The School in the Forest

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‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ is a term coined by Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods. This is not a medical condition, but a description of the human costs of alienation from nature and the damage it does to children. In a world where the landscape is becoming increasingly urbanised and man-made, a school located in a forest may sound like a fairytale. Woodland Star International School is not only a school that follows the principles of Forest Schools, but is also located IN the 40-acre Brackenhurst Forest

How Nature Helps Children Learn

Without a doubt, our school enjoys one of the most beautiful, spacious and green campuses in Nairobi. Interactions with nature, the forest and the green spaces all around us are baked into our everyday curriculum.

Greater Good magazine published an article highlighting the Six Ways Nature Helps Children Learn“Nature improves children’s psychological and physical well-being and that can impact learning. But it also seems to affect how they attend to and engage in the classroom, how much they can concentrate, and how well they get along with teachers and peers.” Here are some of the ways nature can help children learn:

  1. Restores attention
  2. Relieves stress
  3. Helps children develop more self-discipline
  4. Outdoor instruction make students more engaged and interested
  5. May increase physical fitness
  6. May promote social connection and creativity

Non-Traditional Classroom Setting

Our unique forest environment, including an onsite agro-forestry project and seed bank, gives our students the opportunity to learn more deeply about nature and conservation, as the trees and vegetation provide a source-based learning experience that is difficult to replicate and often neglected in traditional classroom settings.

Woodland Star – ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ Antidote

The forest that surrounds our school has played a vital role in our curriculum development. Our students use weekly nature walks through our indigenous forest as part of their learning. Regular engagement with surrounding nature and exploration of our wide, open spaces is part and parcel of the school life of every child at Woodland Star. The environment and setting of our school is regularly mentioned by past students and their families as being a critical part of their educational experience. “WSS is a place of acceptance where all are valued for being unique individuals. Our children Ned and Hana became more empathic, caring and giving because of it. They climbed trees, played with mud, grew fruits and vegetables, built eco-friendly structures, explored the forest and released orphaned owls.”

If you want to find out more about the benefits of our school in the forest for your children, you can book a tour here: 

Peace Education: Possible and Crucial

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Woodland Star School’s Festival of Peace is a product of the inclusion of peace education into our evolving and innovative curriculum. It’s a full-day event, where the school’s students sing, act, drum and dance on a beautiful outdoor stage, all for the purpose of peace.

Peace education isn’t a new phenomenon. Created by Elie Pritz in 2013, it was a way for children affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to learn about peace, understanding and healing in an environment marked by violence. It aimed to introduce students to real-life heroes who prioritised peace above all, thus earning its name as the Peace Heroes curriculum.

This form of education has gained recognition around the globe and Woodland Star International School is one of a small number of schools selected to pilot the Peace Heroes curriculum in Africa. 

Woodland Star International School was recently featured in the Peace Heroes newsletter which stated: “We wish teachers and administrators around the world could visit this inspiring school to see that peace education is not irrelevant or idealistic. Peace education is possible and so crucial in this divided and fearful world. Woodland Star School proves that intentionally teaching kids peace instills students with compassion and empowers them to heal the brokenness around them. We can’t wait to see how these amazing young people change the world in years to come!” You can read the full article here.

We are proud that, through our peace heroes curriculum, we have been able to instill values of compassion and understanding in our students which they can use in the future to bring about change in the world. 

peace education

Family Art Night

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At Woodland Star, we strive to connect with each other, the community, our environment, and the world. We believe that learning happens best when the “puzzle pieces” of information and ideas are connected; we teach with an integrated method, so concepts are interwoven and make sense to the student.

Once a term we invite families to join us in doing something creative at Family Art Night. It gives us the opportunity to connect as a community and to enjoy and use our amazing natural environment to inspire our creativity.  

Events like these are part of Woodland Star’s innovative approach to learning. We strive to teach children in the ways that they learn best, utilising an innovative curriculum to relate lessons to the learner and including families to help discover and support each child’s passion, potential, and possibility.

