Book Review:Nature Preschools and Forest Kindergartens

As I mentioned in a post a couple of weeks ago, I love to research things. I recently finished going through a seriously awesome book and I wanted to share it with you.

If you follow me on Instagram or you saw my post “What’s More Important“, you’ll have seen me pull a few great quotes from this book, Nature Preschools and Forest Kindergartens: The Handbook for Outdoor Learning. I was entirely enamored with the whole thing, but let me give you a few key points.

It’s grounded in fantastic philosophy. This book comes from two directions – environmental education and early childhood education. Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia philosophies within the context of the forest school and nature preschool are discussed in detail. The authors paint a very clear picture of where the heart of the forest kindergarten and nature preschool lies and why it is beneficial, perhaps even crucial, for the young developing mind.

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It’s not just for folks who want to start a nature preschool or forest kindergarten. While the target audience for this book is primarily for educators interested in starting a program like the ones described in the book, nearly all of the information presented could be easily translated into homeschool or home-based daycare curriculum. More than just simply listing great ideas, which you can find online easily enough, it gives you the developmental science and pedagogy (the whys, essentially) behind each activity or unit of study.

It’s a great mixture of narrative, theory, and practical tips. I’ll be upfront – this is a textbook. But this isn’t your stodgy, boring textbook. First of all, it just looks lovely. That alone had me sold, but there’s more. There are well-written stories, beautiful descriptions and explanations, and detailed tips. It’s an easy and interesting read.

A couple of the authors have roots in Maine! This may only be important to me, the good ole New England girl that I am, but it was thrilling to read this book and hear about a forest school in Maine and other forest and nature-based schools in New England. On top of that one of the authors is a professor at my alma mater, the University of Maine at Farmington. So cool!

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So, while I love, love, love this book, there are a couple of things I want to point out:

One – potentially irrelevant information in the last couple of chapters. If you’re not actually considering opening a forest kindergarten or nature preschool, the last couple of chapters are fairly irrelevant. They deal with the nitty gritty of choosing a location, budgeting for the business side of things, and worrying about liability. At the moment, I don’t plan to open a forest school (emphasis on “at the moment”…), so that information wasn’t something that pulled me. That said, I’ve had my fair share of exposure textbooks on budgeting and management due to my master’s program, and this information here appears solid, so if you are planning on opening up a school, these last couple of chapters would be really helpful.

Two – price point. Like I said, this book is essential a textbook. Granted, it’s not $200, but it is $30, which is a lot for a book. I did look for it used, and, at the time, couldn’t find anything that was so much cheaper that after shipping made a big difference (and the Kindle price is only a couple dollars cheaper). However, if you’re really into this topic, like a book you can go back to over and over, and are just generally a book nut (I fit all three of these categories), then dude, drop the thirty bucks. Another option, of course, is the local library. While the topic is somewhat obscure and the book is fairly new, you still may be able to track it down, especially if your library does inter-library loans. I would absolutely be worth extra leg work.

If you’re looking for a great information about the ins and outs of forest kindergartens and nature preschools and how you might frame it within your own home, then you need this book.

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