Why We Chose Nature Preschool for Our Son
We live in a fairly large city (by our state’s standards) and there are a lot of options for preschools around us. So why did we choose nature school?
Honestly, ever since I learned these existed I knew I wanted my future children to be part of something similar. I didn’t think it was possible for the longest time, because up until this year (I believe), there were none available in the state of South Carolina.
The school we are sending Leopold to is starting it’s very first year this year. I’m excited to watch them grow!
Riverbanks Zoo is also starting a nature preschool this year. They are a little pricier (of course) and only a couple hours a day, 3 days a week. I believe there are about two other nature preschools in the state right now. Maybe in the next few years more will start popping up!
What is nature (or forest) school? Here is Wikipedia’s definition:
“Forest school is an outdoor education delivery model in which students visit natural spaces to learn personal, social and technical skills.”
We have been going to “Free Forest School” on and off for about a year now, and Leopold absolutely LOVES being outside. He is just as happy with rocks, sticks and mud as he is with any kind of toy (if not more so).
I believe there is much to be learned just by being outside and paying attention to the natural world around you. Toddlers are so inquisitive and so full of energy, it just seems unnatural to keep them in a classroom setting all day (not that there is anything wrong with it if you do).
The school Leopold will be attending has both an indoor and outdoor space. The indoor space is set up like a regular class room with cubbies, some open ended toys, books, puzzles, etc.
The indoor space will mainly be used for circle times at the beginning and end of each session, and as a respite for children who need to take a minute to calm down or rest. It will obviously also serve as a space to retreat to if the weather is presenting unsafe conditions.
Unsafe weather in nature school would be any heavy winds, thunder and lightning, and that’s pretty much it. If the heat index rises above 94 (so like every day in SC until late October), they will take regular water and rest breaks.
Otherwise, the kids will be outside in all weather! Rain, sun, snow, nothing will stop them from exploring outside. The outdoor space Leopold will be exploring is very well shaded, has a play structure and outdoor toys, and his favorite: a mud kitchen.
The kids are to have slippers to change into when they go inside, a rain suit for wet days, rain boots, and good outdoor shoes. And probably a million changes of clothes! You can check out my post about our nature school must haves here!
I love the open ended, child led aspect of nature school. The kids can explore and learn at their pace, and the teachers are there to guide them and encourage them as they go. One of the two teachers will be using Spanish with the children as well, and I love that!
I am hoping that by going to school all morning, Finley and I can get stuff done at home, too! I’d love to hit the gym after dropping Leopold off and then hopefully get Finley down for a nap so I can work on the computer.
I’d also like to use that time to spend some one on one time with Finley, doing things I did with just Leopold when he was her age.
Another goal I have is to implement a rest time when Leopold gets back from nature preschool. I’m sure he will be exhausted, especially in the first few weeks, and I know mentally and physically having a rest afterwards will be very important!
I’ll probably post an update once Leopold has been in nature preschool for a couple months, so stick around for that!
What do you think about forest school? Would you ever send your child, or do you prefer traditional classroom settings?