Forest School Movement
The forest school movement focuses on outdoor play and environmental stewardship through nature immersion. The forest school movement was founded in Scandinavia, and one of the first forest schools in the United States was Cedarsong Nature School in Washington State. Time is spent outdoors, no matter the weather, with the mantra being “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing” (or being ill-prepared). The children learn resiliency and appreciation for all seasons by spending time outside in all weather, including colder temperatures and precipitation.
One of the main pillars of the forest school philosophy is that the learning is child-led, with no predetermined curriculum. The children use their sense of wonder, imagination, and group cooperation to guide lessons the teachers provide. Through this, the children develop a deeper sense of ownership over the place they play in and the topics they learn about.
The benefits of nature-immersed learning are cognitive, social, and physical. With no set curriculum, the children develop creative and imaginative skills. Conflict resolution is often left to the children, with educators only stepping with guidance when needed. Children work together to solve problems and develop strategies in their play, showing cooperation. Successes improve self-esteem and self-motivation. Climbing, balancing, building, and hiking all engage and strengthen motor skills. Risk is a big part of being in nature, and children learn to identify and manage risk through forest schooling. Being outside develops a stronger immune system and the active lifestyle keeps children healthier.
With the growth of technology, we are seeing children spend more and more time inside in front of screens. Richard Louv’s book, “Last Child in the Woods,” provides mounting research of the ill-effects of children not spending enough time in nature – i.e. Nature-Deficit Disorder. Forest schooling provides early interactions with nature that will foster connection to and develop compassion for nature that is likely to last a lifetime. The forest school philosophy believes that providing these opportunities for children in their younger formative years will help build a future population of resilient, self-thinking, healthy, and empathetic environmental stewards.
The Cedarsong Way
Asheville Farmstead School is proud to be one of four internationally accredited Cedarsong® Schools. Cedarsong Way is an award-winning leader in the American Forest Kindergarten movement and has received international accolades for its groundbreaking work.
Schools that are Accredited Cedarsong Schools have proven to be operating at the same high level of excellence as the original Cedarsong Nature School. A Cedarsong Accreditation is your assurance of the best quality outdoor education program.
The Cedarsong Way is a specific method of teaching forest schools that is distinguished by:
-use of an outdoor classroom
-unstructured flow learning
-child-led emergent curriculum (Nature Notes)
-inquiry-based teaching style
The Cedarsong Way is a compassion-based nature pedagogy that promotes kindness, respect, emotional intelligence, mindfulness, social connection, teamwork, cooperation and self-empowerment. The Cedarsong Way stimulates children’s inherent love for and feelings of stewardship towards nature; it provides children with an understanding of the self-soothing aspect of nature; and, through the unstructured flow learning, it encourages children’s natural love of science, resulting in a deeper understanding and superior retention of natural science principles.
Love and Logic
Love and Logic is a research-backed, time-tested behavior management philosophy. Although it began as a parenting method, it has since been expanded for use in a school setting. Unlike other programs, it is not a step-by-step “system”, but rather a mindset held by all teachers and backed by a few simple techniques.
The Five Guiding Principles of Love and Logic are: 1) Mutual dignity and respect. 2) Sincere empathy. 3) Shared thinking. 4) Shared control within limits. 5) Healthy relationships.
In our Love and Logic school, there are only two rules:
Rule #1: You are free to do whatever you like, as long as it doesn’t cause a problem for anyone else.
Rule #2: If you cause a problem, you are responsible for fixing it, with or without help from a teacher.
Using these simple rules helps our students learn that good behavior is not about memorizing and adhering to a (sometimes seemingly arbitrary) list of Do’s and Don’ts, but rather about noticing how your actions affect others and taking responsibility for your choices.
When problems do arise, our response begins with a healthy dose of empathy. We take the time to listen to the student and to understand their perspective on the issue. This builds trust and helps the student feel more calm and safe. From this place of trust and respect we are able to guide the student through solving the problem by co-creating logical and natural consequences.
We believe that all students have the desire and ability to be kind to and not create problems for themselves and others. By using Love and Logic techniques, we help give students the tools to do so on their own, without needing an adult to monitor their behavior and solve their problems. In this way, we empower students to cultivate kindness, empathy, integrity, and to be truly stellar human beings.