Forest Kindergartens, or Waldkindgergarten (literally Forest – child – garden), are time tested and have been successful in Europe for decades in countries like Germany, Switzerland, Demark and the UK. There it is well understood as part of the national education system that play-based education in nature is an excellent foundation for academic achievement later on.
Though this method of education is thriving in many parts of the world it is just starting to come to the United States. Cedarsong Nature School on Vashon Island was one of the first forest schools to open in the United States and now there are many more all around the country. California has several all outdoor preschools in the Bay area and Seattle is home to Fiddelheads and Tiny Trees.
Philosophically, Forest Schools are compatible with the educational methodologies of Fredric Froebel, Rudolf Steiner, Maria Montessori, and Loris Malaguzzi (Reggio Emilia) as well as the environmental education movement.