More and more out-of-classroom out-of-school education is on the rise during the epidemic. Perhaps your school is playing with the idea of a forest kindergarten or an outdoor learning space. Here are some ideas for where to start.
As assistant director of a forest school program in Boulder, Colorado, I would like to hire teachers first, nature lovers second. Over the years, I have found that teachers can always learn more about nature, but you cannot necessarily teach outside. This is where such learning and teaching really begins.
Fortunately, if you have hard learning skills, the path to getting an outdoor education job is quite easy.
Training for an outdoor education job
The United States does not have any formal training to get an outdoor education job, but many schools offer training. Take a look at the options offered below and consider your and your school’s needs before investing The best training combines practical advice as well as interactive activities such as working with firefighting and equipment.
Personal training for outdoor educators
The Rhythm of Learning in Nature Conference – This week-long conference in Ontario covers many aspects of working in nature-based schools, such as safe risk taking, equipment and fire, land recognition, documentation, and more. You also leave with a great network of outdoor educators and resources. Although this is not a specific certified training, I recommend this conference.
Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools (Irafans) – This course is offered both online and in person (East Coast) and provides a nature-based teacher certificate. In the course, you will learn about risk management, developmentally appropriate practices, licensing considerations and much more.
Wilderness Awareness School – The Wilderness Awareness School in Duval, Washington, offers forest-based classes for learning new skills, such as tracking for adults, herbal medicine and the basics of bushcraft. They provide more intensive training such as nature trainer training (a school year course is done individually as a teacher education program) as well as a Kamana independent study, which is a The goal of the experiential four-level home study course is to guide students to become skilled and knowledgeable naturalists.
Online training for outdoor educators
Cedarsong Online Training – Located in Wasson, Washington, Cedarsong is one of the first forest school programs in the United States. Online training includes a three-month hybrid course that includes group zoom calls, individual mentoring meetings and assignments. There is also an introductory, self-guided foundation course.
University of Antioch – One of the first of its kind, the University of Antioch offers a 13-month certificate in nature-based early childhood education. Program included Regio Emilia is based on the philosophy of policy development, business planning, curriculum documentation materials, grant proposals, and parental newsletters. Courses include nature-based early childhood curriculum, working with family and community, and more.
Forest School Teacher’s Institute – These tutorials are based entirely on Zoom and are ideal for anyone who wants to start their own nature-based school. “The trainings were in-depth and provided a lot of resources that I can continue to use throughout my career,” said Jessica Gorush, executive director. Wonderland Nature School Gunison, in Colorado, who has taken on roles, teacher training and director training.
Forest Scholed Online Learning – Recommendations Ryan Plymouth, an outdoor educator in Denver and its founder Nature Cooperative School ButterfliesOnline training through Forest Schooled includes opportunities to join single online webinars such as space-based and inclusive storytelling as well as professional learning communities that focus on growing the business of your nature.
Books and resources for outdoor educators
Nature-Based Preschool Professional Practice Guidebook By NAAEE – I think this guidebook from the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) is the best place to start with an outside program or outside education. In fact, I and my staff re-read it every year. It’s a quick and easy reading that seamlessly covers all the major aspects of a nature-based program. See introduction Here.
Early Childhood Investigation Webinar – This database is a great resource for teaching everything and has lots of free webinars for nature-based learning and outdoor play. All webinars are free and feature speakers. View recordings of past webinars, including options “Introduce nature into your program using a guide to nature kinship“”A Guide to Nature-Based Pedagogy for Early Childhood Programs“And for managers,”Assist teachers in nature-based programs”
Forest Kindergarten: Cedarsong Way – Written by Erin Kenny, the book details her journey and philosophy with nature’s preschool, as well as the methodology and daily management of immersive nature experiences for young students. Overall, this book is a wonderful introduction Why Take the kids out.
Natural Start Alliance – A project of NAAEE, Natural Start Alliance Dedicated to enriching the young mind outdoors. The site has member spotlights, conference information, webinar training, and more.
Any book by David Sobel – Author and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Education At the University of Antioch, Sobel is praised for being responsible for developing the philosophy of space-based learning. From his book range Philosophical design principles Per Highlights and stories From schools across the country, as well Textbook-like options Which dives into the everyday aspects of teaching outside. Other notable authors included Diane Cashin, All night, Claire Warden, Jane WarrollAnd John Cree and Marina Robb.
Starting with outdoor education
A new role in a completely diving or nature-based school in an outdoor classroom can be daunting. What if you don’t actually like it? Fortunately, there are several ways to muddy your toes and test for legitimate water.
Most of the summer camps that are run in the summer mostly take place outside. Being a counselor is a quick way to see how it feels to study outside all day. Check out adventure camps like farm camps, garden camps, nature camps, and mountain biking and hiking.
Find a local nature center and search for help with volunteers, shades, or any class they offer.
In your own school
If there is a natural area near your school, talk to the administrator about taking students there for weekly lessons. From there, extend that time out to include snacks or long activities. If it’s good, aim for a Forest School Day once a month. It will give you a taste of teaching outside, and you will find out how acceptable all parties are – children, their parents and administrators.
Ready to get an outdoor education job? There are lots of benefits for students, and you may find that you never want to teach again!