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

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#1 of 50 Old 08-08-2007, 06:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am from the states but live in Germany with my family. My children are 1.5 and 3 years old, my 1.5 year old is in day care and my 3 year old is in a German Waldkindergarten. This means:

They meet (their teachers) at the train station every morning at 8am and take the train two stops to just outside of town. From there they walk into the forest and spend the morning outside - breakfasting, playing, doing arts and crafts, running, jumping, rolling, inspecting plants and animals, learning about seasons and food, and just about anything kids usually do inside - just outside in the forest.

Around noon they head inside for lunch and a nap. In the afternoon they either stay inside and play (with trains, blocks, puzzles, paints, etc.) or they go outside and play on their playground (mainly a big sandbox). The kindergarten is open until 5pm.

Have you ever heard of anything like this in the states? Where can I find kindergartens like this?
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#2 of 50 Old 08-09-2007, 05:40 PM
 
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I am from the US, moved back from Germany 2 years ago. I was unable to find one.
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#3 of 50 Old 08-09-2007, 06:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your answer, though. Were you involved in a Waldkindergarten in Germany? It makes me sad, but we have the choice of either staying here or leaving and we will probably stay, because I just can't imagine my kids spending their early-childhood-daycare-days any other way. But I do get homesick...
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#4 of 50 Old 08-09-2007, 11:24 PM
 
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i know there is at least one in california but i forget where. my cousin hwo i think is three years old is in an outdoor preschool in norway but they are outside year round and have no indoor space at all just a place with light shelter but not really indoors.

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#5 of 50 Old 08-12-2007, 10:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Maybe I should have posted this in the general education forum... I don't even know how to find out about this kind of kindergarten - I don't know what it would be called or where I could look for one.

The idea does come from Scandinavia and varies in its implementation. Many of these kindergartens in Germany offer only morning-day care and have a trailer to go into for bad weather and drop off/pick up time. We are very lucky that ours is a full fledged preschool/kindergarten - but yes, the kids are outside every day all morning: rain, snow, sleet, sunshine... They were inside this spring a couple of days because we had an Orcan come through.

Is there any way to move this post?
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#6 of 50 Old 08-12-2007, 10:33 AM
 
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This is, in part, why we homeschool. We spend a great portion of our day outside. We have other homeschoolers join us often for group learning and games which require more kids. Not sure if that is an option or an interest in your situation. Best wishes finding or creating what you want.
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#7 of 50 Old 08-12-2007, 10:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We live in Germany right now - our kids go to kindergarten because we are finishing up school ourselves. And if we were to move back to the states (my husband is German) it would be in part because there are more interesting jobs for me stateside.

Kind of paradox - more interesting jobs (not to mention my ouwn culture), but living there would mean needing to homeschool for lack of better options. I can stay here and work in a somewhat-less-than-dream-job, but my kids love going to school and I know that it's really good for them. I'm starting to get used to the idea of living in Germany for the rest of my life.
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#8 of 50 Old 08-12-2007, 12:23 PM
 
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wikipedia has an article on outdoor preschools called wood kindergarten here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood_kindergarten

i did once manage to find a few in the united states looking on google but i don't seem to be finding any now. i plan to homeschool my child and make spending time outside a huge part of that. we probably won't be out in the middle of the day though because i sunburn so easily and my child probably will be getting my fair skin and sunburn easily as well. i find outdoor schools very fascinating.


edit to add:
i did find this http://www.lakeoswegoreview.com/sust...68384457083300
looks like one is starting up someplace

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#9 of 50 Old 08-12-2007, 12:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I actually found that Waldorf outdoor kindergarten today - it's a start! But the wikipedia article is only a loose translation from the German article...
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#10 of 50 Old 08-13-2007, 08:58 AM
 
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I can move this to the general Learning at School forum since it seems to defy categorization!

Hope you get someone else who knows more about this interesting approach!

