CHARLIE AT DANISH FOREST SCHOOL
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!
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!