Who we are, what we do, and why we do it.
'They could see the trees in the wood, and hear them talking their strange tree-talk: 'Wisha, Wisha, Wisha, Wisha.'
Enid Blyton- The Folk of the Faraway Tree.
We are Faraway Tree Kindergarten.
We use the name 'Kindergarten' as an alternative to nursery or preschool to define our setting. The word 'Kindergarten' is German in origin, and translates in English to 'children's garden'. This fits with our focus on outdoor learning and play opportunities, alongside our inspiration taken from international pedagogies through the children's access to a huge range of green spaces available to them in the great outdoors.
Many people recognise the name Faraway Tree and perhaps are reminded of a great tree, within an enchanted wood, of a moon faced friend, and an abundance of magic and imagination.
This is how we believe early childhood should be for young children. Many great influencers of early childhood care and education theories and approaches around the world believed in the sanctity of early childhood. This survives on in practice today and is seen in settings that have play based or natural influences such as Montessori, Waldorf, that of Reggio Emilia, Te Whariki as seen within the Early Years curriculum in New Zealand, the Forest School Approach as founded in Scandinavia and many 'nature kindergartens' around the world.
We follow a child- centered approach, with a focus on natural learning techniques and outdoor learning.
Because if early childhood isn't a special time for freedom and imagination, then when is?
We have two sites, the first in Much Hadham, Hertfordshire. The second, opening in September 2021, located at Parndon Wood Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in Harlow, Essex.
A tailored, individualised, approach to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) through a setting that is inspired by the Reggio Emilia, Waldorf and Forest School approaches to early childhood care and education.
For us, this means; A strong focus on outdoor learning, that the environment is the child's third teacher, community links, A topic based approach to learning that is influenced directly by observations of child-led play and incorporates links to nature and the world surrounding us.
Our resources and equipment are natural where possible. We focus the use of natural, open ended resources in play. This is to encourage sensory experiences and natural curiosity within play for the children.
We offer Forest School as part of our continuous approach and our manager is a qualified Forest School leader.
We have an allotment plot on a nearby site. The allotment has two large spaces, incorporating an herb / sensory bed, a quiet / mindfulness corner / a living den, a mud kitchen corner, a growing dome / greenhouse perfect for growing all manner of exciting and delicious things, alongside offering further opportunities to create animals homes and habitats, explore nature, birdwatch, and to generally investigate in the outdoors.
Local access to; A Ford, Farms, Museum, Recreation ground with play park and tennis courts, woodland, allotment sites, miles of public country footpaths, outstanding natural beauty.
We provide all-in-one wetsuits for the children to wear while off-site. The children are colour co-ordinated by age, enabling adults out with them to easily recognise where the children may need extra support while walking in a group. They are yellow for children aged three to four years and red for children aged two years, with high visibility stripes to ensure they are visible against the natural background. They have reinforced knees and seat, giving extra protection where toddlers need it! This gives them more freedom while we are out walking on large, open, green spaces. In addition, all staff and children wear hi-visibility jackets when out on walks, giving them extra security and visibility near traffic.
Much Hadham is a semi-rural village in east Hertfordshire. The village is historically interesting and ancient in parts. We have discovered an old prisoner of war camp, a palace, a police house, an abundance of history through our village museum and friendly curator, original roads and pathways. There have been dwellings in Much Hadham since the 15th century, but we are definitely the first outdoor early years setting!
We think it is absolutely beautiful, and that a classroom without walls is probably the best kind for children under five years. With this is mind, we go outside every day. The children enjoy learning and play in the nearby woodland, on our allotment and in and around the many beautiful green spaces on our doorstep right in the village.
We understand the the importance of having the options available to enable those of us with very young children to choose a childcare setting that truly suits us as families and the very individual ways in which every young child learns. We aim to provide a flexible, inclusive approach to early years care and education.