Getting outside and dirty is only a subway or bus ride away! Established in 2015, Kings County Forest School is Brooklyn's first and only all-ages, by donation outdoor initiative providing the opportunity to explore, learn, and experience the wonders of nature that exist in our otherwise urban environment. In New York City, this means exploring the vast and quiet spaces within our beautiful parks and very special recreational and historical areas.
For younger children we emphasize open-ended and child-led exploration and activities utilizing a custom nature-based curriculum focusing on art, science, STEM/STEAM skills, and conservation. For older children, they are offered the same benefits while running "wild" is the name of the game with activity prompts, climbing, digging, and getting lost in their imagination.
Our philosophy is inspired by German educator Friedrich Frobel who opened the first outdoors kindergartens over 150 years ago and the belief that all children have the innate capacity to wonder, create, and develop their gifts through self-directed play and unstructured time in nature. Children are encouraged and inspired to grow in confidence, independence and self-esteem while developing an appreciation of the natural world which will encourage respect and responsibility for nature in later life, all while reaping the benefits of spending time in a "classroom" without walls (and without the pressure of emphasizing learning letters and numbers).
Lessons flow organically from the experience of natural rhythms of the seasons and from the children’s daily discoveries. There are no set lesson plans: each day is shaped by the animals, insects, birds, amphibians, weather, and foraging that is encountered, providing spontaneous teachable moments. In addition, Kings County Forest School also offers a unique nature-based curriculum shared through subject-specific workshops in the park, gardens, at the waterfront, and beyond.
For our parent-child experiences, adults enjoy time away from their daily tasks, technology, media, and responsibilities in quiet observing their children. Depending on specific sites, we make attempts to meet year round in all weather.
Our initiative is structured to allow all interested families that align with our vision and bolster our community of nature learners the opportunity to participate, regardless of ability to pay. Like a museum, you sign up to join our community and pay what you can when you show up. 95% of proceeds go directly to several conservancy-based non-profits. The other 5% goes to keeping this website maintained and for any materials or supplies that we need to replace/replenish. We believe every child, regardless of household income, deserves the benefits of quality unstructured time spent outdoors. We are volunteer based and our non-profit status is pending.