"Waldkindergarten" - outdoor preschool/wood kindergarten - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 50 Old 06-18-2008, 01:55 AM
 
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The closest I have in my area is Dodge Nature Preschool. My son attended for half the day 3 days a week. They either start inside playing with wooden toys, natural objects collected from outside or art projects, then head outside. Or they start outside, going for long hikes in the 300 acre nature center, visiting the farm next door. They build forts out of sticks, play hide and seek in the prairie, poke around in the pond looking for turtles, snails, and fish, climb challenge hill, plant flowers and vegetables, dig for worms to feed the class chicken or class turtle, bring out the turtle or guinea pig for a romp in the grass, tap maple trees, visit beehives, climb trees, slop through streams, sledding in the winter (kick sleds too), ice slides, etc.

The elementary school across the street also uses the nature center very regularly for hikes, science studies, etc.

Kris wife to Stew and mom to Joey 8/03 who cares for , 2 frogs and a worm
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#32 of 50 Old 06-18-2008, 01:58 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elizaear View Post
I'm still on the lookout for "forest kindergartens" in the states, probably more out of sheer interest. There are a few popping up in nature centers, which I think is great! Anybody here from the Chicago area?? Every time I go home for a visit I think to myself, "The Morton Arboretum would be a great place for an outdoor preschool..." *seuftz*
We visit family in Naperville a couple times a year and always visit the Morton Arb. It would make a fantastic location for a school!

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#33 of 50 Old 07-02-2008, 04:34 PM
 
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Originally Posted by elizaear View Post
I'm still on the lookout for "forest kindergartens" in the states, probably more out of sheer interest.
There's one on Vashon Island, just off the coast of Seattle.

Cedarsong Nature Preschool
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#34 of 50 Old 07-10-2008, 12:49 AM
 
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The Wall Street Journal had an large article on this within the past two months. Would be a good resource, perhaps.
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#35 of 50 Old 07-11-2008, 03:31 PM
 
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OP, we are neighbors, and skov børnehaven (forest kindergartens) are popular here as well. My son is in a typical kindergarten (for denmark - not usa!) but my friends daughter goes to the forest one and loves it. She said she wanted her daughter there because she is so full of energy (in mdc lingo high needs), though personally I think she is not high needs at all. In any case, they have a small apt. in town, and are cooped up, and her daughter loves the forest kindergarten. They are outdoor every day, wind, rain, sleet, snow... and really enjoy it. They have a small hut for absolutely necessary indoor times. I just don't think the "rules" would apply in the USA: like learning to use knives, or a 5 year old roasting bread over an open fire. The teacher-student ratio is also really reasonable. There are pluses and minuses with every place, and imo, this is a BIG plus.
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#36 of 50 Old 07-12-2008, 06:55 PM
 
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The only thing in my area that sounds close to that is Natureplay preschool, near Asheville, NC

http://www.naturepreschool.com/homepage.html

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#37 of 50 Old 07-17-2008, 04:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Pomona, funny you mention the WSJ article. The author, Mike Esterl, found this thread when he started his research on the article and contacted me via email. I talked to him on the phone and was really excited that he was looking into forest kindergartens. The article turned out quite nice, too:

Wall Street Journal article on forest kindergartens

Does anybody know of a nature center or preschool near a forest or nature preserve in their area that could accommodate a forest kindergarten? Think, think, think.
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#38 of 50 Old 07-17-2008, 10:02 PM
 
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There is a town near me that is building a trail directly from main street into the nearby Pisgah national forest within the next few years. Its a neat little town called Brevard in western North Carolina.

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#39 of 50 Old 07-20-2008, 02:12 PM
 
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thats awesome. we were in germany for 3.5 years with the army before ds was born (he was concieved a couple of months before we left, lol) and we're hoping to go back someday. id live to put my kids in a school like that

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#40 of 50 Old 07-20-2008, 07:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That's the thing. They are cool, really cool. And from what I gather, it probably wouldn't be hard to find enough parents in a given area who would send their kids to this kind of day care. So why isn't it happening?

There may be between 500 and 700 forest kindergartens in Germany, but it is individual parents and friends who got them going. Each forest kindergarten has its own story, starting with one or two interested parents and an idea. Most of them are only half-days with less than 20 kids. But that is still enough to work half-time. Ours is full-days and they would never do it differently.

I would love to dedicate my time and effort to building forest kindergartens, making the general concept more well-know and understood. But for now it's one step at a time.
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#41 of 50 Old 10-26-2008, 05:02 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elizaear View Post
That's the thing. They are cool, really cool. And from what I gather, it probably wouldn't be hard to find enough parents in a given area who would send their kids to this kind of day care. So why isn't it happening?

There may be between 500 and 700 forest kindergartens in Germany, but it is individual parents and friends who got them going. Each forest kindergarten has its own story, starting with one or two interested parents and an idea. Most of them are only half-days with less than 20 kids. But that is still enough to work half-time. Ours is full-days and they would never do it differently.

