Many note that “school playground” no longer fits the bill — the swings that you can only use one way and the slides you’ve been instructed to not climb up. “School playgrounds,” after all, were designed to mimic nature’s playground, but they do so rather poorly.
Why use monkey bars when real branches are everywhere you look? Why use stairs when boulders will get you there? Why have a staticky slide when there is a slide made of mud on every other hill? Why have a plastic playground molded to look like nature when Missouri is full of woodland?
Raintree School is a campus amidst a forest, a vast forest with meadows, prairies, creeks, and boulders. We use our forest everyday: to learn, to imagine, to explore, to take risks. Forest school builds agency in children. It allows them to take ownership of their learning and encourages them to learn to trust themselves and their ideas. With every leap, swing, and splash, the freedom of the forest builds self-awareness, independence, and confidence as children evaluate the risks they are taking and discover the natural world around them.
"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
At Raintree, the forest is an extension of our classrooms; it is an extension of our homes.