forest school

Many note that “school play­ground” no longer fits the bill — the swings with rules about direc­tion and the slides you’ve been instructed to not climb up.  “School play­grounds,” after all, mimic nature’s play­ground, and rather poorly.  Why use mon­key bars when real branches are full of crags and moss and tex­ture?  Why use stairs when boul­ders will get you there?  Why have a plas­tic play­ground molded to look like nature when Mis­souri is full of wood­land?  It’s time for the train­ing wheels to fall off.  (A gar­den plot on a plas­tic play­ground just doesn’t cut it.)


Rain­tree School is a cam­pus amidst a for­est.  We hope the exis­tence of our for­est school marks the begin­ning of a new aware­ness — and embrace of — children’s need to have wild­lands.  Chil­dren are observers and explor­ers by nature.  But the fan­tasy many par­ents once cov­eted, of beau­ti­ful land­scapes for chil­dren to frolic in and run free, has given way to a dull real­ity mit­i­gated by landscape-crowding play sets, shrink­ing recess times, and a gen­er­a­tion wor­ried about get­ting their hands dirty.  The for­est for us is inti­mately entwined with the

"It takes a universe to make a child both in outer form and inner spirit. It takes a universe to educate a child. A universe to fulfill a child."
— Thomas Berry

the daily cre­ative work our stu­dents do.  And at once, our 11-acre wood stands apart as an hon­est diver­sion for young chil­dren (i.e., some­thing explored for sheer per­sonal ful­fill­ment with­out con­cern for the inher­ent learn­ing, per­sonal growth, and ah-ha moments it bestows.)


As a school for chil­dren of the cre­ative and sci­en­tific sort, we need the for­est in our lives - place that helps refresh our per­sonal well­spring with­out the pres­sure of aca­d­e­mic oblig­a­tions and rigid time frames.  Often we choose to search for evi­dence of mam­mals or mea­sure the changes brought on by the rhythm of sea­sons (because every ven­ture needs a touch of struc­ture) but our for­est will remain a mag­i­cal place, full of won­der and mystery.