21 Aug Fiona’s Story – Her Childhood at an Outdoor Preschool in Sweden
Guest Blogger Fiona Yemanberhan Shares her Experiences of attending an Outdoor Preschool in Sweden and the Impact that it had on her Life
I was raised in Stockholm, Sweden where outdoor Preschools are very common. Children ages 3-6 attend Preschools that spend an average of 4-6 hours/day outside year-round. My Preschool in an outdoor setting was a lot of fun and filled with many good memories that helped me appreciate nature as a young child and learn about the world around me.
My Preschool gave each child books about the nature that surrounded us. We learned about plants and animals, such as birds and mushrooms. We learned about Geography including the cities. The children would learn about what was growing in the woods and how food was grown. We studied many different topics, such as the Galaxy, Milky Way and different planets in the solar system. We also went hiking in the woods. The teachers set up games during our hikes that helped us learn and develop.
My Preschool had many play-based activities and trips, such as going to the park, zoo, and harbor. At the park, we would have class sessions and events where children would be split into two teams. The teams would participate in various activities and each child would receive a certificate at the end. At the park, we would also have classroom visitors, such as Police Officers and Fire Fighters. They would give us talks about their fields and even lead classroom activities.
Another fun memory that I have are the celebrations and holidays. The teachers would set up birthday celebrations for each child during the week and we would celebrate with the whole class. During the holidays, we would make decorations and bring home to our families.
In Sweden, every community is responsible for providing funds for their preschools. For example if a community has 4 preschools, then the community will distribute funds equally to each school. My hometown had 5 Preschools and each school was funded by our community, so my family did not pay out of pocket.
Preschool in Sweden is outdoors year round even during the winter. We were dressed very warmly during the winter months. We had many play-based activities, so we were constantly moving. I have good memories of eating outside with my class during lunch every day and the teachers would bring us our meals. During the winter, we would sit by the fireplace in a circle and eat with our class. There is a Swedish proverb: “there is no bad weather, just bad clothing.” We were prepared and played outdoors every day, even in the snow or rain.
Looking back going to an outdoor preschool had a lifelong impact on me; it helped me learn an appreciation for nature as a young child. I learned so much about what surrounded us, how food was grown and exploring the outdoors. We were able to apply what we learn. For example, we would pick the mushrooms and berries that we learned about. By being outdoors, we could visually see what we were learning about. It was a great experience that helped me develop as a child and really appreciate my surroundings.
Fiona Yemanberhan lives in Stockholm, Sweden. She graduated from Ängskolan University and works in the Medical Device industry. Fiona enjoys traveling and spending time with family & friends.