Can anyone else believe that we are halfway through the month of May? As we slip into the last month and a half of Forest School, I thought it would be helpful to provide everyone with a *Cheat Sheet* for really maximizing the time your kids have left. This list is by no means exhaustive and is not meant to replace the regular communication we receive through SeeSaw!
1. Remember the SPF -- tender skin can burn quickly! Even though we're in the middle of a somewhat-covered woods, the sun's rays are still powerful enough to penetrate clouds and forest tops. Even today, unprotected skin can burn within 14 minutes. Pack some sunscreen in their buckets and don't forget a lightweight hat.
2. Mosquitoes, Black Flies & Ticks, Oh MY! -- invest in a Bug Jacket with a proper protective, netted hood. You can purchase these at Canadian Tire in the Sporting Goods section or online at either MEC or Amazon. There is nothing worse than having to swat away pesky flies while trying to enjoy your end-of-day campfire sharing. Better the kids come prepared and remove the gear if the day is relatively bug-free than suffer unnecessarily!
3. Have your kids set an intention for their Forest School days -- speak with them about what they'd like to get out of their special day. For the older ones, is there something specific they might want to meditate on during the Sound Bath Meditation? Was there a project they had started that still spoke to them? (I'm thinking of that dear old, rotted stump the Treenagers were diligently trying to tear down... I wonder if it still stands?) Although setting an intention may sound silly when the flow of the day is already likely planned, getting your children used to the idea of expressing their hopes is a skill they will thank you for later on in life.
4. Hydration makes a huge difference! A no-brainer, but it's easy to forget to drink water when playing in the forest. Ensure your children have ample to keep hydrated.
5. "The Download" -- the best way to learn about Forest School is to hear about it through the lens of your child. Whether it's on the drive home, or later that day at the dinner table, be sure and ask open-ended questions to really get into their shoes and better understand how the day went. Asking, "So, how was Forest School today?" at my house results in a resounding (and typical), "Oh, it was good." I've learned to restructure my curiosity... questions like, "What part of Forest School was your favourite today?" followed up with a "Why was that?" lend the best results.
6. Practise the Breathing Techniques -- how lucky are our kids that they are learning self-regulation tricks this early? But these are skills that ought to be put into regular practise in order to become built-in as an automatic go-to coping mechanism when stressed.
7. Eyes / Ears Wide Open -- Sometimes we only see what we're used to seeing. It's the same with sound. We become accustomed to observe what is regular or recurring. Teach your children to seek out some new sights and sounds each time they go to Forest School. Last time I was there, I immediately picked up on the lovely, rhythmic battery of a woodpecker nearby. What else might they notice if they looked without any hindrance of expectation?
Perhaps you have your own insight to add to this list? We'd love to hear from you. Forest School is resonating on a multitude of levels with both parents and children alike; but communication is key. Let us know if your child has had a special experience they'd like to share; or if you've come up with some tools to help you stay organized and on-top-of all the goodness that Forest School has to offer. We want to hear from you!