Auchlone Nature Kindergarten

Auchlone Nature Kindergarten is an award winning early years centre based near Crieff in Scotland.  As a nature kindergarten, we follow the underlying philosophy as defined by Claire Warden in her book Nature Kindergartens and Forest Schools. The children spend over 80% of their time outdoors while at Auchlone, but being a nature kindergarten is so much more than that: whether we are inside, outside or offsite we take a consideration to nature in any learning experience. We want to use nature to provide children with authentic learning opportunities that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

Auchlone offers the best of all worlds to allow children the opportunity to build great childhood memories - a secure natural space inside, a gently challenging outdoor investigative zone which supports young children to develop emotional confidence and skills, and then the wild wood where they can feel the freedom of a fully natural environment. Children between 2 and 5 years old spend the majority of the day outdoors in all weathers, either in the very naturalistic garden or in the woodlands where they build dens and bird hides using tools such as saws and loppers, make fires to cook their own snacks, climb trees and generally explore the wonders that the woodlands have to offer.

Above all else, we hope to share a positive attitude and enthusiasm for experiential learning with parents, children and other settings across the world.

History

In 2006 Mindstretchers opened the first outdoor Nature Kindergarten in Scotland, Whistlebrae, with the underlying philosophy of Claire Warden as defined in her book Nature Kindergartens. The site later moved to Auchlone Nature Kindergarten near Crieff, Scotland, in 2009. The enthusiastic implementation of the Nature Kindergarten philosophy has resulted in Auchlone being considered sector leading and recognised internationally. Over the last few years Auchlone has been a finalist and winner for many different awards, including NMT's Outdoor Learning Environment 2016 and Nursery World's Nursery of the Year 2016.

Auchlone Nature Kindergarten

Auchlone aims to:

  • provide a safe and stimulating environment in which children can feel happy and secure.
  • provide children with a very naturalistic environment indoors, in the garden and in the wild woods where they are encouraged and supported to take risks and become the risk assessors.
  • encourage the emotional, social, physical, creative and intellectual development of children both indoors and outdoors.
  • promote the welfare of children and encourage their independence through the use of appropriate praise and reassurance.
  • encourage positive attitudes to self and others, and develop confidence and self-esteem.
  • create opportunities for both indoor and outdoor play which, at times, is challenging both physically and mentally.
  • encourage children to explore, appreciate and respect their environment.
  • provide opportunities to stimulate interest and imagination.
  • extend children's abilities to communicate ideas and feelings in a variety of ways.
  • promote a close relationship with parents and the community.
  • promote liaison between the Kindergarten and local Primary schools.

Auchlone Nature Kindergarten recently won the Nursery Outdoor Learning Environment award at the Scottish NMT Nursery Awards 2016.

The judges chose Auchlone Nature Kindergarten because we "demonstrated a high quality outdoor living classroom that inspires and excites children. The children were very much involved in decision making and planning. Overall the nursery provides fantastic life skill opportunities that the children can use with confidence."

Manager Danielle Ramsay said: "All of the staff, parents and children are ecstatic to win this award. It has affirmed that the Auchlone ethos and outdoor learning we do with children helps give the best start in life."

Auchlone was also a nominee for "Nursery of the Year" in the Nursery World Awards 2016.