Nature and Play Based Education
Forest Schools and Nature Preschools are a growing trend in education as the role they play in the development of healthy and happy children is increasing. The number of forest schools and nature preschools in the U.S. has grown by more than 500% since 2012. (See Map).
Regular outdoor experiences and unstructured time in nature have dramatic and profound influences on a child's healthy development. Through play, children develop a host of important skills, such as creativity, critical thinking, cooperation and confidence and the social and emotional skills that are the foundation for all learning.
Muddy Boots - CAPN's Forest Kindergarten Pilot Program
In the fall of 2017, CAPN received funding from PNC Bank which supported a pilot forest group program modeled after forest kindergarten. Muddy Boots our grant funded forest group modeled after forest kindergarten. Muddy Boots provided a safe space for children ages 3-6 to create and discover through outdoor play in all weather and all seasons at the magical forest site at the Woodland Pavilion and along the creed on the Sun and Shade Trail. Muddy Boots offered an opportunity for children to explore for themselves and encouraged them to think, discuss, problem solve and make new friends and build a foundation for lifelong connections to the natural world. To stay consistent with the forest school model, the Muddy Boots program provided opportunities for 12 children along the three program facilitators to maintain a ratio of one facilitator for every four children.
Forum on Forest Kindergarten and Nature Preschools
In March 2019, CAPN hosted a Forum on Forest Kindergarten and Nature-Based Learning at Bernheim. The participation demonstrated the growing interest and support for expanding these opportunities for children in the region.