YARN - From the (shorter) Oxford English Dictionary:

Spun fibre of cotton, silk, wool, or flax.... fibre prepared for use in weaving, knitting...a fisherman's net...any of the strands of which a rope is composed...a (usually long or rambling) story or tale, especially an implausible, fanciful, or incredible one.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Nature's Classroom

Let Nature be your teacher. 
William Wordsworth

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. 
Rachel Carson

What do parents owe their young that is more important than a warm and trusting connection to the Earth…?
Theodore Roszak, The Voice of the Earth

Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives.
Thomas Berry

Yes, yes, yes and yes!
So what is happening in education to support this?  What is a forest school?  How close is Waldorf to some of these initiatives?   Below are some of the things I found while sitting inside trolling around looking for exciting things happening outside. There are lots of exiting things, things that can and should act as encouragement for us to spend more time outside - during school and away from school. How can we argue with that?

The Coombes School was covered in The Globe and Mail, November 12, 2010 and the article tells us: "Studies suggest that interacting with nature can help children pay attention, motivate them to learn and improve both classroom behaviour and scores on standardized tests. Neuroscientists and psychologists are investigating why nature is good for young brains and how being around trees and shrubs helps recharge the circuitry that children use to focus on a page of fractions or a spelling test." All of this makes sense to me, I have not yet found the research papers, but would love to see them for confirmation of what I already believe to be true!

But what of the actual 'forest schools', what are they?
"A forest kindergarten is a type of preschool education for children between the ages of three and six that is held almost exclusively outdoors. " Forest Kindergarten, (wikipedia).  This article gives a bit out background and arguments in favour of Forest Schools. There are also links to some existing programmes in Scotland, England, Germany and Scandanavian countries.  It sounds like a lot of the things I value at our school, and makes me wonder if we could push the amount of outdoor time even more.

Closer to home, CBC profiles a Forest Pre-school on the Carp Ridge outside Ottawa, at the Carp Ridge Learning Centre.

Outside Thunder Bay is The Forest School:

I'm a teacher, get me OUTSIDE here! is a blog from the perspective of a teacher and outdoor education consultant.

Outdoor play and learning, an online resource about just that.

All of this makes me wonder how we, as a family,  can spend more time outdoors and can help the school to move more education outdoors, to expand our definition of classroom.  May an awareness of variety and options be the beginning of this discussion!

"Must we always teach our children with books? Let them look at the mountains and
the stars up above. Let them look at the beauty of the waters and the trees and
flowers on earth. They will then begin to think, and to think is the beginning of a real
David Polis

top of page quotes from Nature for Kids blog

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