I would love to dedicate my time and effort to building forest kindergartens, making the general concept more well-know and understood. But for now it's one step at a time.
I feel the same way! I just learned about these from the newest issue of Mothering and I would love to be trained somehow and be able to start one here. People in my area would be very excited about something like this.

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#42 of 50 Old 11-09-2008, 05:38 PM
 
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yet another extremely interested mama here! what gets me though is why are the existing programs like these in the states so darn expensive?! you'd think that since your classroom is in the woods, the costs would be close to nothing. no rent, no utilities, no traditional school supplies. I just don't get it. it has gotten me really motivated though. I think a school like this would do beautifully here in KS!

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#43 of 50 Old 11-15-2008, 02:16 PM
 
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OH. MY. GOD!

I am so glad to have found this thread! I live in Northwest Indiana, close to Chicago. I know the Morton Arb.

BUT.

I think that I have a fabulous place for a Forest Kindgergarten here in NW Indiana. I work at a 170 acre eco-community called Tryon Farm. Here is the site:

www.tryonfarm.com

It has wetlands, forest, ponds, meadows, trails, chickens, a 100 year old barn...it would be PERFECT.

I am ACHING to start a school like this. I am currently an environmental educator for the county. So, I am fairly qualified.

If any mamas in this area are interested in working on this, please contact me:

[email protected]

I would really like to do this and have a lot of ideas.

Crunchy, working mama to three awesome kiddos-2 born at home!
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#44 of 50 Old 12-04-2008, 05:55 PM
 
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I just want to bump this thread as I am still really excited about starting a program like this!!! :

Anyone around NW Indiana or Chicago or SW Michigan that would be interested in getting something like this going?

Crunchy, working mama to three awesome kiddos-2 born at home!
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#45 of 50 Old 12-21-2008, 12:41 AM
 
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I am working on starting an outdoor preschool in Asheville, nc. I am currently looking for a location. My degree and training is in outdoor education and my work experience is in early childhood education, so I'm really excited about blending the two. Please PM me if anyone living close wants more info or if anyone has any suggestions or just wants to exchange startup ideas. Thanks!

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#46 of 50 Old 12-30-2008, 01:30 AM
 
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Hello. We live in central Indiana and was wondering if you could send me more information about this program. I am also interested in possibly starting a program for my children and any other interested parties in the area, but if there is something already existing...I would rather use that

Thanks!





Quote:
Originally Posted by webjefita View Post
A friend of ours just started a group of Forest Boys/Kids at his family farm in central Indiana. The brochure the facilitator gave us talked about Waldkindergarten, so it seems to be based on that. This is held for 2 hours a week on a working 10-acre farm with woods, creek, animals, gardens. We are pretty excited about it!
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#47 of 50 Old 01-04-2009, 02:36 AM
 
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Originally Posted by nkintzel View Post
I just want to bump this thread as I am still really excited about starting a program like this!!! :

Anyone around NW Indiana or Chicago or SW Michigan that would be interested in getting something like this going?
Do you know of The Field Station in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore? It's certainly not even close to a Waldkindergarten but closer than the typical preschool in a church basement that we have around here. The location is pretty perfect. They're tucked down a dead end road in the national lakeshore and have a sixty year lease on an old farmstead. They've renovated a barn and are renovating the house.

We would *love* to have a true Waldkindergarten available to our children. My husband runs an environmental education center and I work in outdoor programming as well and the fit would be perfect for our family. Our children do attend this program but it's not even close to what we want. The outdoor time they get is super structured and almost feels obligatory rather than the free play time that we feel they need.

(For us, unfortunately Tryon Farm would be way too inconvenient to get to on a daily basis. My husband does know/work with Ed Noonan?)

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#48 of 50 Old 01-12-2009, 09:12 AM
 
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I've been trying to find a school like this and it is challenging! I would even be happy with a school that had a decent outdoor area (with nature, not just blacktop or play structure).

I think the closest thing to what you are describing around here is this preschool in the Los Gatos, California mountains:

http://www.lgsons.com/
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#49 of 50 Old 01-14-2009, 06:10 AM
 
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You guys, my kiddo has been going to one of these schools for the past two weeks, and it has been so incredible! They're outside the whole time in a forest--afterwards, she's all relaxed and it's like she went to a spa! Seriously! She behaves better, she's so nice to be around, she laughs more, there's no after-school overstimulated mess to deal with.

I asked her today what she likes about it, and she said "I like that kids are more gentle to me when we're outside." I got all teared up...

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#50 of 50 Old 01-20-2009, 11:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all again for all of the tips. There a quite a few "nature based" preschools around, but that certainly is different than a forest kindergarten which is based also on unstructured outdoor play. I find the cost and hours of such preschools also very discouraging.

Rzberrymom: is your daughter at the Cedarsong preschool? I'd love to hear more!

These kinds of programs exist in Germany because parents have taken the initiative over and over again to found preschools that fit their expectations. Imagine: around 500 preschools in a country about as big as Montana and each of them founded by a parent that invested the time and energy to make it happen. Crazy.
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