Preschool in the forest: Louisville urban area’s first forest preschool opens

Preschool in the forest: Louisville urban area’s first forest preschool opens

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - At Swallowtail Forest Preschool located in Louisville’s Nature Center, the forest is the classroom. The school welcomed preschoolers for the first time Monday.

“It’s very child-led, so whatever they’re interested in the teachers will follow that,” Rebecca Minnick, executive director of the Louisville Nature Center said.

Swallowtail Forest School is the first of its kind in Louisville’s urban area. Minnick said the concept of a forest school is relatively new in the United States. Students enrolled in Swallowtail will learn outside year-round, even in the rain or snow. Preschoolers can explore nature at their own pace and choose their activity, whether it’s going on a hike or playing in the nature playground which has a gravel pit, mud kitchen, log drum set, built-in tree library, and more.

“There’s so much research that’s been done (saying) that time in nature, especially unstructured time in nature is really beneficial to children,” Minnick said. “It helps with their socio-emotional development, it actually encourages creativity, and it helps children learn to take risks and assess risks.”

According to Minnick, parents said they’re grateful for the school because it has provided them with a safe place to send their children during the pandemic. Minnick told WAVE 3 News the staff expects outdoor learning to have a positive impact on the students.

“It never gets old seeing children discover things, seeing that excitement,” Minnick said, “but we’re excited about this school because now we’ll be able to see the kids daily and see how they grow over the course of the year.”

Swallowtail Forest School teaches 10 children at a time, Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The school is currently full. To reserve a spot on the waitlist, click here.

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