Few can deny the power of fresh air and nature. An escape for many and a place of peace, but how many have ever thought it could make for a classroom? Kindergartners at Antioch School are receiving the most natural education possible, and both the parents and students are on board.

Derrick AlgerTrading paper and pencil for practical survival skills, the students have taken to their lessons with eager enthusiasm. Having already constructed a lean-to large enough to fit them all, the kids are ready for winter, and the ability to test our their cold-weather training. Focusing on practical skills like building fires and outdoor safety, the children are receiving a practical education to last them a lifetime.

A combination of subject matter and location help to create the illusion of play with a thick layer of real-life skills. Kindergartners are quick to grow, and it’s not often as an adult that we are called to the “story carpet” to show and tell or stack blocks, but the skills being taught to these youngsters have the potential to ignite a passion for the outdoors and physical activity. More prepared for the wilderness than some adults, these kindergartners are laying the groundwork for skills that may very well save a life in the future.

First developed in Europe, the Forest Kindergarten movement showed promise as a place where kids could learn in a stimulating and natural environment. Studies have shown that children participating in the program exhibited positive emotional reactions, reducing their stress levels while learning. More than just climbing trees and flipping rocks looking for bugs, this educational program relies on the children to set their own schedule, catalog their findings, and follow specific directions for completing outdoor tasks. For more on this program and other schools interested in doing the same, click here.