The Cedarsong Way®
History of The Cedarsong Way
As co-founder of Cedarsong Nature School with Robin Rogers in 2007, Erin Kenny successfully established the first U.S. Forest Kindergarten, a gold standard model of an entirely outdoor preschool, based on the German Waldkindergartens. The Cedarsong Way nature immersion pedagogy emerged from their experiences.
Erin 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 spoke 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 released two other books, Nature Notes Journal: Documenting Your Emergent Curriculum and Teaching the Cedarsong Way: Lessons from an award-winning Forest Kindergarten, both co-written with Robin Rogers. Erin also contributed a chapter to David Sobel’s book, Nature Preschools and Forest Kindergartens.
Innovative and inspiring, Cedarsong garnered media attention from outlets including The Seattle Times, People magazine, ABC’s Nightline, Sierra Club magazine, Al Jazeera and the British television show Daybreak. News footage captured the tiny students, well bundled in rain gear, exuberantly exploring the forest.
Erin’s expertise led her to establish the first U.S. Forest Kindergarten Teacher Training and Certification Program in North America in 2010 and, during the following 8 years, she trained over 350 teachers from across this continent and beyond. Teachers came 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. The Cedarsong Way® Teacher Training program is still currently one of the very few Forest Kindergarten Teacher Training and Certification programs in the United States.
The Cedarsong Way® can be implemented with any age group and at any type of school, regardless of whether it is a 100% outdoor school or not. The key is unstructured time in nature. One of the cornerstones of this unique method is that there is no predetermined curriculum. Lesson plans flow organically each day from what nature presents and from the student’s interests. The goal is to tap into their sense of awe and wonder about nature and encourage children’s natural love of science in the field resulting in a deeper understanding and superior retention of natural science principles.
Cedarsong Way teachers’ roles are as mentors and guides, actively modeling curiosity and engagement in nature, while allowing student’s interests to lead the day.
The philosophy behind this education model is that people, especially children, deeply benefit from spending time outdoors,where they receive the stimulation and natural learning experiences we are all born to crave. Being outdoors provides not only fresh air and natural lighting, but also hands-on experiential learning, which encourages imaginative play, creativity, hand-eye coordination, balance, physical strength, sensory exploration, and mental clarity.
This pedagogy encourages children’s natural love of science, resulting in deep understanding and superior retention of natural science principles, while promoting advance social skills, teamwork and cooperation, and a high level of emotional intelligence. The Cedarsong Way® is a compassion-scaffolded program; fostering emotional intelligence, mindfulness, empathy and awareness.
The unstructured free-time in nature resonates well with children diagnosed with autism, ADHD and/or sensory processing disorders and it complements the physical, occupational and speech therapy that is commonly prescribed for these children.
Using children’s authentic interaction with nature and with each other, The Cedarsong Way® helps guide them through their unique challenges.