Cedarsong’s Forest Kindergarten was recently honored to receive the Washington State Green School Leader Award 


Forest Kindergarten

Professional Development and Teacher Training

Forest Kindergartens are growing popularity in the U.S. as American parents and educators begin to understand the importance of nature immersion time for young children. Nature Immersion is defined by Erin Kenny in her book Forest Kindergartens: The Cedarsong Way as “unstructured free time in nature resulting in an intimate, deep and personal connection to the natural world”. Europeans are more familiar with this early childhood education model and there are hundreds of waldkindergartens, rain or shine schools and forest kindergartens on that continent.

With over two decades of experience developing and running nature immersion programs for children of all ages, Erin Kenny has become an internationally recognized expert for her development of The Cedarsong Way® Forest Kindergarten Nature Pedagogy a specific method of teaching science that is distinguished by use of an outdoor classroom, child-driven flow learning, child-inspired emergent curriculum and an inquiry-based teaching style.  The Cedarsong Way® is a compassion scaffolded Nature Pedagogy which promotes mindfulness, respect, kindness, emotional intelligence,  social connection, teamwork, cooperation and self-empowerment. Through authentic nature immersion and gentle coaching by their teacher’s mentorship and guidance, The Cedarsong Way® stimulates children’s inherent love for and feelings of stewardship towards nature; provides children with an understanding of the self-soothing aspect of nature; and, through the unstructured flow learning, encourages children’s natural love of science resulting in a deeper understanding and superior retention of natural science principles. The Cedarsong Way® can be applied to any existing educational program and works well with any age group.
Erin has attended study conferences in Germany, the Netherlands, S. Korea, Scotland, Australia and Iceland to further her understanding about the Forest Kindergarten philosophy which includes elements drawn from Frederich Froebel, Rudolf Steiner, Maria Montessori and the Reggio Emilia program. Erin also speaks at conferences in North America, Australia, Europe and Asia to inspire and empower others. She authored the seminal book “Forest Kindergartens: The Cedarsong Way” and recently released her new book “Nature Notes Journal: Documenting Your Emergent Curriculum”, co-written with Robin Rogers. Erin also contributed a chapter to David Sobel’s book “Nature Preschools and Forest Kindergartens”.
 Erin’s expertise led her to establish the first U.S. Forest Kindergarten Teacher Training and Certification Program in North America in 2010 and she has since personally trained over 300 teachers from across this continent and beyond. Teachers have come from as far away as South Korea, Australia, Peru, China, Turkey, England and Canada to participate in The Cedarsong Way Forest Kindergarten Teacher Training program. Cedarsong Nature School is still currently one of the very few schools in the U.S. offering Forest Kindergarten Teacher Training and Certification.
The Cedarsong Way’s  basic philosophy is that children need to spend a large portion of their day in free play outdoors to get the natural stimulation and hands-on learning experiences they require to thrive. Being outdoors encourages imaginative play, creativity, hand-eye coordination, balance, physical strength, sensory integration and mental clarity. In addition to increased problem-solving and critical thinking skills, it leads to more cooperation and teamwork while raising children’s environmental awareness and developing feelings of stewarship. Cedarsong Nature School’s mission is to educate others about the importance of authentic nature immersion time to a child’s overall well-being and to be a model for the successful application of this approach to early childhood education.

The Cedarsong Way Forest Kindergarten Teacher Training described below does not have any prerequisites nor do you have to be a certified teacher to take our course. Participants are parents and/or educators of all kinds, including those from public and private schools. Space is limited to a maximum of six trainees at each training session to minimize the impact on our children and ensure the quality of your training. Private teacher training session dates for groups of 6-8 can be arranged. Background checks are REQUIRED.

2018 FOREST KINDERGARTEN 5 day Residential TEACHER TRAINING schedule and description:

 WINTER/SPRING 2018: Jan. 14-17*; March 18-22; April 22-26; May 6-10; June 3-7

SUMMER 2018: July 8-12; July 15-19; July 29-Aug. 2; Aug. 12-16; Aug. 19-23

*This session is full, **This session has one spot left

The Cedarsong Way Forest Kindergarten 5 Day Residential Teacher Training Program:

The Cedarsong Way Residential Teacher Training Program is designed to prepare you to start your own Forest Kindergarten program or learn how to apply the foundational principles of the forest kindergarten model to any pre-existing program. You will learn in detail about the distinguishing features of  The Cedarsong Way Forest Kindergarten model, including commitment to 100% nature immersion, authentic free play, child-led flow learning, child-inspired emergent curriculum, inquiry-based teaching style and documentation of the learning. You will also learn how to make your outdoor program a success by understanding the most essential elements such as appropriate clothing, building the parent community and risk and hazards management. This detailed training consists of a total of 25 hours of training over the course of five consecutive days. In the school  year training sessions, you will observe the award-winning Cedarsong Forest Kindergarten and visit the place-based Vashon Green School, a mostly outdoor early learning program for 6-9 year olds. In the summer training sessions, you will observe the award-winning Camp Terra®, The Cedarsong Way forest kindergarten summer camp for 4-8 year olds. All training sessions provide an opportunity to meet with the Cedarsong teachers and also have personal discussion and question and answer time with Cedarsong co-founder, Director and The Cedarsong Way Program Designer Erin Kenny. Additionally you can look forward to discussion and workshop time regarding risk and hazards management, working with kids diagnosed with SPD, autism or ADHD and what makes for a Natural Teacher. You will participate in outdoor experiential workshops in nature immersion, inquiry-based teaching style and get practice and guidance in capturing and documenting the learning. All of the questions you bring will be answered.