 
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#11 of 50 Old 08-13-2007, 02:32 PM
 
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This sounds heavenly. I'm jealous. Good luck.
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#12 of 50 Old 08-15-2007, 04:33 PM
 
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There are some nature preschools...

http://www.ecoinstitute.org/naturelinks.html
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#13 of 50 Old 08-20-2007, 11:20 AM
 
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my dd1's school sounds a little bit like this, but they do have more indoor time. they have a 12 acre campus and are outside every day. they go on nature walks on science days (2 days a week) and other days at the teacher's whim. they play on the wooded playground every day rain or shine. my dd1 does not like being outside in the cold though...brrrr...

we do have a native german mom at school!

are you interested in moving to a particular region of the US? that might help narrow things down.

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#14 of 50 Old 08-20-2007, 11:24 AM
 
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Wow. That sounds awesome.
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#15 of 50 Old 08-20-2007, 11:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
are you interested in moving to a particular region of the US?
Good question. Not now. We are finishing up school and then we are open for change, depending on lots of factors. And a kindergarten is one of them. But my stance is starting to change...

I read recently that 5% of German kids are in these so-called "Waldkindergartens" - it may not seem like a lot but they are catching on here. Ours was founded by a mom who really wanted her daughter to go to this kind of kindergarten last year. It opened in August and my ds started there in October. He loved it from the start. (He's always been a day care kid since we have to study, but he had recently switched from his great day care to a very nice kindergarten (2.5-7) where he was absolutely miserable. From the first day on in the forest there's been no turning back, no misery, no "but I don't want to". We just had a 3 week summer break and he asked after 4 days when he gets to go back to kindergarten! He's 3!!)

The founding was hard work and there is still enough to do around and about, but everything runs quite well. The hours are awesome, the teachers are great, the concept is to die for. Maybe I'll dive into the behind-the-scenes work here and try to found one myself if we ever move.

I'm from the Chicago area, and I already have enough ideas about where this kind of kindergarten could be "implemented" - I bet every city has enough possibilities. Even Berlin has multiple Waldkindergartens - some of them (in cities) meet in big city-parks or forests.

I really hope that this starts to catch on. If anyone wants to look at some pictures or knows any German, our kindergarten's website is: http://www.waldkinder-ilmenau.de there are some pics if you click on "Wissenswertes" and "Galerie" (edit: here Pictures)

Maybe I'll get around to translating it sometime...
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#16 of 50 Old 08-22-2007, 03:11 PM
 
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Although not exactly what you described, my home Playgarden is similar in nature.. also many of the women on my natural childcare groups run programs like mine. I have a childcare directory on my website but it is not nearly as full as I would like - maybe this could be a starting point for you? Or feel free to join my yahoo groups on the home page of my website.

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#17 of 50 Old 08-22-2007, 07:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Eileen! It's nice learning about new and interesting nature-based day cares - I'm glad that the concept does exist!

I'm still blown away by how incredibly different our Waldkindergarten is - and I'm incredibly thankful. I don't even know if this would be entirely possible (as it is here) in the states. There are just forests all over the place in Europe that more or less belong to nobody. (As you may notice: I'm not even close to being an expert.) They belong to the city, or the state, or the country and are often "rented" to the forester or a hunter or such for long periods of time. But they aren't like state parks. Anyways, the kids have a whole forest to play in. Hills and streams and feeding-locations and little cliffs and large meadows and on and on. Check out the pictures.

And thanks again!
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#18 of 50 Old 08-22-2007, 07:35 PM
 
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They are starting a nature-based school in Portland, OR, this year. I don't know much about it as it's just starting up, but you can visit the website at http://www.shiningstarschool.com/.
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#19 of 50 Old 08-24-2007, 04:09 PM
 
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we have a farm-based preschool near me, at about $15,000 per academic year (for half-days) it's out of our league, unfortunately.

Mom to DS 5/05 and DD 9/08
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#20 of 50 Old 01-25-2008, 04:11 PM
 
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I am so excited to have found out this sort of thing exists. I'd love for my kids to attend one of these daycares!

If you know of anything in my area, I'd be so grateful!

Thanks!:
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#21 of 50 Old 01-25-2008, 04:45 PM
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You might try looking into Reggio Emilia schools. In my limited experience they allow for a good bit of outside time. Not nearly what you are describing though. And many of these are only preschool or maybe kindergarten too (which is for 5 year olds here).

