Children at Huckleberry Kids spend their days outside in the woods. (Courtesy Photo)

Children at Huckleberry Kids spend their days outside in the woods. (Courtesy Photo)

Outdoor preschool carries on in Cedarsong tradition

Young children are continuing to play and learn outdoors at the former home of Cedarsong Nature School, following the death last fall of Erin Kenny, the school’s founder.

Lori Lane Kimmel, who previously taught with Kenny and at other island preschools, is carrying the program forward through her school, Huckleberry Kids.

The school serves children 2 to 6 years old and follows the Cedarsong Way, an approach Kenny developed and became known for internationally. In the Cedarsong Way, children are immersed in nature, and there is a focus on compassion, inquiry-based teaching and child-led flow learning.

“Nature provides our curriculum,” Kimmel said.

Days include making mud pies, building forts and painting stones and tree stumps — and paying attention to what is happening in nature.

Safety is kept in mind, but children are allowed to take risks, exploring the world around them.

Kenny’s former neighbors now own the land and were supporters of the school. The current lease, Kimmel said, requires that the new school follow Kenny’s path and adhere to the Cedarsong Way.

Currently, the school is serving 13 children three days a week, but will expand to five days in the fall. It will also offer a summer program, called Huckleberry Forest Camp.

Before working for Kenny, Kimmel worked for Tressa Azpiri at the former Puddle Stompers preschool and then started her own preschool, also called Huckleberry Kids, which she ran for six years before moving to Hawaii.

In January of last year, once again living on the island, she began working for Kenny, initially as a substitute, and the position grew. She was a teacher for Kenny’s popular Camp Terra summer camps last year, she said, and worked at the school this past fall as well.

Huckleberry Kids welcomes typically developing children and those with special needs, including sensory processing disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as well as children on the autism spectrum.

Being outdoors and learning in the “Cedarsong Way” typically serves children well, according to Kimmel.

“They are really allowed to be themselves,” she said.

For more information about the school, email Kimmel at lori@huckleberry.earth.

— Susan Riemer

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