What a wonderful couple of weeks it has been getting to know those who are new to the forest and seeing “veteran” forest kids in action. So much is happening in our little corners of the woods. The kids have been activating all of their senses…without even noticing! Perhaps you have seen how overwhelming sensory-rich environments can be indoors—loud music, visual clutter, etc. Compare that to the great outdoors, where kids have the wind on their faces, grasses tickling them as they walk, and the sounds of birds and airplanes (and shouting friends!). Not only that, they are walking on uneven terrain and leaping over holes and ditches, which requires a heightened body-awareness which just cannot be replicated indoors. Their muscles are working as they topple stumps to see the universe of creatures living under each one. They are problem-solving and using teamwork to build structures and toys from found items. The list goes on and on! Being outdoors for unstructured playtime is so beneficial for children. We are so happy to have you all along with us on this wonderful journey.
The first sessions of forest school are all about allowing the children space to explore their surroundings and develop a sense of their bodies within the space. Soon, the children will begin to engage more deeply with their environment. We are already seeing the kids discover their individual interests.
We are observing the different play styles that kids display at various ages and stages. Some of our older kids already know the land and were ready to jump right in. Our newbies are in a more cautious “watchful” stage—this is very natural and important as the kids process all the new sensory information around them. As we observe the kids, interesting topics will begin to take shape and we will begin to delve deeper into these subjects of interest. The fancy terminology for this teaching method is “emergent curriculum.” This means the adults take a supportive role in helping the kids pursue their passions, allowing time and space for lots of exploration and discovery.
The kids have enjoyed looking at the insects and other creepy crawlies we find. Crawdads were especially exciting. Are they fish? Big spiders? Lobsters? Bugs? The kids are asking and as adults our job is to listen to the questions. Later we will go into “stealth teacher” mode and lead them to discover the answers themselves!
We appreciate the mud, and we appreciate you all for allowing your kids to get dirty! It’s all part of the process—the ultimate sensory experience.
Have a fantastic week!