There are also some private schools that emphasis outside time and operate on farms, etc. For example, in the DC area the Burgundy Farms Country Day School. (I only know this school from it's website--can't provide any details beyond that.) Those schools may be quite pricey though.
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#22 of 50 Old 01-25-2008, 07:38 PM
 
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Thanks for that, I haven't heard of Reggio Emilia schools (sounds Italian). I'll see if there's anything around here...
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#23 of 50 Old 01-30-2008, 04:26 PM
 
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I love the idea but I think it would be hard to implement here. In that Wiki link it said they go indoors when it is colder than -10 for safety, over half our year is colder than that, this week with windchills of -57 outdoor play is not an option that cold for even 10 minutes let alone half days. I think I need to move to a warmer climate.

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#24 of 50 Old 02-19-2008, 11:22 PM
 
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: My preschool is located on a 2+ acre lot with a small stream inhabited by fish, salamander nymphs and crayfish. We have a forested area with critters, fungi and wildflowers. We even have an urban fox that seems to come by daily. We are engaged in restoring the site after 87 or more years of human habitation. One of our principles is to provide playthings from nature another is to learn from nature's pattern for the land. My husband operates Susten Ecosavvy Homes www.susten.com and he is ready to start building a Deep Green school on the site. Our building will produce 85% less global warming pollution than a typical school of its size. Our goal is for the site to be a net generator of solar electricity within the next ten years. The building has been designed with the intent of bringing nature in and helping the students be comfortable when out in nature. Natureplay is located in Asheville NC 28806.
We had not heard about waldkindergarten outdoor preschool, wood kindergarten until after we had started our school it is comforting to know that others have had these ideas also.
Visit us on the web at www.naturepreschool.com or call us up at (828) 350-7529.
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#25 of 50 Old 02-21-2008, 04:46 PM
 
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I've heard them refered to as Forest Schools, try expanding your search.

http://www.forestschools.com/

And FTR, Shining Star School in Portland is a Waldorf School, nature based but not nessecarily the same thing
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#26 of 50 Old 03-25-2008, 09:22 PM
 
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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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#27 of 50 Old 03-25-2008, 11:21 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zo's ma View Post
I've heard them refered to as Forest Schools, try expanding your search.

http://www.forestschools.com/

And FTR, Shining Star School in Portland is a Waldorf School, nature based but not nessecarily the same thing
I think you are a bit mistaken. My children attend Shining Star School. While Shining Star IS a traditional Waldorf school, we ALSO have an outdoor kindergarden based on the Waldkinder/Nokken model, where the children spend the majority of their day outside in nature. It is separate from our regular Waldorf school, and is located across town, on an organic farm, next to a 700 acre forest. It's called The Mother Earth Kindergarden and the article that was posted earlier talks about it

FTR, it has been very successful and will be expanding this next fall to include an outdoor nursery school on the same site. Here is a link to their web page for anyone interested.

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#28 of 50 Old 03-26-2008, 02:44 AM
 
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Well whaddaya know.....not the first time I've been mistaken for sure!
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#29 of 50 Old 03-27-2008, 05:51 AM
 
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I'm in Switzerland and there are also quite a few Waldkindergartens here, although not many for 3 year olds I think...rather like 4-6. Where we live there is a private one (not too expensive) where they come pick the kids up at home in a funky bus and drive them over to their forest place for the morning. It's 4 half-days a week.

Also, our local village kindergarten (public) is right near a large forest, and they have started a Waldprojekt where the kids are in the forest every day for the whole first semester of the school year and then only a couple of days of week in the winter. They meet at the schoolhouse (which is actually an old Swiss farmhouse) and then they walk together over to the forest. It's fab, and free!

I know this doesn't help you with your question, but I also wanted to add that the forest kindergarten movement is often referred to in Waldorf circles in the US, so it isn't a bad idea to start your search there. However, these sorts of things usually cost a LOT more in the US than they do in Europe.

good luck!

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#30 of 50 Old 06-17-2008, 07:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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*

I've done some translating on our forest kindergarten's website and will translate the rest in the coming weeks, in case anyone is interested in the nitty-gritty details of forest kindergartens:

Forest Kindergarten Ilmenau, Germany

Suggestions are welcome!
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