A group of excited toddlers enter a forest near their daycare centre in Helsinki. They have come to this part of the woods to play many times before, and the children climb nimbly over big rocks and tree stumps.
Susanna Suutarla, CEO of Taiga Child Daycare Centres, explains how they design their routine around a nature theme:
“For us, nature is another one of our spaces, and we enjoy spending time outdoors year-round, come rain or shine. We spend many hours outside every day, and we often even eat outside.”
Taiga Child was founded 20 years ago. “We worked together with the Finnish Outdoor Association to create a concept called ‘At home in nature,’ which emphasises playing and safety in nature, as well as spending time together doing things in an unhurried manner.”
Children learn to feel at home outdoors, in the varied terrain. The natural environment feeds their imagination, and curious children observe and learn from their surroundings while playing.
“In the forest, children learn hands-on how to tell the difference between a spruce and a birch, and to take care of their environment,” says Suutarla. “You wouldn’t leave the playroom untidy after playing indoors and the same applies to the outdoor play area. We cherish the values of a sustainable lifestyle.”
By Marina Ahlberg, ThisisFINLAND Magazine 2019