On the day that schools closed in March of 2020 due to the spread of the Corona Virus, in a split second, I decided to create a forest school. At that time, I did not know whether it would be possible for it to be for four children, or my one child. Yet I did know that there is a wonderful alternative to our public school that I could offer to my seven year old daughter. With so much uncertainty and change happening all around us, it was an inspiring and positive direction to put our energy.
For me, it is returning full circle to a outdoor education career that I have always loved. It is using the years of experience I have under my belt when faced with the temporary closure of my yoga, massage and coaching business. I am so grateful to have a second career as a teacher to fall back on! It has been fulfilling a dream that I have been contemplating for three years as a possibility. There may also be new opportunities in the future for overlap between my two businesses, and I will continue massage and coaching part time.
We spent the March Break reconfiguring our playroom, creating our school materials and visiting our forest sites. My daughter made waterproof journal covers, reading booklets, book bags, calendars and mailboxes...the creativity was endless. We named it the Moon Tree Forest. Having lived in the forest all her life, Kindrie has always been excited to see the moon sparkling through and over the trees.
We spent several weeks on our own, exploring and finding creatures, plants and signs of spring everywhere. It was a massive challenge because a school truly is a community. Without having other kids to learn with, no matter how exciting I tried to make it, this was isolation schooling. My daughter was not connecting with online learning. After about 4 weeks, we both really needed a few friends to join us! We opened our pod to a few other families with mutual consent of keeping our bubble small, and of supporting our children to socialize and learn through outdoor experiences. The kids flourished together, it brought new meaning and purpose to our weeks together and our ideas for school.
Enter Sarah Knight and her two boys, Ty and Kodiak! In May of 2020, Sarah and I realized that we were an incredible team and there was a really magical opportunity in front of us. We both felt that the silver lining of the pandemic was that we were spending valuable time with our children, connecting in new and meaningful ways and that our family dynamics were changing for the better. It also meant that this vision now had legs!
We have been working steadily on creating our school ever since - renovating an outbuilding on our property into an indoor classroom, creating policy, making risk assessments, brainstorming experiences for the children and so much more. It is a work in progress, and we are so grateful for the interest and willingness of families to join and support us to offer this forest learning adventure. We'd love to hear from you if this feels like a great fit for your family!