Dayguards’ “Forest Floor”

Dayguards (childcare workers) in Finland built a “forest floor” and changed children’s immune systems.


Within 30 days of playing in forest soil and leaf garbage, Finnish preschoolers had increased the number of T-cells and much more varied intestinal bacteria. In a fascinating experiment, Finnish researchers have recreated the environment on a forest base on the playgrounds of four urban day care homes. Understanding the importance of nature, they covered the playgrounds with forest soil, moss, meadow grass, dwarf moose, blueberries and raspberries and installed planting boxes for annual garden crops.


Dayguards instructed preschool-age children to play in the greenery and the soil for one and a half hours a day for a month. Their intestinal and skin microbes were analyzed before and after the experiment and compared with children from normal urban daycare centers with regular sterile playgrounds. After just 28 days, the diversity of their gut and skin bacteria increased dramatically, as well as their T-cell count and other important immune markers in the blood.


It supports the hypothesis about biodiversity and the concept that low biodiversity in the modern living environment can lead to an uneducated immune system and thus increase the incidence of immune-related diseases.


Who’s in Charge?


I discovered Maria Montessori’s approach to education while teaching in public schools. I was immediately drawn to the focus on individual empowerment of children, rather than the “be quiet, listen and learn what I have to teach you” approach. To be healthy, our society must enable – more than enable, require each citizen to be informed and to contribute to the good of the whole. Traditional schooling may lull us into depending on a leader (teacher – or premier, health advisor, minister) to make decisions for us. If this is healthy, then Communism and Fascism could be ideal governments! Our Constitution and Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees individual empowerment and freedom to think. Like our children, we want to be informed and responsible when making decisions. I’m grateful we have such extensive information at the click of a button, so that we can exercise this freedom and responsibility – especially when making decisions for our children. And so grateful you made the responsible decision to place your child in the care of such loving and empowering “Dayguards”.


Here’s to a happy and fun month of December, full of love and lights!