Note: "Kindergarten" is being used in the European sense of the word meaning "A garden for children". (In our school it encompasses children in the 2 - 6 year age range.)
Though scarcely known in the U.S., Forest Kindergartens —or Waldkindergartens— are growing in popularity in European and Scandinavian countries where they've realized the importance nature plays in the development of the whole child. Also known as "Rain or Shine" schools, they allow for outdoor time —usually in a forest, but any natural area that lends itself to running, climbing, and exploring will do— no matter what the weather.
Yes! Children will be playing outside in the mud! If you've never made a mud pie before, you may want to "play hooky" from work one day and join us!
Although it may sound crazy to let children play outside when it's raining or cold (or both!), the studies conducted on these schools have suggested just the opposite —children in Forest Kindergartens tend to get sick less! Perhaps the results are due to the fresh outdoor air (not inside coughing and sneezing on each other) or the boost to the immune system from their happy outdoor forays. In either case, it is remarkable.
There is so much more to learn about these wonderful schools that we encourage you to explore further. Here is one suggested article: http://www.edutopia.org/early-childhood-outdoor-education-waldkindergarten. Check out some unbiased opinions and decide for yourself —but our minds are made up!