Waldkindergarten is a kindergarten with a forest pedagogical and open approach for children between one year and school entrance. In our work, we dedicate ourselves to the ethical values according to nature and environmental education. Basically, we are out in nature in any weather, except during storms or temperatures far below freezing. The smallest children stay with us in the garden or make small trips in the nearby nature. The kindergarten day is determined by recurrent rituals and processes, embedded in the annual cycle of nature. Children will particularly experience those through daily trips to nature. With all senses, the children can experience the transitions of the seasons, the cold, heat, rain and snow, as well as the bustle of the animals. With its unfinished character, nature offers a wealth of play opportunities. A tree root can be a horse, a car, a pirate ship or as a cozy chair to linger and listen to the sounds of the forest. We cultivate an appreciative and non-violent communication, caring for each other and the things that surround us, and we learn together. Of particular importance to us is a conscious design of the transitions – to kindergarten, from group to group, and to school. We see these as important steps that require familiar, invigorating and loving accompaniment so that the children can grow and move on inwardly.
We have 51 children in 3 groups. The volunteers accompany the children playing, carving, crafting, climbing and having lunch and vespers. In addition, there are small household tasks to do, in which all employees of the kindergarten help. Furthermore, there is always the opportunity to carry out a project of their own, to arrange morning rounds and to support them during the festive organization. Intercultural parents’ cafés and evening events can also be co-designed. Each year, we have a tent camp and a farewell ritual weekend for the older children. Supporting those, the volunteers learn to work independently and implement their ideas in projects with children between 1 and 7 years. They get to know children in their free play and learn how to join them with simple and few resources. In addition, they get to know the work in a team. They experience appreciative communication and are encouraged to represent or protect their interests and boundaries. During all of this, they can learn German.