WHAT IS FOREST SCHOOL?
We are a forest school, modeled after the nature preschool movement that began in Europe and has more recently spread to the U.S. We spend most of our time outdoors in the forest, woods, pastures, playgrounds and gardens. This is balanced with our intimate home setting, mud kitchen and backyard – a home base from a day of wild discoveries (best of both worlds!). We maintain a 4 to 1 child to adult ratio at all times with children under constant supervision. We prepare a safe and supportive environment each day. We ask that all children arrive with appropriate gear for all kinds of weather conditions and we will provide recommendations to parents.
Our program is play-based with a inquiry-led curriculum and a focus on hands-on science exploration, identifying the local flora and fauna, gardening, and caring for little creatures. Our days spent outdoors naturally emphasize healthy social development as we interact with nature and each other. We will keep a daily practice of storytelling, journaling, reading and acting out stories, singing and dancing. We also offer a variety of creative process-art, and "forest art" activities, as well as loose parts and sensory materials for construction and dramatic play. We have many opportunities for climbing, balancing, and other physical challenges and risk-taking on our adventure playground. Some days we head out on longer hikes into Forest Park and the nature woodlands and the meadows.
Why focus on nature?
Time spent in nature is very important here at Kew Kids. You may ask, "Why focus on nature?"
Supports multiple developmental domains. Nature is important to children's development in every major way – intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
Supports creativity and problem solving. Studies of children in schoolyards found that children engage in more creative forms of play in the green areas. They also played more cooperatively. Play in nature is especially important for developing capacities for creativity, problem-solving, and intellectual development.
Enhances cognitive abilities. Proximity to, views of, and daily exposure to natural settings increases children's ability to focus and enhances cognitive abilities.
Improves academic performance. Studies in the US show that schools that use outdoor classrooms and other forms of nature-based experiential education support significant student gains in social studies, science, language arts, and math. Students in outdoor science programs improved their science testing scores by 27%.
Reduces Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) symptoms. Contact with the natural world can significantly reduce symptoms of ADD in children as young as five years old.
Increases physical activity. Children who experience school grounds with diverse natural settings are more physically active, more aware of nutrition, more civil to one another, and more creative.
Improves eyesight. More time spent outdoors is related to reduced rates of nearsightedness, also known as myopia, in children and adolescents.
Improves social relationships. Children will be smarter, better able to get along with others, healthier, and happier when they have regular opportunities for free and unstructured outdoor play.
Improves self-discipline. Access to green spaces and even a view of green settings, enhances peace, self-control and self-discipline.
Reduces stress. Green plants and vistas reduce stress among highly stressed children. Locations with greater number of plants, greener views, and access to natural play areas show more significant results.
(This information is supported by the Natural Learning Initiative. www.naturallearning.org)