Forest school, also known as nature kindergarten, adventure school, Waldkindergarten, etc, is a program in which children spend their time outdoors in all weather, playing freely rather than following a teacher-centered curriculum.
The key concepts are:
- Being outdoors! In all weather. Rain, shine, snow.
- Child-led learning
- Place-based experience
- Love and respect for the environment/nature
There are numerous benefits to spending time outdoors engaged in self-directed play. It develops gross- and fine-motor skills, creativity, and resilience against boredom.
The movement as practiced in Scandinavia and Northern Europe has been around for 50+ years, and is quickly growing new roots in North America. It is crucial to note that many of the principles valued by forest school theory are intrinsic to Indigenous peoples’ pedagogy and relationship with nature, and therefore, Indigenous ‘forest school’ has been practiced in North America for ages before the recent advent of Scandinavian-inspired schools such as Riversong.