Why a Forest Kindergarten?

Why The Wild Woods?
In today’s fast paced world, children are losing unstructured free time in the outdoors while at the same time spending more time in regimented activities created by adults. Think of a normal American preschool schedule:
  • Drop off/discovery time 7:30 - 9:00
  • Circle time 9:00 - 9:30
  • Outside 9:40 - 10:10
  • Hand wash/potty time followed by snack time 10:15 - 10:45
  • Circle time 10:50 - 11:00
  • Teacher planned activity 11:05 -11:35
  • Circle time/Story time 11:40 - 11:55
  • Hand wash/Lunch 12:00-12:30
It is a common belief that this type of schedule helps prepare a child for kindergarten by teaching them how to transition from one activity to another while also allowing for teacher designed activities to teach the beginnings of traditional academics.
It is our belief that although this model is effective for some children it is not beneficial for all children. At The Wild Woods, we feel that children can become as, if not more prepared for school from our more non-traditional, nature immersion, child interest led flow based learning experience. Below are the different ways in which your child’s development will benefit.

Cognitive Benefits:

  • Children constantly get to work on the following skills: concentration, observation, exploration, building, sorting, experimenting and collecting. And when done in the context of free play, children become deeply immersed in what they are doing instead of feeling as if they have to be doing these things.
  • Studies have shown that children learn best while being active: moving, dancing, singing and playing, all of which are encouraged in a nature school.
  • In Germany it has been discovered that children who participate in nature/forest schools have a better sense of problem solving and critical thinking than peers from more traditional preschools when beginning formal schooling due to the teaching and learning style of nature/forest schools.

Physical Benefits:

  • Do to the amount of physical activity a child receives in a nature school, children become adept at: digging, running, hiking, balancing, skipping, tumbling, jumping, climbing, carrying heavy and large objects, coordination, and navigating uneven, natural terrain. All in all, children in nature immersion programs develop exceptional fine and gross motor skills.
  • Children develop a sense of how to take risks and what is safe versus unsafe due to all the physical activities they engage in.
  • By being active as a young child, children are less likely to become obese and are more likely to become active adults.
  • Studies have found children in nature immersion programs have stronger immune systems leading to fewer illnesses.
  • Time spent in nature has been proven to improve children’s vision by encouraging refocusing from near objects to far away objects and back.

Social/Emotional Benefits:

  • Unstructured free play in nature encourages socialization and teaches: cooperation, negotiation, compromise and teamwork/team building.
  • Children are allowed to work through real life problems and scenarios through free play. This gives them a chance to make sense of the world around them and allows them to work through any anxieties they may have.
  • By having open spaces and removing traditional toys and replacing them with the items nature provides, the potential for conflict is reduced which encourages healthier social development.
  • Children are taught to be kind and thoughtful towards all life through modeling by our staff, while also learning how to communicate and work with others.
  • Children develop a sense of self through unstructured free play.
  • Children become more grounded, calm, relaxed, and focused after prolonged quality nature immersion.
  • Children have a chance to engage in restorative attention, or soft focus, while immersed in nature, leading to a sense of calmness. This also leads to a decrease in attention/focus issues.
  • Nature immersion provides children a chance to be quiet and still which can lead to a peacefulness that is often lost in today’s chaotic world.

Spiritual Benefits:

  • Nature immersion encourages children to develop a sense of wonder and awe about the natural world.
  • Children learn to see the beauty that exists all throughout the natural environment.
  • By being exposed to nature as a place of calm during childhood, the children are able to grow up with an appreciation and love of nature and they are able to recognize nature as a place to be cherished and enjoyed.
All and all, nature immersion allows children to be children. They are able to be loud and run around. They are also able to sit and be still and enjoy the peace and quiet provided by nature. The children are allowed to be themselves which is key to making them feel comfortable and maximizing their growth and development.
All of the above reasons are why we encourage you to allow your child to: Learn, grow, and BE a child in nature at The Wild Woods!

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