A Forest School Singapore Visit

By : Ayden Ng (Visited in 2022)

It has been such a wonderful experience, something that will leave a mark in my life. I came with an intention to observe, but I brought back something more precious. 

Sharing a glimpse from my perspective.  

At the start of the session as we gather at the meeting point. I was greeted by Coach Dean and Coach Lenora. I was feeling a bit daunting at first on what to do, and Coach Adeline introduced some of the kids that arrived early – N, I, KX, RZ, E and K. I tried to remember most of their names. We proceed into the path where they decide the location for the day and Coach Dean tries to convey to the kids that she had injured her ankle while looking at her phone, and try to let them know that she cannot go to places like mountain kitchen. After much debate, they decided to go to a wet quarry with one condition – that there should not be any feeding to the fishes there. I believe it is M that said this. King C reluctantly agrees and they embark on the path towards the Wet quarry. The larger group of kids – King C, MW, T, E, NH, KX and some that I can’t remember their names.  At midpoint, the group were walking too fast and Coach Dean was behind with the younger kids, so I caught up to the larger group ahead and saw Noal isolated from the group with KX trying to hit him when he got too close. NH was frustrated and was shouting repeatedly – give me a reason why you want to hit me. I walk closer to NH with a few thoughts running in my head, should I intervene and stop the behavior or  just observe it from a distance. I took the 3rd option, instead of intervening externally, I went to ask Noah, what do you think KX is doing, does he really want to hit you or is he playing with you. Do you notice that he is still keeping distance between you and ensuring that you are still within sight?. NH replied I know, but I still want to know why he wants to hit me. I ask again, do you think he is trying to play with you? Do you want to ask him? He takes a pause and carries on walking and asks what do you want from me, why do you want to hit me, can you give me a reason why. KX ignored and continued walking up to the Wet quarry. Once I arrived, I saw the kids were happily settled down, having their snacks and I saw CS The little boy with the bucket hat ran up to the platform and started to pretend to feed. I asked him – do you know you are not allowed to feed? He said yes. but I was feeding the fish with rocks, not my snacks. After a few rounds of tossing, King C came and said no feeding. I’m quite surprised that he walked up and said this, as he is one of the boys that reluctantly agrees to the rule. CS replied i know I was playing!

The kids carried on with their play and I just stood there enjoying the serenity that the place gives. and boy am i lucky, i saw a sea eagle couple flying pass, lucky x 2 when i spotted 2 greater racket-tailed drongo < i googled the name :p and a monitor lizard swimming casually. 

The last team to arrive – Coach Adeline and her little gatherers. They started to settle down and pour out the little trinket of the forest. Sitting in a circle, they organize their stuff and K and E start to tie knots to the purple vines and Coach Adeline encourages them to make a bigger circle, so all of us can sit in it. There was this yam plant that was passed around and eventually was requested to be diced into smaller pieces, the kids started to peel the stem off and they tried to decorate the vine with the curly outer skin of the yam stem, and that was when TM felt discomfort on his hands. Coach Adeline quickly asked Tim to wash his hands and not to scratch as it will make the skin more irritated. I took my water and helped TM wash his hands, and also asked the rest of the kids that had touched the stem to wash as well. That reminds me to bring a bigger bottle next time. Coach Adeline tries to calm him down as he is on the verge of crying and constantly scratching his finger. She quickly hold on to his hand and check if anything is off and observed that one hand has more redness and all she did was to hold his hand, and tries to distract him by blowing to his hand, constantly encourage him that it is going to be fine, while he kept saying he wants to call his mum. A few minutes later, his hands were no longer painful and I ran out of water, Coach Adeline called his mum and updated her with the situation and upon hearing his mum’s voice, TM felt better and was looking forward to seeing her after the session ended. Every Coach will have their own way of handling this situation and I am glad that I get to observe first hand on how Coach Adeline approaches it in her way and I will definitely keep this in mind whenever a situation like this arises – check, assure, observe, distract and feedback. King C informed everyone the time to leave and make sure we leave on time. We clean up the areas and proceed to the gathering point in batches. 

On my way to the gathering spot I saw a straw-headed bulbul ! and stepped on 2 wild boar pooplet. I was the last one to arrive and they started on what they like and dislike today. I’m really grateful for the experience I had today. Learning first hand on how to encourage kids in terms of social interaction. Debating and coming into agreement with and respecting the rules that come with it. 

Thank you Coach Dean for your warmest welcome, I get to observe how you voice out your discomfort and give the kids a chance to understand and practice empathy.    

Thank you Coach Lenora for showing me how you express yourself on managing the situation on how they should not be causing harm to each other. and also for showing me the place to refill my water bottle.

Thank you Coach Adeline, for giving me the opportunity to observe, to navigate, to feel and to better understand the kids with their individual needs and to have trust in me.

Forest School has always been and always will be a special place in my heart, where the magic happens. A place of self exploration, Self growth and engaging in the natural way. A place for people who want to move from the first mountain to the second mountain. Taking reference from the book I’m currently reading, The Second Mountain by David Brooks.  

I’m glad I found my tribe, I’m glad we met, I’m glad we stayed. 

Looking forward to seeing you all again!

Written and Perceived by: Ayden Ng

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