This clip about the German Forest Kindergartens showed up in my Facebook feed. (Thanks, Liz.)
It caught my attention because Janet and her kids visited one (Waldspielgruppe) and had a blast.
("What do you mean, 'had a blast'?" asked five-year-old Joseph. He speaks three languages, but misses the occasional idiom. He's also very literal, and was probably puzzling about pyrotechnics. I suggested that it means "an explosion of fun.")
Perhaps the most educational part of their visit was the revelation of do-it-yourself possibilities.
- Spielgruppe, whether this or one of the differently-focussed options available, is expensive, costly in both time and money. You could buy a lot of cool equipment for your home and still save money.
- Anyone can buy the special rain gear that allows a child to emerge clean and dry from a romp in the mud—once you know it exists and where to find it. ("There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.")
- The forests are open to the public, nearby, and free.
Who needs Spielgruppe? Who needs kindergarten?
Since then Janet has taken the gang, outfitted in their new rain gear, for their own fun in the forest. Once they even met up with the preschool group and they all had fun together.
Maybe the best advantage a formal organization gives you is that, after paying all that money, you work to find time for your child to participate. But if you have the self-discipline to make it happen, don't outsource the fun!