledge with the other children, which helps them grow and teaches each child the importance of helping one another. Also by being as much of a guide as a teacher the children are shown how to deal with conflicts and ask for help from a peer in a healthy way.
Lastly, The Wild Woods is not a place with toys and gadgets with fixed parts that predetermine their uses. It is our belief that by removing toys besides digging tools, buckets, chalk, and a few musical instruments, the children are left with only “toys” with loose parts. They are actually left with just sticks, stones, and leaves. These three items will be turned into whatever the child sees fit. With all the media children are exposed to, the chance to step away from the screen and the single uses of most toys, the children can be creative and begin to create the foundation for higher-level problem solving skills later in life.
With the children being integral to the direction of the activities each day at The Wild Woods they will be excited to come and learn everyday. As our slogan says, “Learn, grow, and BE a child in nature at The Wild Woods Forest Kindergarten!”

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