Komorebi Post– It’s the start of the school year in Australia. All around the country families are getting ready for the big day when the summer holidays come to an end and life goes back to a routine. Stationary lists have been collected and labelled, uniforms set aside, and lunches planned. For most of these children, education takes the form of a government or public school. Wealthier families may choose one of many private schools, usually with strong religious affiliations. But for a growing number of children education takes a different form, such as homeschooling.
In Queensland the second largest state, the number of children being homeschooled has tripled in the last five years, from 1108 in 2013 to 3232 last year. While this still represents only a small number of students, those that are homeschooled are certainly enjoying a growing number of available learning experiences and additional time for free play. The traditional school system doesn’t allow children for free play time, which is according to the American Academy of Paediatrics is essential to developing cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being later in life. unconventional learning has opened a world of opportunities for business. Catering for pre-schoolers and home-schooling families and offering them a chance to spend time in nature developing self-confidence, resilience and a host of practical skills.
Children at forest school are encouraged to explore and have adventures in nature’s playground. Photo credit: Michelle Leech
The site is an enchanting forest with a sparkling creek running through it. There are trees to climb, mud slides to slip down and balancing beams for developing agility. Passionate educators Nicki Farrell and Vicci Oliver light up when spending time with the young people who attend. They express how important it is to give children the chance to engage with nature and learn to love and care for it. They believe that children have the right to childhood adventures and ‘risky’ play activities, so students at forest school learn how to start and cook on fires and use tools such as saws and drills in construction activities. School holiday activities give children at conventional schools the opportunity to experience these learning opportunities too.