The outdoor nursery that lets kids play with saws and fire

The nursery has received an 'outstanding' rating by a government agency.
Outdoor nursery

Outdoor nursery

Outdoor nursery

Would you let your kids attend a playgroup where they’re allowed to play with sharp objects, cook on an open fire and brave the elements?

One nursery in England allows them to do just that, running their daycare from a remote forest with no running water or electricity, and employing a back-to-basics approach to child rearing.

The Elves and Fairies Woodland Nursery in Dorset is seen by some as an antidote to the ‘cotton-wool’ culture that surrounds many childcare centres.

As part of their programme, children from the age of two are climbing trees, rolling in mud, sawing wood, chopping veg and cooking on an open fire.

They spend all day outside, learning to make shelters or wood weaving, and only retreat to a nearby village hall if when the weather becomes dangerous.

Owner Kirsteen Freer started the nursery a decade ago and says an average day for the kids involves camp fires, nature crafts and preparing food together, a stark contrast from the colouring in and sugary drink breaks of many other nurseries.

And it seems Ofsted (the government organisation in charge of rating schools and nurseries) are inclined to agree with Freer’s style of childcare, giving the nursery an ‘outstanding’ rating after their most recent visit.

The 57-year-old owner explained that she grew up in the great outdoors, going camping and walking in the woods, but knew plenty of children who didn’t have these experiences.

“Our hope is that they will grow into teenagers and adults that aren’t easily bored and that appreciate what’s around them,” she said.

“The idea came from Scandanavia, outdoor nurseries are quite common there.”

Another bonus for local families is that, compared to other nursery options, this one is a relatively cheap alternative, being 37.50 GBP ($68.00 NZ).

Ofsted inspectors said that the children who attend the daycare are “highly motivated by the extremely exciting range of challenging learning experiences.”

“They become immersed in learning as they explore, investigate and engage with the natural environment of the woodland.”

As Cyclone Cook hit New Zealand, Pukekos Educare Ltd in Thames shared an adorable video of what their kids made of the torrential rain and ensuing mud.

The result was an adorable video of the kids laughing and splashing about in the wet weather, that has since gone viral to more than 36 million viewers.

Learn more about the outdoor nursery here.

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