It’s been one month since I began my journey at forest school, and I must say, it has been quite the adventure! Having worked in what many call “traditional” childcare settings, this was a new change for me. My days used to be filled with scripted activities and following the clock. At forest school, I have been able to be a part of an organic daily flow that allows children the time and space to explore their curiosities and inquiries on a time that works best for their learning journey. There are so many possibilities when children are given the time to engage all of their senses in outdoor spaces. Their senses are stimulated, they are tuned-in to the natural world around them, and they are so excited, curious, and engaged in the natural world that is right at their fingertips!
With minimum transitions, the children’s play is uninterrupted, which allows for a deeper connection to the materials and play that they are partaking in. Together we climb on logs and discover a family of pill bugs. The children’s eyes light up with excitement and curiosity. The climbing is forgotten for now, and the pill bugs have taken the spotlight. They watch them closely as they scurry into different holes in the log and roll up into tiny balls. The children ask where they have gone and wonder if maybe this is their “home”. How fascinating that this log they love to climb is also loved by these tiny creatures who call it home! But it’s rainy, and the children are worried these bug friends will get wet, saying “oh no! Bug get wet! I help!” Without even knowing it, they have developed a sense of empathy for these tiny creatures and want them stay dry. They begin looking through the forest, collecting leaves, twigs, and woodchips to build a shelter for their new bug friends. Their focus deepens as they construct mini shelters to keep the bugs dry.
This one small moment has allowed children to become invested in their learning without even realizing it is happening. They have discovered where pill bugs live, how to be resourceful and collect materials needed to build, they have learned to brainstorm, work as a team, make plans, and put those plans into action, and even how to construct shelters. They have become empathetic to their new bug friends and want to help where they can.They have formed a relationship and connection to the bugs, natural materials, the forest, and the land itself. Most of all, a spark has been lit, one in which they are excited and curious to learn more and be a part of nature together. The day flows, we learn together, play together, and be a part of nature together. Their play is not interrupted, but instead encouraged, extended, and supported. I can’t wait to see what the next month brings!
Stay curious my friends!