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Outbound: Nature-Based Learning and Forest Kindergarten Training for Educators and Parents

Is there any greater wonder at this time of year than a child’s fascination with the changing of the seasons? Do you notice the leaves changing to yellow and red and instantly, if only momentarily, flash back to a time when you would jump into a pile of leaves just like that?  When you were younger, and perhaps not so little? Doesn’t it bring up an irrepressible glee, joy, and delight in the world around you? Perhaps you were a city kid and the changing seasons were one of the ways you experienced nature growing up?

Kids today have fewer and fewer opportunities to explore and develop their process of scientific inquiry by being outdoors in nature. Nature-Deficit Disorder is a thing, documented famously by Richard Louv, best selling author of Last Child in the Woods. As we loose our connection to nature, we loose a sense of our place in the world, as well as the beauty that surrounds us every day. As attentive parents striving to become better parents, we remember that our grandparents grew up differently, with the advantage of being outside for much more of their day than children today. So how do we improve outcomes for our children by giving them more time outside with trees, critters, and all kinds of weather?

We send them outside for forest and nature school!

Made popular by the Danes, the English then took up the idea, and forest schools are now growing throughout the world, from Canada to Japan and New Zealand. “Children who have attended a Waldkindergarten (forest kindergarten) have a much deeper understanding of the world around them, and evidence shows they are often much more confident and outgoing when they reach school”, says Ute Schulte-Ostermann, president of the German Federation of Nature and Forest Kindergarten. Research indicates that children who attend this type of program demonstrate decreased rates of sickness, better concentration, better motor function, and play more imaginatively.

Join the Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools, Saturday, October 6 for a full day of forest and nature school training. Hosted by the Aurora Waldorf School in West Falls, participants will spend much of their day outside, learning from nature educators across our region, discovering ways that nature-based learning enhances skill development. Presenters will share insights and activities based on their work in nature preschools, forest kindergartens, and other nature-based programs. Training is ideal for educators and parents working with children ages 3-7 years old. Tour a Waldorf nature-based preschool program. Professional development certification provided at the conclusion of the event.

Join educators and parents for an inspiring day of nature-based early childhood education training and outdoor fun! More information can be found at Check out and share our flyer and schedule here. Register soon!

Nature-Based Learning and Forest Kindergarten Training for Educators and Parents

Saturday, October 6, 2018

8:30 am to 4:30 pm at Aurora Waldorf School

Written by Arete


Megan Mills Hoffman, Alaskan-born and raised, arrived in Buffalo in 2003 thinking she'd stay for a few months, much like her other brief sojourns in Missoula, Montana; Oxford, Mississippi; Portland, Oregon; and Albany, New York. Then she discovered Wegman's cheese aisle and Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin Martin House, the first of which reminded her of her mother's experience living outside Manchester, England and the second of her father's experience in construction in Alaska. While discovering Buffalo's others treasures, she worked with Buffalo Rising as it first expanded online, the Burchfield Penney Art Center's New Museum Project, Buffalo State College, Western New York Land Conservancy, Young Audiences, and The Gow School. She has served on the boards of the Allentown Association, Mandala School, Western New York Environmental Alliance, and Field and Fork Network. With a B.S. in Sociology and twenty plus years of experience working in community development and grassroots organizations, she has embraced, developed, launched, and established, to varying degrees of success, a variety of local social movements, all directed at changing the way we think about our education and learning. She lives in a small town south of Buffalo, much like the one she grew up in, with her Buffalo-born husband, daughter, and Bernese Mountain dog.

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