School administrator Steinen Hurtado delved into the vibrant world of forest kindergartens last month when she completed a 20-hour teacher training program at Cedarsong Nature School on Vashon Island in Washington State. Founded by Erin Kenny in 2006, Cedarsong was the first forest kindergarten established in the United States drawing from the European tradition. It is an entirely outdoor preschool where three- to five-year-olds romp in temperate rainforest through all four seasons no matter what the weather. In the teacher training, Erin provides practical advice on how to run a successful nature immersion program addressing topics such as appropriate clothing choices, communication with parents, and risk management. Trainees spend 15 hours observing Cedarsong's three teachers as they engage the children with their unique style of interest-led flow learning, emergent curriculum, open-ended questioning, and authentic play.
Steinen returned to Eastern Woodland Learning with copious notes and excited about the many possibilities for the upcoming school year.