Wildschooling: Old Traditions for a New Nature-based Approach to Education


“More than a curriculum or framework, Wildschooling is a movement designed to honor and support our innate, inexorable bond with nature and lend a voice to our inner wild.” – Nicolette Sowder


When Nicolette Sowder, the founder of Wildschooling, began envisioning what she wanted her daughter’s preschool education to look like, she reflected on the first five years of her daughter’s life. This time had been full of her little one jumping through clover, climbing trees, and playing on Nicolette’s family farm near Cedar Springs, MI. These core memories formed the vision Nicolette and her husband set out to create for their child’s education – and to the founding of Wildschooling.

Now currying a 90,000-person following on Facebook with many around the globe instituting its practices, Wildschooling has become a time-tested new approach for parents who want their children’s education to be land and place-based. Sowder’s newly created education system is not untethered from well-established education principles – rather, it is firmly founded on the precepts of permaculture, indigenous practices, Charlotte Mason, and the Reggio Emilia Approach, to name a few.

The purpose of Wildschooling is to inform and guide education through the natural processes occurring in the world around us. A student’s classroom is the outdoors and their curriculum structure is created by their own life experience. To quote Sowder from her Opinion piece published in the New York Times, “Once you start approaching learning this way, you realize life is the curriculum … If the frogs are singing, we’ll learn about frogs.”[1] Sowder now teaches her two daughters and two nieces on her family farm.


While Wildschooling was primarily created with home educators in mind, Sowder is clear that the approach can be practiced to any degree and in any form. If you have a patch of grass, you can Wildschool! Interested in learning more? Check out Nicolette’s Wildschooling website for more information, resources, and newsletter subscription.


Our NJIN team is so excited that Sowder’s emphasis on the importance of nature-based learning is garnering attention. It’s clear that parents more and more are desiring their children’s education to be grounded on the land and connected to place. In the spirit of this pursuit, NJIN is excited to begin a learning collaboration with Cedar Hill Preparatory school located in Somerset, NJ. Students will enjoy field trips to our 50-acre farm which will provide the space and the land connection to help infuse students’ school education with nature-based learning.

We’re honored to be part of the cause in bringing out students’ inner wild!

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