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Montessori Education Week to open with A Celebration of Children in Nature

Cedarsong Director Erin Kenny.
Cedarsong Director Erin Kenny.
Photo courtesy of Cedarsong.

Erin Kenny, author and director of the Cedarsong Nature School, will keynote St. Catherine University’s Advanced Montessori Program Community Celebration of Montessori Education Week on Sunday, Feb. 28. She is an internationally-recognized expert on the Forest Kindergarten early childhood education model and author of Forest Kindergartens: the Cedarsong Way, published in 2013. Kenny will share her journey and personal discoveries developing the school.

The Forest Kindergarten model’s foundation grew out of German educator Friedrich Froebel, who opened the very first “kindergarten” in 1837. His principles and methods focused on experiential learning immersed in nature. While most kindergartens today have moved inside, there are “forest kindergarten” schools across Europe based on Froebel’s original ideas.

In 2007, Erin Kenny formed Cedarsong Nature School, the first in the U.S. based on the model, on Vashon Island, a rural island in Puget Sound accessible only by ferry. A self-described “born naturalist” with a passion for teaching children and adults about the natural world, Kenny learned about Froebel’s work during study abroad trips to Europe as an undergrad at Evergreen College.

“I visited "Froebelian" schools in Scotland. His key principles emphasizing outdoor learning time and free play in nature as a teaching/learning method really resonated with me,” says Kenny. “When I saw these schools, I realized I was already using much of Froebel's methodology and I started joking to my European colleagues that I was an intuitive Froebelian!”

Kenny also created the Cedarsong Forest Kindergarten Teaching Training and Certification program that has attracted participants from around the globe. She frequently speaks at conferences and presents on early childhood education using total nature immersion and hands-on experiential learning.

 St. Kate's event details

On Saturday, Feb. 27, Kenny will conduct a workshop at St. Catherine University's St. Paul campus to introduce the model. Thanks to the generous sponsorship from the Sister Anne Harvey fund, this workshop is free but registration is required. CEU certificates will be issued for 4 contact hours.

Sunday’s celebration begins at 4 p.m. with an open house and tour of St. Kate’s Advanced Montessori Program offices, followed by a social hour and dinner in the Rauenhorst Ballroom inside Coeur de Catherine on the St. Paul campus.

To register or learn more about the workshop and Community Celebration, visit Advanced Montessori Programs.

To learn more

The Seattle Times produced this video that illustrates what children experience at the Cedarsong Forest Kindergarten. 

Feb. 8, 2016 by Julie Michener

See also: Education, STEM