Tennessee’s first Forest Kindergarten, Wauhatchie School, begins its second year with a satellite forest preschool site located on Ivy Academy’s campus. The partnership between the two schools will provide opportunities for Ivy students to observe forest preschool students through the newly established Teaching as a Profession major.
TAP, a program housed within the TN State Parks Environmental Institute at Ivy Academy, will rely on Wauhatchie’s programming for observation, educational philosophies, pedagogical models, and offer internship opportunities to shadow Wauhatchie teachers.
High school students enrolled in the TAP program will have opportunities to learn from forest school teachers interacting with their young students at their forest school site and graduate prepared to enter the field trained in one of education’s formats: outdoor learning, said officials. Some parents are turning toward programming based on principles of outdoor and environmental education, like those that are the heart of Wauhatchie School and Ivy Academy.
Forest Kindergarten has its roots in the work of Friedrich Frobel, a German educator, who opened the world’s first outdoor “kindergartens” (German for “children’s gardens”) more than 150 years ago. He believed young children should spend their time playing in nature and away from so much emphasis on learning letters and numbers. Today, around the globe, thousands of children attend Forest Schools and Forest Kindergartens where they spend their entire class time outdoors year-round.
Officials said Wauhatchie’s Forest Preschool provides complete immersion in nature, helping to build a child’s sense of place in the world. Learning is play-based, allowing children to develop their skills and habits over time, at their own pace. They learn naturally to be self-motivated, cooperative, respectful, grateful, and aware of their impact on Planet Earth. Daily lessons, in all weather conditions, flow organically from the natural rhythms of the seasons and from the children’s daily discoveries. Many spontaneous, teachable moments occur with the animals, insects, birds, landforms, and plants the children encounter.
"Wauhatchie School is honored to partner with Ivy Academy to provide forest preschool programming for the North Hamilton County area; as well as, training for their environmental institute students," said Dr. Jean Lomino, Wauhatchie School director. "Forest school is a growing global movement, and we are excited to see more forest school programs in the Chattanooga area, in both public and private schools. Ivy Academy is leading the way in preparing students to enter this important career path."
There are limited spots available for Wauhatchie Forest Preschool at the Ivy Academy location. For more information about the school and its programs visit www.wauhatchie.com.