Woodland Star Supports the Restoration of Brackenhurst Forest

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The Woodland Star campus is located in the incredible 40-acre Brackenhurst indigenous forest. Regeneration of the forest began in 2000 with the removal of most of the exotic trees and their replacement with indigenous trees. The forest currently boasts more than 1,500 species of indigenous plants: trees, climbers, shrubs, flowers, herbs, ferns, orchids and fungi that have been planted by students, staff and visitors.

Underlying our ethos at Woodland Star is the understanding that we are all a part of this ecosystem that we call the world. It is everyone’s responsibility to craft new ways of positively interacting with our environment for our combined sustainability. As a school, we must show children awareness in choosing actions that benefit our local and global community.

As such, support of the forest is an integral part of the school’s sustainability efforts. Our macro responsibility to the ecosystem starts with our micro responsibility to the Brackenhurst Forest. In addition to student-led initiatives such as campus tree-planting programs (our learners have planted thousands of trees!) and volunteering in the forest, a financial contribution from each student’s school fees is made towards the forest restoration efforts each year.

This year our contribution will exceed $12,000 and we look forward to raising more each year. As Woodland Star International School grows so does the impact we can have on our surroundings now and in the future.

If you are interested in joining our green community, or for more information about our forest restoration efforts, you can get in touch with us at: | +254 (0) 715 741 041

A thoroughly enjoyable day

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I had the pleasure of visiting Woodland Star International School from the 7th to the 14th of March 2022. This was in connection with a quality assurance evaluation that was conducted by the School from October 2021 until the end of March 2022.

Woodland Star is an amazing school that nestles in scenic and spacious grounds, surrounded by lovely forests. The various classrooms are spread out, leaving ample room for the children to play and to be outdoors. Individual classrooms are a delight and much thought has obviously been given to the needs of the children. Loft areas, patios and spaces for group work abound, making the classrooms very welcoming for all concerned. 

The organisational skills of all staff concerned are very apparent and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. The School Board is very well managed and supportive and is to be congratulated for its input over the years and for approving the going-ahead of the Woodland Star High School in the near future. The School Management Team, ably led by the Principal, Mr Timo Lehmann, operates well and the School certainly runs smoothly. The teaching members of staff are to be congratulated on the way they support each other and how they put the needs of the children to the fore. 

The atmosphere at Woodland Star is positive and welcoming. I look forward to hearing about future successes at the School and wish all concerned a bright and sustained future.

Thank you.
Derek Reynish

Festival of Peace

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At the Woodland Star School Festival of Peace, students traveled the world, using the elements and looking at belief systems through stories in their search for peace. On our forest stage, we drummed, sang, acted and danced as we explored what it means to be a global citizen longing and working for peace in our world today and for the future. We all at Woodland Star International School want peace for all of the children of the world now and forever!

For more information and to schedule your tour visit:

International School Fair

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The team from Woodland Star International School are looking forward to meeting you!  We will be attending the 7th International Schools Fair at Village Market’s food court on 25th March up to 27th March. Drop-in any time between 9:00 am to 6:00 pm and we will be delighted to tell you more about us. If these dates don’t work for you we can organise a school tour at any time – schedule here:

International School Fair

Wild Wednesday at Woodland Star International School

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At Woodland Star, we end every Wednesday with a Wild Wednesday.

“I like Wild Wednesday because it has a variety of activities.” – Liana.

During Wild Wednesday, the whole school gets together in one of our amazing nature spaces and one of our classes shares what they learned with the rest of the school in a fun, engaging and sometimes messy way.

This is one of the ways in which we build a community as our learners interact with one another across age groups and where we live out our values of connectedness, passion, innovation, environmental conservation and respect.

Wild Wednesday is just one of the opportunities at Woodland Star for every child to be, belong and become.

If you are interested in finding out more you can schedule a tour here.

Emphasising each child’s unique gifts

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“Our curriculum is the bridge between our vision and reality. Through child-centered teaching, we place emphasis on the unique gifts and challenges that each child has, highlighting the importance of growth mindsets as opposed to fixed mindsets.”

Washington Mito of recently published an article outlining the growth of Woodland Star International School since its beginning in August 2011 with just seventeen students.  “The combined efforts of the visionary team were like rain seeping down to awaken a long-buried seed.”  Read the full article here.

If you are interested in finding out more you can schedule a tour here.