In Prague, a nursery school without walls

A Prague nursery school takes outdoor education to a new level as the first "forest nursery school" in the country, where classes are entirely outside.

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    Students of the Semínko nursery school in Prague.
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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

It’s a bright and blustery day as the students attending Semínko nursery school in Prague, Czech Republic, arrive. But no one is going inside, and there’s no field trip planned. Here, nature is the classroom.

“When children are in an outdoor preschool, they are healthy, independent, more creative, [and] have improved motor skills and better concentration,” says Magdalena Kapuciánová, the school’s director. “So far, we have had a high demand from parents; lots of them want their children to attend.”

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Semínko opened this September as the first “forest nursery school” to be approved by the Ministry of Education. It’s located on the grounds of Toulcuv Dvur, an environmental education center in the suburbs of Prague. The kids have instant contained access to rolling fields, trees, and a range of animals.

In the summer they work in a garden and learn to recognize trees and leaves. As autumn turns to winter, new learning opportunities appear, such as the sets of tracks made by birds revealed by the wet ground. As the morning walk through the woods begins, the geese get a wave, and everyone stops to say good morning to the pigs. Leaves are picked up and examined and the children are fully engaged with their surroundings. Ms. Kapuciánová adds that they haven’t had a child yet start to cry when Mom or Dad left.

“They have a lot of things to do and they look forward to the day,” she said. “We teach them to love nature, keep active, and be independent.”

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