Tanya Bibikova, creator and head of Solnechnosadik, or “Sunny Kindergarten,” credits David Sobel’s Nature Preschools and Forest Kindergartens (Redleaf Press) as a great inspiration in the organizing of the outdoor preschool in mountain village at Crimea region. Bibikova spoke with Redleaf Press over email to share how the school is faring.
Solnechnosadik opened September 5th, 2016, and Bibikova happily reports, “It already feels like a lifetime of adventures.” They regularly have 3 to 5 kids, but occasionally their numbers will go up to 9 children plus a few parents on crowded days.
When asked about the most important benefits in nature kindergartens Bibikova says, “Long story short: kids are free and happy. They enjoy playing, running wild, climbing trees, observe home and wild animals and learn to respect them. They eat a lot and with great pleasure. And as the mother of two-year old, Yana, who visits our Solnechnosadik, I will say that the rest of the day is more structured, quieter and happier, than before.”
One common concern for outdoor schools is the shelter for extreme weather. Fortunately for Solnechnosadik they haven’t had to build any except for plastic tent they unroll for rains. “We are very lucky with the weather as it was only three days of rain in two months here at Solnechnoselie. The place is known for its great number of sunny days and almost no rain, which is bad for gardening and really good for us,” says Bibikova. They are currently making longer term plans including looking at a “Dubldom,” or small house.
Solnechnosadik has a tradition of serving fresh mint tea made of mint they gather with the children every day. “Some days we roast bread on fire or even cook a soup from fresh champions that grows in our apple garden,” shares Bibikova. Another favorite part of the children’s day includes Sunbeam—Sunny rabbit in Russian. “We have an animal totem—Sunbeam—who writes letters everyday for the kids,” explains Bibikova, and with a little help of the teachers the children will write letters back to Sunbeam at the end of the day about big things happened. “We have a special hole in tree trunk to exchange messages. Kids looove the letters and Sunbeam very much,” Bibikova explains.
We are incredibly grateful for Tanya Bibikova sharing Solnechnosadik’s story and photos with us, and thrilled to see David Sobel’s Nature Preschools and Forest Kindergartens put into practice. To learn more about Solnechnosadik you can visit them on Facebook and Instagram @solnechnoschool.