At the training you will receive  the Cedarsong Teacher Training Packet which includes The Cedarsong Way Teaching and Program Manual (54 pages), Erin Kenny’s book “Forest Kindergartens: The Cedarsong Way”, Erin Kenny and Robin Rogers’  book “Nature Notes Journal: Documenting Your Emergent Curriculum” and a copy of the hour-long Cedarsong documentary DVD.  After completion of the Teacher Training, you will receive a Certificate verifying that you have completed the 25 hour course. This training course is eligible for 18.5 clock hours from the Washington Continuing Education Credit authority. Cost: $1400.

Transportation, lodging and food are not included, although we can assist you with information about finding affordable lodging during your stay on Vashon Island, WA. To enroll in the Cedarsong Forest Kindergarten Teacher Training, email our office for a registration packet.

“I’ve struggled to find the right words to tell you how grateful and appreciative I am to have met you and experience the Cedarsong Way. Transformative is an understatement. On a personal note, I recently narrowly escaped a very abusive relationship, and as a result, was diagnosed with PTSD just days before flying out for training. I just felt like sharing this because you gave me so much HOPE. I know the healing power of nature, and your forest was one of the most magical ones I have ever been in. It was restorative on many levels, and you are one of the most wonderful women I have ever met. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. ” – Kendall
“At our recent summer camp, I tried out a lot of Cedarsong philosophy, including using very minimal materials all week, always giving the children a choice about going on the adventure or staying in play; and encouraging children to help each other rather than going straight to a teacher. I was also much more rule oriented than I have been in the past. One of the great take-aways from you is that ‘unstructured’ does not mean the absence of rules–in fact it calls for a greater understanding of what the rules and boundaries are, and then the unstructured play happens within that. Seeing you operate from such a firm and clear philosophy was very inspriring, and exactly what I needed. Thank you so much for the dedication and energy you gave us during the training.” – Liz Meeks
“This was the most life changing thing I have ever done.  I will never be able to thank you for all you have given my life.  I have taken all your advice both personally and from your book and training packet.  Everyday someone or something new appears and I find more information and support while I prepare to start our small pilot program this spring. I never dreamed things would flourish so quickly upon my return from Cedarsong.  I am so happy I attended the Cedarsong Forest Kindergarten Teacher Training and even happier to have met and learned from you.” – Nancy Schutts 
“The thought that has been running through my mind since I left Cedarsong is how magical the experience was. You and your school have a truly special spirit that I feel has changed my life and way of teaching, even in the limited time I was there. I feel that what I gained from your mentorship was exactly what I needed and was searching for as an educator.” – Tina Taylor Rain
“Erin, I was already inspired before coming to the training, but OMG, now I just can’t wait to get our Forest Kindergarten up and running!  Watching videos and reading books are great, but nothing can compare to a firsthand experience and that is what you have provided with this training.  I am very, very grateful for the time I spent at Cedarsong and for your wise counsel and the meaningful insights you have gained teaching children in the forest”. -Jean Lomino, Ph.D.
“I am oozing with gratitude and excitement that I was able to spend time with you and to learn more about your program.  It is wonderful to spend time with colleagues that have the same passion for nature education.  I have gained a wealth of knowledge that I will be implementing in my program and insight as to how to train and educate my employees.” – Arletta Brown
“Erin, I just wanted to let you know (and I didn’t fully realize this until I got back to my family and reality)…you (and the forest) changed my life last week. I came out of the forest a different parent and teacher. The words “thank you” feel like the understatement of the century.” -Theresa Grace
“My onsite training was truly inspiring and is serving to be a launching point for moving forward professionally within the realm of nature/play education. More specifically, my experience at Cedarsong has deepened my commitment to serve our collective community via allocating time, energies and actions into feeding a grass roots movement broadcasting the power and empowerment found within a Forest Kindergarten model.” – Cara Liberatore
“I appreciate your commitment to bringing the Forest Kindergarten spirit to North America and I’m looking forward to collaborating with you in this work.” – David Sobel, Senior Faculty, Education Department, Antioch University New England 
“The word ‘Freedom’ resonated with me when I visited Cedarsong” – Claire Warden, Mindstretchers, Global Education Consultant

A snapshot of the professionals who have  completed Cedarsong’s Forest Kindergarten Residential Teacher Training program:

*Dr Kumara Ward, Early Childhood Curriculum and Pedagogy, School of Education, University Of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia

*Jiyoun Shin, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Early Childhood Education, Sahm Yook University, Seoul, Republic of Korea

*Jan White, Global Education Consultant and author, Manchester, England

*Caroline Boxmeyer, Ph.D., Research Psychologist, Center for the Prevention of Youth Behavior Problems, University of Alabama

*Jean Lomino, Ph.D., Director, The Wauhatchie School, Chattanooga, TN

*Sarah Heller, co-Director, Fiddleheads Nature Preschool, Seattle, WA