Summer is here. So starts the long, hot days that leave me feeling nostalgic about my childhood. I spent the majority of the calendar year in school, yet it is in the summers where my most vidid childhood memories live. Summers catching fireflies, building play-forts, taking cardboards sleds down hills–all basically unsupervised.
Every summer my sister and I were shipped to our grandparents house, first in West Virginia and then New Jersey. There we spent every day outdoors only breaking to gulp down some sandwiches and lemonade for lunch.
This is the kind of childhood I want for Lewie– hours of unstructured outdoor play, not just during the summers, but his entire childhood.
And apparently this is a thing, in those enviable Scandinavian countries. They’re called forest kindergartens. Preschool-aged children get dropped off in the a forest every morning and then spend all day climbing trees and playing in rivers, even in the freezing cold. Of course there is a couple adults present, but the children are basically unsupervised, encouraged to explore. Read this article by the New York Times, it’s so fascinating.
Outdoor preschools sound amazing to me, giving children as sense of independence and respect for nature.
Also, children just seem to much happier when outside–less distracted and more engaged. After reading this article I searched for an outdoor preschool in Los Angeles, but no luck. However, if you happen to live in Seattle, check out Tiny Trees– they have seven preschools in public parks and are adding more!
Another benefit of outdoor care is that it’s significantly cheaper, especially if you live in a country where daycare is subsidized by the government. (Oh we can dream.) One of the main costs of daycare is the building and maintenance. But with an outdoor preschool, the trees are the shelter, sticks and rocks the play things.
It sounds pretty romantic to me, and also got me inspired to take Lewie out in nature more. Stuck in the city, it’s easy to forgot how LA is actually full of so much nature wonder.
Beaches, forests, and parks–these are my summer plans with Lewie.
How about you, would you enroll you child in an forest kindergarten?