Child-led outdoor preschool launches in Montreal

Preschoolers can enjoy the outdoors and learn more about nature at Riversong Forest School

A child-led forest school is being launched in the fall to get preschoolers out to enjoy the outdoors and learn about nature.

Starting in September, the Riversong Forest School will be taking kids outside to explore nature. Forest schools, which originated in Scandinavia, encourage outdoor education in natural spaces, allowing children to discover and play in forests and nature.

The preschool uses child-led learning, meaning kids are encouraged to be themselves, and are given the space to explore, create or wonder about things without being directed by adults.

“A really great summary of a forest school would be ‘free play outdoors’,” says Riversong Forest School founder Megan Millward. “There are adults there for the sake of safety, but otherwise they step back and let kids take the lead.”

While parents must be present during each session, the adults are there to help, not to teach. “When something sparks a child’s interest, like an insect on a leaf or a piece of bark that has fallen off a tree, the adults will share the child’s curiosity and questions.”

Millward says she created the preschool because of her love for nature and the freedom it gives kids to explore their curiosity.

Classes will take place in any weather: rain, shine and snow, unless there is an imminent health risk such as a frostbite or hail warning, or if lightning is in the forecast.

The preschool is geared to kids 3 1/2 to 5, with sessions running September to December then January to June. It has two locations presently: one on the West Island and one in St. Leonard. For September, there are still spaces available in St. Leonard but there is a waiting list for the West Island. In the interest of practicing social distancing, each group will have no more than eight kids (plus their parents/guardians).

The classes are from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and will take place once a week: a Monday group and a Wednesday group in St. Leonard, and a Tuesday group and Thursday group in the West Island.

The cost for the fall semester, once a week (for 16 weeks) is $192. Registration can be done by emailing mailto:play@riversongforestschool.ca.

For more information, visit riversongforestschool.ca.