It should come as no surprise that a love of the outdoors is ingrained in Scandinavians from a very early age. This belief that the great outdoors should be a part of everyone’s day to day life is summed up with it’s very own word: “Friluftsliv.”
The benefits of time spent outdoors are more well documented than ever before. So why then is it that we are failing to instil this same spirit and belief in our own children? Our countryside, forests and beaches are renowned the world over as some of the most accessible and beautiful on the planet. If our countryside is just as good, if not better, why aren’t we getting our kids out there enjoying nature early?
In recent years a poll undertaken by Persil found that 75% of UK children spent less times outdoors than prisoners! A sorry state of affairs for a country with so much to offer in terms of great outdoor experiences. How have we allowed ourselves to slip this far and are their any obvious answers to this problem?
At Nordic Outdoor we’re absolutely 100% behind a life rooted in the outdoors and this is most important during our developmental years. One brilliant way of getting your child involved in the outdoors in a safe and organised way is through an outdoor school or nursery. When we moved into our Richmond store, we heard tell about a fantastic new nursery starting up that is attempting to do just that! The Outdoor Owls Richmond.
Who are Outdoor Owls?
Outdoor Owls is a brand new nursery founded by Danish outdoor enthusiast Helene Mark who, like us, is trying to bring a little bit of the Scandinavian ethos to the people of London.
The Scandinavian ‘Forest School’ model first appeared in the 1950’s with Goesta Frohm who introduced Sweden to the concept of ‘Skogsmulle’. Worried that children were becoming increasingly detached from nature Goesta encouraged first hand sensory experiences through trips to the forest using the imaginary character of Mulle to help children experience nature in new ways. This new concept of outdoor learning took a while to take hold however in 1986 Sweden opened their first ‘I Ur och Skur’ nursery which literally translates as In Rain or Shine. This movement has now grown to include more than 200 nurseries and 20 primary schools which are based on the Skogsmulle method of education.
Outdoor Owls have brought this concept to the UK and believe that it is important to prepare children not just for School but for life. By breaking free from the classroom walls Outdoor Owls hope the encourage the children’s creativity to flow. During their early years children are very receptive to learning via play, talk and sensory experiences. By spending more time in nature children are exposed to more textures, feels and smells than in a classroom and this fresh environment can make learning fun!
Summing up their philosophy on education, founder Helene Mark says
“Our educational philosophy is child-led and guided by a couple of core principles. Firstly, we focus on what your child can do, not what they can't. Secondly, we refrain from telling your child 'what' to think but rather facilitate them in 'how' to think. By following these principles and not wrapping your child in cotton wool, we believe your child will leave us strong and prepared for future learning and the rest of their lives.”
With many hours dedicated to outside learning at their Forest Basecamp located next to Petersham Lodge Woods, this incredible school is guaranteed to give your child an appreciation for the great outdoors early on in life.
The concept of outdoor learning is not just beneficial for the children but also provides a circular relationship where the next generation will have a deeper appreciated for nature. Already we see the younger generation lead the charge with regards to the climate crises and if more Children are to be taught outdoors and spend more time with nature we can expect these children to lead the charge to create a more sustainable future.
Example Day at Outdoor Owls
Whilst the nature of each class day may change you can find an example of an average day from the Outdoor Owls Website below;
Outdoor Owls and Nordic Outdoor
When we first heard about the work that Outdoor Owls are doing in the local community we knew we had to get involved and speak to our brands about what more we could do to encourage this style of Outdoor learning.
Luckily for us our friends over at Tentipi agreed that this is a great concept which we need to see more of and stepped in to provide the team with one of the best tents on the market – the Safir 9. Perfect for use in Outdoor learning settings the Safir 9 offers room for all the children to get some naptime and provides a handy shelter should the weather turn – which isn’t uncommon in the UK! While the Safir 9 is slightly smaller these can fit in a lot more children than you’d ever expect, here at Nordic Outdoor we once managed to get 70 primary school children in a Safir 15!
Along with the great help from Tentipi Outdoor Owls have teamed up with Didriksons who have provided the children with all the outdoor clothing they will need to enhance their outdoors learning experience! The two companies have a clear link as Didriksons live by the motto – there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes! The Didriksons Children collection is made for a world where everything is possible, in which imagination plays a huge role and boring obstacles like being wet and cold shouldn’t interrupt the fun. This is the world which Outdoor Owls are looking to create!
Finally Outdoor Owls put a massive focus on the importance of good nutrition for the Children in their care. For this reason they have enlisted their very own chef, Donna. The team aim to use locally sourced ingredients in all meals and look to provide at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day to encourage the children to adopt healthy habits. To help children develop a link between the Outdoors and food the team may even cook some food around the campfire, supervised by the qualified Forest School staff. For this cooking and eating the team have decided to use Light My Fire Bio spork littles and stackplates! These incredible products not only have a nature colourway but are also made using bio-based plastics
If you're interested in finding out more or signing up the Outdoor Owls nursery is open from January 2020! Their website can be found here. If you have a project you think Nordic Outdoor should be involved with then please don't hesitate to reach out to the team at [email protected]