HEADING TO THE FOREST: Bringing Joy, Accomplishment & Hope to Children

This is the second installment of a two-part series. In the first part of this article, we visited a nature-based early childhood program in a forest preserve on the western edge of Chicagoland. Here, children found treasure, became pirates, engineered a raft/bridge and adventured for long distances in the winter woods. In this part, we’ll head both east and west—to public schools in northern New England and to a predominantly Latino community in the Boulder County, Colorado community of Lafayette. Forest Days in Public Schools A similar kind of surprising naturalized innovation is happening in the public school kindergarten classrooms in Vermont and New Hampshire. Understanding the strictures of public school education, but thinking that one-day-a-week wasn’t too much to ask, kindergarten teacher Eliza Minnucci and her colleague Meg Teachout initiated a Forest Day program in her Ottauquechee Vermont public school in 2013.  They meandered up into the forest behind the school where they created a forest classroom with a fire pit (approved by the local fire department) and constructed a shelter for backpacks and equipment, a pit toilet, and out-of-the-rain spaces for really rainy days. They committed to most of one full day a week in the woods, followed by an hour […]