Updated: Nov 3, 2019
We've been away for four weeks touring the UK and looking for inspiration for our environmental education and Forest School programmes back in Singapore. The UK is a wonderful place for research as it has such a rich history in outdoor and environmental education, starting with naturalists and philosophers such as Wordsworth and Baden Powell in the 1800s. In 1908, Margaret McMilan founded London's first outdoor nursery for slum children. In the 1930s Kurt Hahn founded Gordonstone School in Scotland which had a large emphasis on building character, partly through outdoor education, which eventually led to the creation of the Duke of Edinburgh award. In the 1990s Bridgewater Nursery introduced a largely outdoor, child-centred and play-based pedagogy, officially unveiling the first 'Forest School' and Forest Schools have grown rapidly in the UK ever since.
We found that the UK summer climate was ideal for days of outdoor exploration and the experts and authorities we met along the way displayed an enthusiastic, rather than restrictive, attitude towards children connecting with nature - we were even able to pick up and take away items from the Royal Kitchen Gardens during a tour of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew! The children undoubtedly learnt to value nature so much more by being able to taste, touch, and directly interact with (climb the trees for example) and use nature for play than they do by simply looking, listening and passing through.
Here's a few pictures from our trip which help to build a picture of how they do environmental education to the highest standard in the UK.
(1) Pick-your-own, a summertime favourite pastime in the New Forest (2) Nature inspired playground trails through the Forest (3) Bug hotels are everywhere, helping these little creatures who provide invaluable eco-systems services, to thrive (4) Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars devouring Groundsel in the forest (5) free to explore the forest without walls (6) Houses for Solitary Bees at Kew (7) The kids were especially excited to see real pumpkins growing after watching a Halloween episode of Peppa Pig! Thumbs up to Peppa creators for choosing a grow-your-own theme for Halloween rather than candy collecting (7) building a site for a Forest School (8) All you need are trees to create a challenging play area (9) Many many trees were climbed on our trip giving the children plenty of opportunities to build confidence, stamina and motor skills