The history of Forest Kindergarten in the UK

Forest Kindergarten plays a big part in what we do at Learning through Landscapes — but what is it?

The Learning through Landscapes ‘Forest Kindergarten’ qualification is a Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) course, developed in 2009 in partnership with Forestry Scotland. The course development saw early years educators leading weekly sessions in local woodland or other greenspace, using a child-centred approach.

The term ‘Forest Kindergarten’ was chosen to reflect the original funding source from Scottish Forestry. In truth, the sessions take place in any natural space that early years settings have access to outside the nursery’s own garden space.

In 2011, Juliet Robertson and Karen Boyd developed the programme further and created the training course which we now use. The course followed a sustainable and rights-based approach, informed by many years of work with early years settings across Europe.

This programme went forward to become an SQA Workplace Award — the course we now run at Learning through Landscapes.

Young children engaging in forest bathing during a Forest Kindergarten session.

The Forest Kindergarten model remains strong in its ethos, flexible in its delivery and widely suited to early years settings. The course covers three main areas:

  • Place – finding and appraising a site to use, including a risk benefit approach, and involving children in developing a caring and considerate model of use.
  • People – having adults, both skilled staff and parent volunteers, who actively support children’s right to play in nature on a regular basis, and understand the benefits that it brings.
  • Pedagogy – Being in nature, in all seasons, on a routine basis as a source of exploration, inspiration and imagination. This child-centred approach is key to the pedagogy and staff approach.

At Learning through Landscapes, we are now rolling out Forest Kindergarten across the UK and beyond. The qualification is valid across all UK and European Vocational Qualification systems, with two main routes to gaining it – joining an open course or hosting your own as a local authority or chain of early years settings.



Book your place on a Forest Kindergarten course

If you would like to host a Forest Kindergarten course for up to 20 people, please get in touch with our Commercial Development Manager, Dan Harvey. Alternatively, book your place on an upcoming course or visit our Forest Kindergarten page to find out more about the qualification.

For more information, read about how Forest Kindergarten compares to Forest School, or explore feedback from our courses.

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