Tuesday, 18 September 2012

An {Outdoor} Education

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.

Just last week I was contacted by a representative from Project Wild Thing, letting me know about their ambitious plan to encourage the nation to inspire a love of nature in our future generations.

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. 


  1. My Ben goes to Forest School as we are lucky enough to live near a natural Habitat conservation place. They have a huge teepee built there and the kids make fairy dens, toast marshmallows, go pond dipping etc. It's great. And the place where it's held even do pizzas in a wood burning stove which is open at the weekends and you turn up in your wellies and chill. It's a great initiative.

    1. Wow - that sounds pretty amazing! Ollie's preschool has only just become a Forest School in the past year or so, so they're still developing their site, but I just love the whole idea of it. x

  2. We're lucky enough to live in the country, we're outside most of the time in all weathers mostly covered in mud. My littlest runs an imaginary farm (bless him) and his preschool is a forest school. (he sleeps in his wellies)

    1. I love the imaginary farm! That's so lovely. Children have such great imaginations don't they. Good to hear you're another Forest School fan too. I absolutely love the concept. Thanks for commenting xx

  3. What a lovely sounding preschool & fabulous initiative Anna. I am all for the great outdoors for growing bodies & minds, it's great for everyone actually. So pleased you're both settling into preschool so well. Gorgeous pics xo

  4. Forest school sounds so fab...I would love something like that here
    We're very outdoorsy too - when the weather suits!!

  5. Wow!
    My mouth was open reading about Forest School.
    I love it.

    It is so sad that our kids aren't getting out amongst it like we used to.
    The push for outdoor play and exploration is so important.
    Hey, for me too!
    :-) x

  6. Hello! Thanks for popping over to mine :).
    Forest school sounds AMAZING! Having a son who had only just turned 4 when he had to start school I would have loved this for him. Being outside is what he needs, loves and responds to. This would have helped him with his traditional classroom time so much.

  7. Finn went to forest school and his primary runs forest school sessions as part of the curriculum, it is fantastic. It is just a no brainier that it is so good for children to be outside and in the wild. Lovely post x

  8. Oh wow, this sounds so amazing!! How amazing is it that Ollie gets to have these kind of experiences. I hope something like this gets started near me at some point :)

  9. I have never heard of forest schools but they sound fantastic. I am glad your boy is enjoying the experience. My son just started nursery and he cries every time i drop him off, but I know he is fine and tells me he "loves nursery" afterwards. x

  10. Anna, thanks for your lovely comment on my blog. Nice to have discovered you too! Forest school sounds really interesting, I have never heard of it, but it sounds like a dream way to spend the learning years. Off to find out more! (like - do they have one for mums!)Jen x


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