Ollie started pre-school last week. He was going to daycare three days a week in Australia, but almost five months at home with me has made us all feel like we are starting back at the beginning.
I was tearful, so was he. We talked a lot last week about why Mummies have to leave the children, why babies can’t go to pre-school and that Mummies will always come back. He’s getting there and we've had tear-less drop-offs since last Wednesday. I couldn’t be more proud.
Thankfully, even despite the tears, everyday I collect him to words of ‘it was brilliant’ and ‘I had a really great time’. And one thing I am certain about, is that he is at the best possible place for him right now.
You see, we have been lucky enough to secure a place at a Forest School, a relatively new initiative in the UK, which offers children the chance to learn in an outdoor environment. Forest Schools are all about getting back to nature, inspiring young children about the natural world and learning through outdoor play.
For Ollie this means twice a week he walks up to a mile, with a backpack on his back and walking boots on his feet (which are oh-so cute!), to a number of woodland sites. Here the children take part in activities such as fishing, den-building, natural craft and cooking over fires built together as a team.They eat lunch outdoors, talk about their surroundings and do all of this come rain or shine.
If you’ve been visiting green tea & toast for any length of time, you will probably have gathered that we are a fairly outdoorsy family. I was raised this way and intend to raise my children to feel the same. So you can only imagine how thrilled I am that Ollie is being given this opportunity at such a young age. I truly believe this type of learning will mean so much more to his exuberant, physical little body and brain, than some of the more traditional methods.
Interestingly, more and more across the UK I see glimpses of a movement towards getting kids outdoors. The National Trust is an amazing resource, of which we are proud members. Our local area is filled with fantastic outdoor forestry parks and gardens with inspiring play spaces for children of all ages. And a number of schools I have visited recently all have outdoor classrooms, organic vegetable gardens and ‘wild places’ where children can roam.
In partnership with Channel 4, the NHS and the National Trust, the Project Wild Thing team are producing a feature length film about our changing relationship with the natural world, in particular our children's lack of outdoor time. “Increased traffic, lack of space, fear of 'stranger danger' etc etc has all conspired against our children to the point where parents feel they are safer kept indoors, or kept on a tight leash. Fewer than 10% of children play in wild places, compared with 50% a generation ago.”
Which is pretty sad, when you think about it.
To get involved, all you have to do is hop online and sign a nature pledge. It’s that simple and, if you’re British, you will also be in with a chance to win a holiday. You can also watch a short video trailer about the project right here.
I really do think initiatives like this are such a good way to make people stop and think. Do your children enjoy being outside? Or do they fear mud and rain? Are iThings taking over your life and theirs? I know that even Lila’s little face lights up when she sees my iPhone, which is scary given she has only reached her very first annual milestone.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are your kids suffering from 'nature deficit disorder'? Or do you embrace being outside? Will you be making the pledge?
*This is not a sponsored post and I received no payment to include details of Project Wild Thing on my blog. I simply believe in their cause and want to help to spread the word.