Gillian R, Parent
Letting children play outside is good for their health and good for their development. From the first time I found out about forest kindergartens in a parenting book from the library, I was excited to learn more, and then delighted to find that one was starting up within walking distance of my home in Giffnock. There will be plenty of time for alphabets and counting, later. At this age, it’s more important to find out who you are, how to deal with other people, and how the world works. Nature lets you do those things better than anywhere else. There is plenty to learn of its intricate complexity, but it is also a much richer backdrop against which to learn abstract concepts than a playground or a even disinfected classroom. The seasons, weather, landscapes and plant life are fascinating, and build a great foundation for a healthy adulthood. The challenges that children face allow them to try to work together and devise solutions. The endless space is a rare treat that encourages imagination, reduces conflict and stress. With my first and second children in primary school, my third has just started going to a state nursery in the mornings. There is no pressing need for all-day childcare, because my wife is usually at home, but the idea of the forest kindergarten has captivated us. We decided to forego the state nursery and pay for one day a week. We save money by paying tax-free through my employer, and look forward to being able to transfer the state funding full time, when that’s available. Fears about safety and stranger-danger have grown out of proportion and led to more passive TV watching, indoor games and adult-organised activities. These ignore the opposite risks of poor health, limited experience of the world, unimaginative activities and poor risk assessment by children. Some people are even frightened of the rain. Forest kindergartens confront the myths face-on, winning praise from government and experts alike. The staff at Woodland Outdoor Kindergartens are first rate. A dazzling array of qualifications in forest school leadership and primary school teaching underlie the simple truth that the children have a good time with them. They’re prepared for anything, but know when to stand back. My son loves it. Every time he goes, he comes back full of excitement and asking when he can go again. The day doesn’t need to be packed with planned achievements. They can take a nap, listen to a story, dig a hole, climb a tree, find something new, or try something that might not work. I want him to have the confidence to take the initiative, and I’m sure the forest kindergarten will help. I wish this had been available earlier, for my other children.”
“What the WOK team is doing is brave, ground breaking, adult challenging, child affirming, natural and life changing!