This has been the hardest blog to write. But after much thought, my husband and I have decided to pull our son out of his Danish forest school.
The decision was really made for us – after three senior members of staff decided to quit. We didn’t find this out from the management, but through the parent grapevine. At the same time another ‘pedagogue’ (teacher) who has also been a great support to us went off sick – the rumour was with stress.
For most of December, parents were being asked to accompany children out to the forest, just to ensure there were enough adults to keep it operating. What became hardest for us was that Charlie just didn’t want to go anymore. Every day it became a battle to get him out the door.
The parents have formed an action group to try to force the management, run by Copenhagen municipality, to change tack. But we just didn’t feel we had time to wait.
I’ve since learnt that the problems started two years ago when the ‘kommune’ (council) decided to force børnehave (kindergartens) into cluster groups in order to save money. In so doing, they removed independent heads and replaced them with one overall leader. In our case that leader is trying to run four kindergartens, leaving staff on the ground to sort out the ensuing mess. It’s an impossible task – as our staff have demonstrated, by voting with their feet.
Forest schools are an expensive business. But for many years, they have been a unique feature of Scandinavian education. Look at the number of UK schools now trying to copy the idea.
For the record I am still very much in favour of forest schools but I would want more structure and better senior leadership. We’re grateful for the three months we’ve had and are very sad to leave.
But from tomorrow we are joining the international schools’ system. We’ve opted for a kindergarten with a pretty large garden – the closest we thought we could get to a forest school!
You can read my previous posts about our forest school experience below:
If you Go Down to the Woods Today
Cleaning Party at the Forest School
Totally understandable but as you say, at least your son had a good experience. Would be really interested in knowing your thoughts on the International School System when Charlie settles.
Thanks Carissa. I am hoping the international kindergarten will suit him. I think he needs more structure and I hope this pre-school will provide it – but in a fun and relaxed way! I am looking forward to getting some of his art work – we have missed it!
Best wishes (and Happy New Year),
P.s. Don’t give up on learning Danish!
Such a tough decision, but it sounds like you have made the right one. even without the politics, if Charlie wasn’t enjoying it anymore, then that’s the answer, isn’t it?! I am sure he will thrive at the next place, and is also learning a lot just from being in a different country and culture. I have such happy memories of the 3 years that we lived in Germany, between the ages of 4 and 7 years old. Though I did go to an international/military school. But my memories aren’t of lessons or school specifically, but adventures in different landscapes, German friends, amazing trips around the country with my parents, different foods, different traditions and rituals, hot summers on the water and snowy christmases sledging in the woods. I reckon this type of thing will be Charlie’s abiding happy memories too…. whichever school he goes to. xxx
Thanks Gillian. That’s very encouraging to hear! I was in Germany until I was 4 but have only vague memories. We will see how Charlie’s first few days go – I am praying they will go well!! X