A forest kindergarten is a type of preschool education for children between the ages of three and six that is held almost exclusively outdoors. Whatever the the preparation of the child for kindergarten, children are encouraged to play, explore and learn in a forest or natural environment. The adult supervision is meant to assist rather than lead. A forest kindergarten can be described as a kindergarten “without a ceiling or walls”.
The daycare staff and children spend their time outdoors, typically in a forest. A distinctive feature of forest kindergartens is the emphasis on play with toys that are fashioned out of objects that can be found in nature, rather than commercial toys. Each forest kindergarten is different, partly because the organisations are independently minded. Walking to the woodland, from the building. Forest kindergartens operate mainly in woodland, although some other sites can be equally inspiring, for example beaches and meadows. There should be a building where children can shelter from extreme weather.
They may also spend a small part of each day indoors, although that is more likely to be for administrative and organisational reasons, such as to provide a known location where parents can deliver and collect their children. Children are encouraged to dress for the weather, with waterproof clothes and warm layers, according to the climate. There are some forest schools that take children of various ages to woodland less frequently, and with a stronger focus on environmental topics themselves. For example, the “Woods for Learning” strategy of the British Forestry Commission proposes “regular” access, for example once a week for eight weeks.