PARKERSBURG, W. Va. (WTAP) - Forest kindergarten and forest school education is a European concept that has been in the United States since 2008.
The idea of forest education is children learn outdoors and learn about nature for most of their school day, regardless of the weather. Educators say,students are getting more life lessons and life skills. Students do still learn in the classroom.
Parkersburg academy began teaching forest education this school year and says that it has been very successful for students.
"The exciting thing is that we've had so much tangible growth that we've been able to see in the kids," said Monica Zill, Parkersburg Academy, principal. Things like kids that have sensory issues are letting go of it because nature is all about being able to use your senses so that's really exciting. They have the ability to come in and focus."
Dr. Jean Lomino is the co-founder of Wauhatchie School, the first forest kindergarten in Tennessee. Dr. Lomino took a visit to Parkersburg Academy to help educate parents and the community on forest learning.
"Children have lost that connection with nature and as a result there are physical issues that children are experiencing now, health problems," said Dr. Lomino. They don't get enough exercise, they don't get enough fresh air and nature also inspires children to learn, so they experience joy of learning and they also are learning important social skills."
Parkersburg Academy currently offers forest education for kindergarten through second grade. The school teaches grades pre-kindergarten through 9th grade.