Forest Kindergarten


Photo taken from the Antioch School Facebook Page 


As Corbett states in her book “Communicating Nature” one of the main influences on how a person views the environment comes from their childhood experiences. There has long been a perception that “Europe does it better”. European citizens are more likely to care about their environment using green energy  sources, recycling etc. Why is this though? How do we get Americans to share these same ideologies instead of denying world’s ecosystem is NOT changing at a drastic rate?

By changing childhoods. Of course this is not a simple solution, and also not the solution to the major problem but it could be one way to get more young impressionable children outside and connecting to nature. My father teaches at a private elementary school in Yellow Springs, OH that is one of the first schools in the US to start a “forest kindergarten”. This is a very European movement getting young children outside and into forests as a form of their primary learning instead of being taught in a class room. No matter the weather, or time of year children pull on rain boots and hike out between the trees exploring streams and the forest floor, expanding their senses and learning about nature first hand.

The movement was started in Germany in the late 18th century and has grown since and is called Waldkindergartens, directly translating to Forest Kindergarten. The point of these early experiments were all about “Nature Immersion” and that continues through today, having the early impressionable school years not inside walls. As children are pushed more and more indoors as nature areas shrink and neighborhoods become sterilized I hope this movement can take off in the US and more children can spend their beginning school time forming a relationship with nature, that we know from Corbett is invaluable.



6 thoughts on “Forest Kindergarten

  1. Ive never heard of this before! but i think its such a great idea no doubt. Getting kids to appreciate nature at a young age is so cool, as opposed to experiencing it on their own like i did. Programs like these could possibly be the start to new developments in environmental protection. Recognizing the different aspects of the forest that humans can benefit from without diminishing its resources or beauty should become a thing outside of government protected parks and reservations. All land should be appreciated and little things like this will certainly help!

    Chandler B


  2. I’ve also never heard of it but i think that this is BRILLIANT! I also liked how you used the verb “pull on rain boots” because thats totally how it needs to be. Children are becoming less and less exposed to the forest and nature in general, and weather is often an excuse. Roughing it out through rain storms, etc. is such a good way for kids to learn through experience rather than “Smart Board”.

    Mikayla Hounchell


  3. I’m with the other two. I had no idea this was even a concept, let alone an actual thing. I personally think this is genius, children need to be exposed to nature and it’s beauty. And to learn about nature along with a normal curriculum is so important. This needs to be something that others need to know about!

    Andrew Ebding


  4. I have never heard of this idea but I am completely enamored by it! This truly excites me. I wonder if doing something like a “forest kindergarten” for many elementary grade levels would be beneficial as well. Not only are children being better educated this way, they are possibly being much more healthy!

    Erica Bock


  5. Nicely said. Forest kindergarten and weekly hiking for all of the older children at that Antioch School has indeed been both fun, relaxing and a wonderful way to foster a deep and long term relationship with nature and sense of stewardship for the environment.


  6. Wow this looks so awesome! I wish this was around when I was little. I think it is so important for children to be involved in the natural world. Its really cool that yellow springs is forging the way for hiking to become a part of a young life early on.


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