Are you looking for the right forest nursery to send your little one to? As you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume that you are already sold on the many benefits that forest schools can provide.
The forest school approach can be inspirational. By providing hands-on learning experiences in the outdoor natural environment, the specialised forest learning develops self-esteem and confidence for life, not just the early years. Having made the decision to send your child to a forest nursery, the next key question is which of the increasing choice of nurseries and kindergartens is the best match?
In this article, we take a look at some key elements to consider when selecting the right forest school nursery for your child.
What outdoor environments does the learning take place in?
The whole ethos of the forest approach revolves around the many benefits of learning in the great outdoors. With the environment being so central to the learning experience, it’s only natural to give some careful consideration to which environments your prospective nursery is based in.
The environment that surrounds your child in their early years can have a fundamental impact on the rest of their life, as well as shaping their personalities in the here and now. Learning in a forest nursery allows your child to explore physically, socially, intellectually, emotionally and culturally. The rich variety of woodlands that our settings include offer the perfect environment for exploration and experiential learning.
Since opening our first Avon Heath forest kindergarten in 2012, we have opened 4 more sites, with our newest at Lytchett Minster that opened in September 2018. Although each nursery works to the same teaching process, the natural settings are completely unique.
We are proud to be able to offer such a rich choice of settings and experiences, which open up a world of learning opportunities. From our organic farm at our Lymington forest kindergarten, to the beautiful scenery of a Nature Reserve and the ocean at our Durlston kindergarten, we feel we offer some of the very best learning environments in Dorset and Hampshire, and even perhaps nationwide. Click here to find out more about our forest kindergartens and why choosing a forest school nursery can be the best choice for your child.
What principle activities does the nursery offer?
When children start at forest nursery they enter a completely different environment, full of new experiences, people and challenges that they learn to overcome. As you learn more about the prospective nursery you are considering sending your little one to, it’s a good idea to find out more about the activities that the nursery provides and the key skills they place most emphasis on developing.
At Kids Love Nature, one of our main aims is to nurture confidence, prepare children to take on day-to-day life, and prepare them for school. Some of the principle activities we focus on to teach children independence, freedom and confidence include:
Learning from mistakes
What are the staff like?
The staff team at your prospective nursery are absolutely fundamental to the learning experience of your child. Obviously, it is really important to visit your prospective nursery and speak to the staff. Open days provide a convenient opportunity to visit, but it can also be more insightful to visit on an ordinary working day, which gives you the chance to observe how the staff communicate with the children and each other.
Some helpful questions to ask about the staff include:
How do the staff talk to each other, as well as the children?
What is the staff to children ratio?
Is staff turnover stable?
What qualifications do the staff hold?
Have the staff had early years training?
How does the nursery help children to embrace nature?
Nature should be at the heart of everything that a forest nursery does. Obviously, it’s the outdoor learning environment that sets the forest school apart from more traditional educational experiences. The key values and activities that your prospective nursery provides to nurture a connection with nature are key questions to ask.
We are committed to keeping nature at the heart of everything we do in our kindergartens. From our educational approach, to designing and managing our woodlands, Kids Love Nature is all about helping children to embrace nature at its finest.
Some factors to ask your prospective nursery about include:
Physical space – we understand that not all children want to be outside all of the time. We carefully structure our physical space and our schedules to offer our children a choice of both indoor and outdoor learning. Our kindergartens are carefully designed to enable exploration, both indoors and outdoors.
Learning approach – nature and the outdoor environment should be central to every forest nurseries learning approach. We are focused on allowing children to develop remarkable skills of critical thinking and imagination, with the natural environment being the stage for learning.
Giving children choice – children are unique, and the environments and schedule should offer the flexibility and choice to enable children to develop freedom and independence.
Recommendations from other parents
Understandably, many parents go with a nursery based on recommendations from other parents. We are proud to get great feedback from parents here at Kids Love Nature which you can read on each kindergartens Facebook page.
In addition to speaking to other parents, it’s also a wise move to read your prospective nurseries Ofsted report. All our Kids Love Nature kindergartens are proud to say we were designated ‘100% outstanding’.
How can I find out more about Kids Love Nature?
There are many places you can find out more about Kids Love Nature and our ways of teaching. The Our Story page provides an overview of our ethos, values and mission. Our Blog includes insights into daily life in our nurseries, the activities we offer, as well as our latest news and views on our unique approach to early years learning. Our Kids Love Nature Facebook page includes even more great photos and videos of our children enjoying their day-to-day activities.
If you’re interested in finding out more about one of our Kids Love Nature forest nurseries in Dorset or Hampshire, get in touch, click here to arrange a visit. Paying us a visit is the perfect opportunity to see us in action.