1/5

Pedagogy

  "Now I know the secret of making the best persons; it is to grow in the open air & eat & sleep with the earth."

                        -Walt Whitman

Forest School:

Forest School, also known as “Forest Kindergarten”, is an early childhood approach originating in Europe with pedagogical similarities to the Montessori, Waldorf, & Reggio Emilia philosophies.  It is offered across a spectrum and in the purest European preschools, children are outside learning all day, every day, rain or shine, often without a building to return to in the event of inclement weather.  By definition, Forest School programming connects children to the same natural space at least six times over the course of the seasons (at SOL, children visit the forest at least 32 times in a school year). We are often asked if our Treeschoolers become bored with visiting the same site over time, but they never do because with Mother Nature as “co-teacher”, there is always something different or new to discover and explore! This place-based approach allows children to intimately connect with "their forest", in the same way that many older generations knew every nook and cranny of their backyard, or nearby woods. In the process, a care for our green planet is nurtured and new Stewards-of-the-Earth are cultivated. 

SOL is deeply committed to the Forest School Principles set forth by Forest Schools Canada, a program of the Child & Nature Alliance of Canada, as well as the core elements of a Forest Kindergarten set forth by the American Forest Kindergarten Association - Mission. 

We believe that ALL children, regardless of race, ethnicity, skin color, creed, gender, gender-orientation, family make-up, socio-economic status or ability-level:

  • have the right to connect to the natural world;
     

  • have the right to wonder (and their wonder & curiosity provides the foundation for our emergent, place-based, heart-centered, constructivist teaching approach);
     

  • have the right to engage in daily, child-led, open-ended, independent, wonder-driven, soul-satisfying play;
     

  • have the right to health, happiness, and learning opportunities that allow for the development of social-emotional, spiritual, linguistic, critical-thinking, creativity, character-building and physical skills, that are best nurtured in nature, and that these skills form the foundation for their future academic success;
     

  • have the right to the solace, serenity, silence, and solitude that is offered in nature, and that these attributes can be best discovered through frequent mindfulness practices, rituals, and routines offered in a forest school setting;
     

  • have the right to a community filled with attentive, supportive, nurturing adults made up of parents, grandparents, teachers, volunteers, and like-minded community members; 
     

  • have an inherent goodness & unique intelligence to offer to our program and the world.

Furthermore, we believe that:

  • we all live, laugh, learn, and love under the same big sky and as such, SOL Forest School embraces a “Pedagogy of Peace” that is rooted in our one and only forest school rule, the “Rule of Care”;
     

  • access to Nature is a Social Justice issue and we are committed to exploring ways in which our Forest Circle can welcome Treeschoolers who may not otherwise receive the opportunity to learn alongside Nature, through scholarships, partnerships and a possible formation of a SOL foundation;
     

  • fostering an understanding of the Native American people who have long cared for and tended the lands where we currently learn and play is an important aspect of place-based education, and in embracing this belief, we endeavor to build relationships with local Native American partners;
     

  • partnerships with parents are crucial to wholistic child development, as well as the first step towards growing a supportive SOL community;
     

  • community is a crucial component of growing happy humans and now is an important time in history to “think globally and act locally” by collaborating with local artists, story tellers, business owners, farmers, school leaders and indigenous educators to co-create the type of community we want to live and thrive in;
     

  • that Earth knows when we are present and that She is delighted by the sounds of children playing beneath the forest canopy, the touch of small hands upon the ground, the feel of tiny bodies climbing her tree branches, and the sight of sun-drenched, mud-covered Treeschoolers!