“Coach’s Interview”, is our coverage series for the people who takes the various session of Forest School Singapore. Like a little Diary of the different Forest School we have in FSS. You will get to hear the stories, motivation and visions of our lovely Coaches. This time we have,
Current: Alumni Team (2019 – Now)
Previous: Core Team (2017-18)
As a pre-school teacher based in Punggol, I started to be involved in Forest School in 2017, and I went for my Forest School Level 3 training last year. Integrating it into my work, I bring each class out monthly to Coney Island for a Forest School session. It is awesome, the kids love it and always look forward to it.
I make sure teachers are called “coaches” instead of “teachers” when we go into the sessions, so that teachers can “let go” more. Every trip is a different experience. I had a meeting with them and shared with them on the Forest School ways. We also discussed about what we “should do” and “should not do” as coaches. Basically, that of letting the child explore more in their own time and space. We also discussed about how Forest School is different from a typical pre-school. My school is supportive and knows the “risks” that children may take and we have gotten consent from all parents. I lead all the sessions and monitor the children’s and teachers’ growth as well.
After all sessions, we would discuss our observations and see how we as coaches can improve ourselves. And during each session, I guide the teachers by telling them my observations, such as asking them to see things from the children’s point of view. Because as adults, we tend to forget “how children are like”.
But at the same time, I respect that each adult has gone through different experiences.. Therefore, they have different styles of guiding children (eg. some things they are really uncomfortable with), so teachers are more “protective” of the children and might “restrict” children from doing some stuff, etc.
Due to planning schedules, we can only start small and take each class out once a month. But we do go outdoors daily, such as a neighborhood walk, garden, playground hunting, climbing stairs, sand play, waterplay, supermarket, walk to the bus interchange, watch vehicles go by the pavilion, running around, sports and stuff. For the older classes, we go to Waterway park as well. We would also walk under the drizzle, stomp on leaves, pick up and throw as though raining leaves. We also have inter-class outdoor social games and school-wide water-play days with planned water activities.
Q: What made you want to learn more about Forest School?
I like seeing how children can be themselves, not rushed, stressed, or pressured.. Therefore, I want to know “how it works” and how it can work in our Singapore setting.
Q: What changes have you noticed in your pre-school teaching?
Putting myself more into the shoes of children, thinking from their perspective, taking a step back and just observe them. Letting the children explore and solve issues/challenges they encounter first, and not being too quick to intervene. Most importantly, giving them time.
Q: Any one incident that stood out from your Forest School sessions with the kids?
There’s this 5-year old kiddo… he always screams and shouts in school.. behavioural issues.. When we went for our Forest School session, he did not have any behavioural issues at all, and he was totally enjoying the session. I think what made the difference was the four walls versus the space outdoors…
Q: One thing you’ve gained most from Forest School?
We need to give children their own personal space and time to grow. They are not robots.