What are Forest & Nature Learning Centres?
Although they may have different names (Nature Kindergarten, Outdoor Learning Centres, Waldkindergarten, Rain or Shine Learning Centres, Bush Learning Centres, etc.) the primary goal of the Forest Learning Centres movement is to provide children with regular and repeated access to a natural space for child-directed, emergent and inquiry-based learning.
As an educational approach, Forest Learning Centres (FLC) has existed worldwide since the late 1950s. In FS, children spend anywhere from a half day to a full day outdoors in various urban and near-urban parks, natural spaces adjacent to or on learning centre grounds, or natural playgrounds and outdoor classrooms.
FS is both a pedagogical approach and a program of delivery. It can be part-time or full-time. It can take place in a range of outdoor settings, with various age groups, and at all times throughout the year.
FS activities are as varied as the children who attend them and the environments in which they are rooted. They are also guided by the season, climate, landscape, animals that have visited the night before, trees that have blown down in the wind, the kinds of provocations elicited by the educator, various tools and loose parts for building and creating, the children who are in attendance, how long the group has been formed, and most importantly, what interests the child.
Sometimes children will work independently, finding solace in their own world and creations and ponderings. Other times children will work collaboratively to create something, problem solve, support one another, dream of a bigger and better world.
Here are a few articles to support Forest and Nature Programs In Canada:
POSITION STATEMENT ON ACTIVE OUTDOOR PLAY
FOREST AND NATURE LEARNING CENTRES IN CANADA: A Head, Heart, Hands Approach to Outdoor Learning
DEFINING FOREST LEARNING CENTRES PART 1- WHY VISIT THE SAME LAND MANY TIMES?
DEFINING FOREST LEARNING CENTRES PART 2- WHAT DO YOU MEAN “EMERGENT CURRICULUM?”
Child and Nature Alliance of Canada.