In Scandinavia, many children attend forest kindergartens, where they spend most of their days outside, rain or shine. In the words of one teacher, “I’ve never met a child so wet that they couldn’t get dry again.” Even children who live in urban settings are frequently taken into the wilderness, into national parks, where they engage with nature for hours on end.
Kids as young as three are given knives and saws and taught how to use them properly. They wield fishing rods, tie their own knots, climb steep inclines and walls. They are encouraged to build fires, to help prepare school meals, even to get hurt in order to learn their own boundaries.
Natural adventure playgrounds are designed carefully and consciously, complete with boulder piles, rough terrain, hanging ropes, obstacle courses, and loose parts, including ‘dangerous’ materials like old boards with nails sticking out of them. Nobody is yelling at the kids to “be careful!” or “stop doing that!” because Scandinavian adults understand risk assessment. They know how to find that balance between a bit of injury that will teach a good lesson and actual danger – very little of which actually exists, unlike the a more careful attitude toward play.
BRUSSELS FOR KIDS