I began teaching groups of young children 24 years ago. I had searched for a peer learning environment that was welcoming and inclusive and created a gentle and encouraging environment to thrive in. I started my own program when I was disheartened by the jarring manner of interaction between the children in the programs I visited, and continue to visit yearly. This same unguided interaction is also present on any playground, when we stop to listen. I knew there was a better way, a kinder way, of being and learning, speaking, and socializing. I saw a need to cultivate and teach a more compassionate and thoughtfully intentional manner for the children to learn and develop their social skills in. Very few programs teach children how to interact, and speak to one another. That is where I begin in my teaching,  gently setting an example and assisting children in connecting their heart with their spoken words and actions, to create an environment where children are free to learn. We have cultivated a calmer, all inclusive and bully-free learning and playing environment, and are committed to each child to provide days which will nurture their growth and development.

This is a beautiful process to see, and one of the outcomes it provides is the freedom and ability for the children to wholeheartedly use their imaginations and speak their ideas more readily and openly, without worry of rejection from their peers. It opens the  children up to learning, by eliminating the distraction for the need to defend oneself from hurtful interactions. Hurtful interactions absorb energy and refocus the whole group in a negative direction. In the Forest School we have found a way of refocusing  the potentially negative energy thus creating a greatly effective learning environment. All around it is a wonderful way of teaching, learning and playing. We are then free to have fun.

I added the Nature Immersion to the program fourteen years ago, when I was hearing more and more children protesting about being outside, or not wanting to walk, thus missing so much of the experience of being in nature. I decided that I needed to do more for my students in this regard. After researching the evidence that shows the importance the natural world has on our life, I learned how to switch my practice of teaching a little bit. I was already practicing much of what I have learned with my students. I was now able to convey to more parents how important environmental learning and tactile discovery is for our children. It is essential to our health and well-being in so many ways and it helps children tremendously in their ability to learn. I learned that the artificial environments that we so lovingly created for our children were leaving them starving for the natural world, and doing them a disservice in preparing them to learn in school. Now, entering our tenth year immersed in nature year around, here we are today, thriving, learning, laughing and growing.

With all of that said, I am guessing that you may have a few questions. Please feel free to call and we can discuss the options available to suit your child’s needs.

To learn more or to enroll in The Forest School Nature Immersion Early Childhood Education please call Michele del Castillo at 612-920-6330 or email michele@forestschoolmn.org.