Growing Urban Public School KinderGarten
in the Outdoor Classroom 

Did you know that some Kindergartens have school in the forest every week, or even every day? 

We are inspired by the forest kindergartens that were born in Europe and have spread to become a worldwide movement.  These vibrant schools conduct themselves outdoors in all seasons and all kinds of weather.   Research shows that children learn best when they are afforded the freedom of movement, choice, and fresh air that the forest can provide.

ERAFANS is excited to grow Forest Days, an outdoor learning program for public school kindergarten teachers and children. Most American children who attend forest school live in rural areas or attend private schools. But Forest Days branches out to a diverse population of children in urban and rural areas alike. 

Forest Days Mission

Forest Days provides ongoing nature-based professional development to public school educators through weekly child-directed, outdoor learning experiences with students.

Guiding Forest Day Principles 

Children have a right to safe, frequent access to nature

Learning can and should happen outdoors

Learning together   
Teachers are partners, guides, and researchers in the learning process

The natural world sparks curiosity, imagination and wonder

Children develop strong sense of belonging, culture, and identity by developing a relationship with the local environment

Learning By Doing
The most effective forms of learning are through hands-on, child-directed play and exploration

Collaboration, cooperation, and community are fostered through shared outdoor learning experiences

Like nature, all children deserve to be treated with kindness, empathy and respect   

Emergent Curriculum
Children’s individual thoughts and ideas are valued and drive the curriculum each day

Freedom of movement and choice provides opportunities for independence and risk taking, which foster self-confidence

Regular interaction with the natural world grows future environmental stewards

“Both the forest and the approach, the whole program we are offering, is about freedom in childhood. Children have the right to follow their own interests and explore the world in a safe and dynamic environment.  Children’s movements are so overly controlled in our culture, and this sense of freedom is more and more what’s missing from childhood.”       - Rachel Schwartzman, Forest Days Director

About Forest Days

The pilot program is offered at a Title 1 public school in the heart of Philadelphia, serving two kindergarten classes and four teachers. Our Forest Days Director leads weekly outdoor learning and exploration in the neighboring arboretum, walking distance from the school. Program includes direct work with teachers and children, documentation of child-led learning, on-going collaboration with staff in support of curricular goals, parent involvement, and supplemental nature-based teacher training. 

A Sustainable Approach

We work closely with partner schools for two-years, facilitating a gradual shift in school culture and approaches to learning. When the ERAFANS Forest Day facilitator completes the program, Forest Days is a sustainable program led by trained teachers and viewed as integral to the school community.  

School Partners

We are seeking public school partners to grow Forest Days! Interested partners for SY 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 should complete this interest form to see if we can work with you! 

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