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New Outdoor Forest Preschool Opens in Croton

New Outdoor Forest Preschool Opens in Croton

This fall, a new preschool is set to launch in Croton with the forest as its classroom

The Rewilding School announces the opening of its outdoor-based Forest Preschool program for the 2018 2019 school year for children ages 3 1/2 to 5. Based in Croton’s Brinton Brook Sanctuary, the Rewilding Forest Preschool will offer half-day morning and afternoon sessions starting this fall in an all-outdoor setting that includes meadows, streams, deep woods and a pond.

“Kids need to splash in puddles, crawl through bushes, pick up sticks, listen to birds, catch bugs, play in the snow, and dig for worms,” says the school’s founder Eric Stone. An experienced naturalist and primitive skills educator, Stone is also a certified wilderness skills instructor, wilderness first responder, and licensed New York State guide, with over a decade of professional guiding experience.

Through immersion in the natural world, Forest Preschool students discover their own connections to the land and each other. Students hear stories about wild plants and animals before acting out various aspects of forest life through games and imaginative play. Branches become “beaks” that the children use to find bird food, and forest debris becomes “nests” for forest creatures.

Participants can expect to help build fires, watch birds, forage for berries, play in snow, and shoot bows and arrows. They can also expect to come home with the occasional scrape or insect bite. “The outdoors can be a scary and unpredictable place,” Stone says, adding that “it is these qualities that make it a perfect environment for young kids to learn about risk and reward.”

Indeed, recent studies have shown the benefits of nature-based play for all ages. School-age children with access to green spaces experience less anxiety, greater focus, and increased cooperation and engagement with peers. Forest-based preschools across Europe share the benefits of outdoor play with younger children, and in Japan the restorative practice of ‘forest-bathing’ is gaining momentum among adults.

“We are incredibly lucky here in the Hudson River Valley to live in a place with so many opportunities to explore our connection with the land and it is an absolutely joy to help people discover deep connections to places right in their own backyard.” says Stone. Since 2016, the Rewilding School has offered a variety of local outdoor programs for children and adults, including the popular Family Forest Weekends where parents and preschoolers can learn ancestral survival skills together.

The Rewilding School
25 Cedar St

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