“You pay to drop your child off at a forest?”
The words stuck with me for a moment or two and got me thinking..
You see, I’m a pretty big nature enthusiast myself and you don’t need to lecture me about the benefits of nature for both children and adults. But she had a point! My children are exposed to nature regularly through our own family adventures, so why pay to send him to ‘forest school’ which is really a program that prides itself on being anything but a ‘school’?
The reality is We Learn Naturally opened the door for me to learn about Self Directed Education. And yes, there are many beneficial reasons why I pay to drop my child off at a forest, into an environment where adults step back and trust the natural abilities of children.
While I’m growing as a parent and learning to trust my children’s innate ability to set their own learning path, it’s a learning curve for us all. And the reality is, as a parent I indirectly influence his play when we are together as hard as I try not to and therefore, influence his learning.
At Learning in the Woods the facilitators let the kids choose exactly how they want to spend their time in the forest. C often doesn’t want to participate in circle time where a group will convene, offer ideas, check in with feelings etc 2x a session and that’s okay.
C loves to run, and he is given the opportunity to run in the forest for as long as his little heart desires without mom saying ‘are you sure you don’t want to take a break?’
His curiosity runs wild at Learning in the Woods and when questions arise, facilitators are there to fuel the learning, to encourage the kids to come up with their own answers, to ask the questions to help them learn about the environment or item he has show interest in.
Some kids will sit and read the entire session because that’s what they choose to do.
Some kids will embrace their creative soul and work on art projects.
Some kids will climb trees, build forts, work with tools etc..
Some kids will ask big questions about animal carcasses, tracks, the environment and more.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. This is why I pay to drop my child off at a forest. I’m sure if I spent an entire session listening and watching the wonder of this program, the list would be endless. All of this PLUS the added benefit of being immersed in nature for an entire day. It’s magic!
And finally, a quick note about how C is able to transition into a traditional school environment. Just like when he was in daycare he understood that daycare has different rules and expectations than at home as he understands and appreciates the differences between JK/SK and forest school. (He is part time jk/sk.) You really can have the best of both worlds.
Brooke Beney is a parent and Founder of Brooke’s Home Care, a Recreational Therapy Organization dedicated to breaking down the barriers of disease and disability to get people back to the activities that bring them joy in life.