American Forest Kindergarten Association…

One of the best parts about writing this blog – in addition to trying to capture the memories of this experience for my daughter to read about one day – is the wonderful like minded parents, educators and other interested parties that you meet along the way. I originally started this blog because well, I didn’t know much about forest school and so many people were asking questions off of our personal media, that I thought it would be helpful to share some of the experience.  It’s been so rewarding to find other individuals who feel the same way and who value keeping childhood as childhood for children.

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In addition to individuals, I also came across schools and networks as well.  And I’m proud to say that I’ve joined the board of the American Forest Kindergarten Association (AFKA) some months back.  Not only is it a group committed to making sure that others have access to the pedagogy and creative spirit of the forest kindergarten system, the mission, put forth by Erin Kenny (from the famous CedarSong Nature School, quite possibly THE original forest school/forest kindergarten in the US), also specifies that we share how to do it in a correct and safe way.  Part of my worry is that there is so much appetite for this wonderful way of learning, that it’s easy to overlook that unstructured learning time for children doesn’t mean that educators come in with an unstructured background.  In order to do this safely and with trust, there is a fair amount of preparation that goes into the making and training (and rewarding) of forest school educators.

I’ve been working with this group since the spring and excited for the many goals that we have on our plate.  The fellow members are inspiring, and also funny, and we all share a commitment to children’s learning in whatever format it happens.  But most of all, I’m exited to take back some of what I’ve learned, even if it’s just a little bit, to share at home.  There have been many great things about our time in Denmark, but as our time comes to a close, I realize more and more that it is the wonderful early education that we were able to give our daughter that rises to the top as what we will treasure the most.  So many people who have followed along on the blog or social media have wished they could do the same for their children and with the good work alongside AFKA, I hope that dream becomes more of a reality for parents going forward.

Image by Bench Accounting via Unsplash.

The Long Good-bye…

Long Goodbye-1I hinted at this a bit a little while ago, but we’re in the full swing of good-byes here.  And it hasn’t been easy.  This move is so different compared to the one we made when we first came here. As parents, we couldn’t have been more excited for the adventure.  But for our tot, at her age a move didn’t mean much.  Except a very long plane ride, and a new house… but the emotions related to change and ends and separation weren’t quite there yet.

This time, there are plenty of them.  At five, our tot has plenty of her own feelings about the upcoming move which involves a new house, a new school, a new nanny, a new just about everything…and it also involves a lot of questions people have for her about how she feels about going “home”.  Except for in her mind, her home is here.  Her house is here…Her life is here.

It’s been difficult, compounded by the fact that with this particular move we’ve signed up for the slow, regional train through the changes.  On one hand, it’s given us much more time to exit slowly, to enjoy all of our favorite things a while longer.  But as her forest school class has moved out to their summer school location (we go year round), and as friends tick off for vacation one by one, most not returning until after our departure, and as her favorite teachers do the same, it brings a lot of feelings regarding the change to the surface on almost a daily basis.  For her, and honestly, for me too.

We’ll get our adventures here on the page when we can…I think I might have underestimated how hard the good-byes might be for everyone.  But while there are a few tears, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t a lot of laughs and adventures and trips and friends and beach days…and perhaps one too many nights of “let’s have ice cream for dinner”… But we wouldn’t have it any other way.

She does love a good princess dress…

You know she really does love a good princess dress…despite the forest and the boots and the dirt and the bugs.  Which is why she couldn’t have been more excited a few weeks ago to attend a “princess party”, hosted by one of her classmates, last week to celebrate a birthday.Princess Birthday Party -2I wrote about uncanny marriage of the forest school persona and the princess before, but their peaceful coexistence continues.

I used to be afraid of the princess thing, thinking that even if we got too close to the glittered and sparkled tulle that it might catch on like a wildfire, or a virus.   But I have to say I wholeheartedly don’t mind anymore.  I even bought her this particular dress (and the wreath and the matching shoes to go with it). I’m an enabler now, I suppose…Princess Birthday Party -1And she’s not the only one… one of the things I’ve noticed is while the girls at the school love to get dirty, and throw sand, and make mud pies and play with dump trucks and you name it, there is still a bit of natural gravitation towards all things delicate and sparkly.  Not all of them, and not all the time.  And frankly, I’ve seen some of the boys run around with a head wreath on with the best of them too….it’s okay to make space for some of those feelings.  After all, who isn’t drawn in by a little bit of magic or a little bit of fairy tale ? I don’t think it’s sad that girls – or boys – want to be part of them…I think it’s sad when we stop believing in them altogether.