If you go down to the woods today…


The biggest decision we’ve made so far in Denmark has been where to send our son to kindergarten. Charlie is three – energetic, bright and extremely sociable. But the move away from friends and family has somewhat thrown him. He misses his routine and his great nursery in South London. For my husband and particularly me, it’s been an intense summer. Not having our usual network around us has been a struggle!

stumpswing with the girls

After much deliberation, we decided to hold off sending Charlie to one of the (expensive) international kindergartens and instead head for a Danish one. They have a good reputation and for around £400 a month for care that can begin at 7am and end at 5pm, five days a week, it’s incredible value for money.

Last week Charlie started at his forest school. As the title suggests, he spends most of his day outside in the woods, whatever the weather.

Children don’t start school here in Denmark until they’re six years old. That means until then, there’s no official academic timetable – just play and fun. So rather than learning his numbers, letters and writing skills, Charlie’s life is centred on the great outdoors. He will discover the importance of nature, how to grow vegetables and of course how to climb trees.

But the key to any forest school is how it equips children for life. Staff try to encourage independence, motivation, self-confidence, social and communication skills as well as helping them learn how to get along with other people – yes even with a slightly confused three year old who doesn’t speak their language. Despite the freedom, this is not Lord of the Flies – there is order in every area of life in the forest.

I’ve been accompanying Charlie to his forest school and spending the day with him as he gets used to a new system, new children, new staff and a new language. It’s a tough call for any three year old, but even harder for a child who doesn’t speak the lingo.

So I’m not going to pretend it’s going to be easy for Charlie. He’s out of his comfort zone (as am I) and the next few months will be hard for us all. But so far I have been impressed with this system and in particular the caring, intelligent staff. After all, we’ve chosen a forest school because we love the ethos behind it. I hope one day Charlie will thank us for making this decision!

hammockup a tree

  1. This is so lovely Alex, really good to see you are doing well. Sounds like a great school, I’m sure Charlie will learn the lingo in no time! X

  2. Amazing. This sounds like the kind of place that will help Charlie acquire that most useful and enjoyable of skills: learning how to learn. Their focus on independence and motivation and social relationships is going to put him in very good stead to go out into the world and learn for himself and, best of all, to love that learning. Interesting science pointing to the importance of ability to socialise as a better indicator of a successful and happy life than say intelligence and exam results (eg: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Social_Animal_(David_Brooks_book) though it needs to be taken with a slight pinch of salt). Just need to make sure Charlie doesn’t beat someone up with all his sticks. And sounds like the parents might learn some useful things about parenting from this place as well.

    • Thanks Phil! I did call the kindergarten this morning to see how Charlie was doing without me. I was told: “He’s just chasing someone with a gun. But don’t worry it’s only a small gun…” Actually it was Lego and just a game.

  3. What a refreshing attitude to schooling from the Danes. Perfect for a little boy obsessed with sticks! I hope you’re starting to settle in and find your feet in your new home. I’m sure Charlie will be introducing you to his new Danish friends in Danish before you know it. Lovely to see what you are all up to, look forward to hearing more. X

  4. It looks and sounds great. Obviously it will take both Alex and Charlie time to adjust but what an opportunity. I was amazed to read that some children in the UK are frightened of the weather and being outside and getting wet and do not recognise vegetables in their natural state! We’ll follow their progress with interest. good luck – Annabel

  5. Alex and Nick

    Great photos and certainly seems like another world compared to the big smoke here. I bet Charlie loves it! He looks so happy. As for £400 a month!!! What are we doing in this country… We have got is so wrong. Sarah xxx

  6. Alex what can I say but truly wonderful. Loved the video and the blog.. Moving house is an event in itself ,but to another country is a real test. If anyone is going to make a go of it ,I know it will be both you and Nick. Look forward to the next blog and video. Much love Mark x

  7. A time of new experiences for you all. I imagine your challenges are pretty similar to Charlie’s. new surroundings, language, new friends etc. but just don’t start playing with guns!! Wish I didn’t have to work and could spend the day in the Forrest!! Great blog beck x

  8. Lovely to hear about how you are doing, and the forest school sounds a great choice. If Charlie is bright (and I am positive he is!) he can catch up on the “learning by rote” stuff we do in UK schools, times tables etc…. but no-one here learns life skills/outdoorsy stuff or enjoying nature etc. What a fantastic experience he will get. x

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