Forest Kindergartens

I watched a TV program on forest kindergartens in Denmark.

The kids seemed to be enjoying themselves splashing through puddles, climbing trees and exploring their surroundings.

ForestWhy wouldn’t they? The whole learning program is based on things kids can do outdoors in any kind of weather.

The only thing their parents have to worry about is appropriate clothing.

Far cry from the sort of early learning experiences most urban based kids enjoy these days, but not so different from what I was doing as a boy.

When I was between the ages of 3 and 8, we lived in a sawmill town in the middle of a massive pine plantation in the south-east of South Australia. The trees were literally a couple of streets from home, and within easy walking distance for a group of adventurous boys.

We had formal schooling during the week but on weekends and after school we had the forest.

I watched a blond Danish boy climb a tree on the TV, and thought of the many times I hadForest climbed into the very top of a pine tree, up into the part that swayed in the wind. In our play there was no adult standing at the base of the tree supervising. We only had to be home before dark.

That part of South Australia gets a lot of rain, so another environment we had to explore was the world of the swamp. That world appeared in the winter months and transformed the verge of the forest into a watery wonderland, teaming with life and groups of kids in rubber boots.

Sure, you got your clothes wet but nobody drowned.

I think of the play opportunities my kids had. They had a backyard with a dog, trees, a tree-house and a fair amount of space. We lived close to a river but my young sons, living in suburbia, only ever got down to the river with adult supervision. They at least had access to nature and wild places. One of them took off into the wilds as a boy scout, camping out and learning bushcraft.


I wonder about kids growing up in apartment buildings without access to anything natural or wild. What picture of the world do they end up with?