“Look! Come over here! You can see a digger from here,” yells Lee one member of the small class of children at the I Ur och Skur Spetsbergen preschool just south of Stockholm. He’s not pointing out of a window at a digger. He’s out in a forest, muddy, wet and full of energy – just like his classmates.
This forest behind the school is their playground and they know it like the backs of their hands. There are no even surfaces that have been flattened or levelled. Instead the kids have to practice their balancing and motor skills and continuously solve problems. This is their classroom, when weather permits. And this is where they do the bulk of their learning.
These children are at an I Ur och Skur school. I Ur och Skur roughly translates from Swedish as Come Rain or Shine. Developed 30 years ago by the Swedish Outdoor Association, I Ur och Skur focuses on learning through experience, discovery and play, using all the body’s senses.
Its creators believe the system creates healthier, stronger and more creative children who learn how to appreciate and take care of nature. And it’s backed up by scientific evidence too.
“Children can concentrate more in a varied natural outdoor environment, they are healthier and develop better physical and psychological tools,” says Anders Szczepanski, teacher and Assistant Professor of Outdoor Education at the National Centre for Outdoor Education at Linköping University.
And this science is backed up by “classroom” evidence, asSofia Bergner, head teacher at I Ur och Skur Spetsbergen, point out.
“We see a difference in the new children who start here. Their motor skills aren’t as developed and they aren’t used to walking and running outside on surfaces that aren’t lawns. But they develop so quickly and are soon as comfortable in the terrain as the other children. It is wonderful to see them gain so much confidence.”
Developing a true respect for and love of nature is something that’s in tune with our vision here at Fjällräven. Our aim is to encourage and help (through gear and knowledge sharing) more people to get outside and enjoy nature. We want this love affair with nature to start as early as possible and that’s why we’ve supported I Ur och Skur in nursery schools for many years. And will continue to do so.
“For us, it is important that we help get children out into nature early because we know this makes a difference for how they value nature as adults,” says Martin Axelhed, CEO of Fjällräven and initiator of the collaboration.
“If kids learn to love nature from an early age, they will want to take care of it as adults.”
You can find out more about I Ur och Skur here (in Swedish)