Scotland might seem an unlikely location for outdoor nurseries to be thriving, but as the concept originated in Scandinavia it really should be no surprise to discover this sort of setting is so popular in the northernmost part of the UK. With sensible warm waterproof clothing, there really is no reason for the weather to get in the way of a child’s enjoyment of the outdoors.
Outdoor nurseries with their back-to-nature approach have become very popular in the last few years. The combination of child-lead learning and almost endless fresh air is seen as a refreshing alternative to more structured classroom learning. Outdoor nurseries aren’t for everyone, due to the often remote nature of their setting, some don’t have running water, may use composting toilets and rely on open fires for heat, but they also give children wonderful opportunities to explore, gain confidence and learn at their own pace.
If you are looking for an outdoor nursery for your child in this post we round up a selection of Scottish outdoor nurseries. Our full list of outdoor nurseries and pre-schools across the whole of the UK is available here and is being constantly updated.
Based in Elgin in Northern Scotland, Earthtime is an award-winning charity that runs a term-time nursery at Duffus Estate, 5 miles outside the town where they aim to have children outside 90% of the time. They also have an indoor space allowing for shelter and warmth on days when the weather is inclement.
Earthtime is accredited by the Forest School Association and aims to connect children and young people with the natural environment; using creative and woodland based activities to improve self-esteem, health, and well-being. The organisation also provide Forest School sessions for home education, school and nursery groups, and children with additional needs
Stramash Social Enterprise
Stramash is one of the best known outdoor nurseries in Scotland. They originally established a site in Oban in 2012, but the success of that has lead to three more locations in Elgin, Fort William & Tornagrain. As experienced outdoor nursery providers, Stramash also put together this useful resource answering many of the questions and concerns parents have about outdoor nurseries.
The Secret Garden Outdoor Nursery
The Secret Garden Outdoor Nursery was established by the late Cathy Bache in 2008 and was Scotland’s first-ever outdoor nursery. It is based in Letham Woods, a 25 acre woodland just outside Fife. For those interested in The Secret Garden’s pioneering approach to outdoor learning, they offer visitor days and workshops that provide an insight into this style of childcare.
A children’s nursery catering for pre-schoolers from 7 months. ONE has a woodland classroom 10 minutes walk from the nursery and also spend time in the local community. ONE is passionate about children learning through play and believes the best place for them to do this is outside. Unsurprisingly this nursery is very popular and has a waiting list for most days.
An outdoor nursery for children age 3 to 7 based in Maryculter woods near Milltimber, southwest of Aberdeen. Mucky Boots operates Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday during term times and they also run a parent and child group every other Friday morning as well as holiday clubs.
Haddo Woodland Kindergarten
Set in the beautiful grounds of The National Trust owned Haddo House near Aberdeen, this newly opened outdoor kindergarten is based around a specially constructed yurt and makes use of woodland near the visitor centre.
Kinder Croft CIC
A community interest group which runs a newly opened outdoor nursery near Ullapool in the Highlands, about 45 miles north-west of Inverness. They offer daycare for children age 3-5 at their site at Leckmelm Wood and put sustainability and environmental awareness at the heart of their outdoor learning methods. They also run sessions in the woods for adults who want to get back to nature.
Note : This post is an ever-updating list of outdoor nurseries in Scotland extracted from our directory of outdoor learning providers. The directory is free to join.