The history of Forest Kindergarten in the UK

The Learning through Landscapes ‘Forest Kindergarten’ qualification is a Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) course, developed since 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.

By 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 as LtL.

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.

If you would like to know more, see our blog post on important information about the Forest Kindergarten Qualification.

At LtL we are now rolling out Forest Kindergarten across the UK and beyond with our partners and customers. The Qualification is valid across all UK and European Vocational Qualification systems, with SCQF Level 7 Forest Kindergarten Workplace Award being equivalent to Vocational Qualifications Level 3 in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. The award equates to a European Qualifications Framework Level 5.

LtL has two main routes to gaining the qualification – joining an Open Course or hosting your own as a local authority or chain of early years settings.

If you would like your setting, group or authority to host a Forest Kindergarten for up to 20 people, please get in touch with Dan Harvey at training@ltl.org.uk.

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