Not an iPad in sight: Woodland nursery that shows children and young as two how to build fires and use knives is bucking the trend for letting technology entertain the kids
- The Woodshed Forest School Nursery is near Croydon, south London
- Owner Jack Scrivens want children to learn social skills and self-awareness
- Songs will be sung around a fire circle and there will be large tents and a yurt
- There will be no traditional school buildings at the nursery opening in January
Four-year-old Joseph, pictured, is learning to whittle wood at a nursery near Croydon, south London
What did you learn at nursery? Probably not how to build a fire or use a sheath knife…
That, however, is exactly what one new school will be teaching youngsters aged two to five in an attempt to wean them away from their iPads.
And it will all be done outdoors in 65 acres of woodland – whatever the weather.
Children will be taught to use tools such as bow saws and billhooks to make shelters, and will learn to forage in the woods, where there will be hammocks and rope swings.
Songs will be sung around a fire circle, and there will be a couple of large tents and a yurt with a wood-burning stove inside, but no traditional school buildings.
The creators of the Woodshed Forest School Nursery near Croydon, South London, say the aim is to encourage children to ask and answer questions for themselves and to appreciate nature.
Owner Jack Scrivens said: ‘I grew up in a slum area of London. We played in derelict buildings and bomb sites where we made dens, built rafts and lit fires. We used to whittle wood to fashion toys.
‘There were no adults present and all of us kids were safe. Children assessed risk and looked after themselves and each other.’ Deputy manager Christopher Boyles said the school would teach children ‘social skills, self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, empathy’.
Here four-year-old Joseph is pictured cooking on an outside stove at the Woodshed Forest Nursery School in south Croydon
Here, Joseph, aged four is pictured using a billhook to chop wood under the supervision of the Woodshed Nursery School’s deputy manager Christopher Boyles, left
The nursery does not have any traditional school buildings and uses a Mongolian yurt instead
He added: ‘Using real tools as opposed to plastic tools provides a real learning experience, and there will be many safety measures in place. There is no set age for a child using a tool. It is judged on a case-by-case basis. One two-year-old may be able to light a fire whereas a four-year-old may not.
‘Today we’ve lost a connection with the outdoors, there’s too many children on iPads and computers living a fast-paced life when they need to slow down and just be kids.
‘Life is a bit more difficult in the forest. You can’t press a button and boil water. You will need to collect wood and build a fire before getting hot water. This gives you a sense of achievement.’
The Ofsted-registered nursery opens on January 7. It will run 8am to 6pm five days a week, all year round, and cater for some 20 children. Fees are £40 for half a day and £70 for full, with funded hours for those who are eligible. Average nursery fees in Croydon are £42 a day, according to the childcare.co.uk website.