The Forest Is Our Classroom
All-Outdoor Preschool Hosts Information Session in Croton
CROTON, New York, April 1, 2019 — All are invited to the Croton Free Library this Tuesday, April 2, from 6-8pm to learn more about The Rewilding School's all-outdoor Forest Preschool, entering its second year this fall.
Based in Croton’s Brinton Brook Sanctuary, the Rewilding Forest Preschool will offer half-day morning and afternoon sessions starting this fall in an all-outdoor 156-acre setting that includes meadows, streams, deep woods and a pond.
“Kids need to splash in puddles, crawl through bushes, pick up sticks, listen to birds, catch bugs, play in the snow, and dig for worms,” says the school’s founder, Eric Stone. An experienced naturalist and primitive skills educator, Stone is also a certified Wilderness Skills Instructor, Wilderness First Responder, and licensed New York State Guide, with over a decade of professional guiding experience.
Through immersion in the natural world, Forest Preschool students discover their own connections to the land and each other. Students hear stories about wild plants and animals before acting out various aspects of forest life through games and imaginative play. Branches become “beaks” that the children use to find bird food, and forest debris becomes “nests” for forest creatures.
Participants can expect to help build fires, watch birds, forage for berries, play in snow, and shoot bows and arrows. They can also expect to come home with the occasional scrape or insect bite. “The outdoors can be a scary and unpredictable place,” Stone says, adding that “it is these qualities that make it a perfect environment for young kids to learn about risk and reward.”
Indeed, recent studies have shown the benefits of nature-based play for all ages. School-age children with access to green spaces experience less anxiety, greater focus, and increased cooperation and engagement with peers. Forest-based preschools across Europe share the benefits of outdoor play with younger children, and in Japan the restorative practice of ‘forest-bathing’ is gaining momentum among adults.
“We are incredibly lucky here in the Hudson River Valley to live in a place with so many opportunities to explore our connection with the land and it is an absolutely joy to help people discover deep connections to places right in their own backyard.” Stone says. Since 2016, the Rewilding School has offered a variety of local outdoor programs for children and adults, including the popular Family Forest Weekends where parents and preschoolers can learn ancestral survival skills together.
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