Our environment plays a crucial role in the way Forest School is done, as it accounts for more than 50% of our “curriculum”. The environment is like a co-teacher to the dynamic experience of the Forest School groups.
In recent months, we have realised amongst the Forest School team and communities that there are several forms of energy that are at work within the environment. These forms of energy allow children to bond, lead, develop and heal.
We observed three kinds of energy spaces that occur during our Forest School sessions. There are probably more at work.
1. Circle Energy
This is a space where the participants have visibility of one other. They will be able to see, hear and observe each other doing anything. The space would usually be circular in the make-up. This space allows for the children and participants’ energy to circulate and connect with the environment and each other. In the circle energy, the group would usually slow down. Observations and Sense of Awareness will be heightened in this situation. We start to see cross interaction amongst children and participants. Eyes and ears will open up to more stimulants. Bugs and animals are more easily spotted at this moment in the space. We could spend the whole session (3 hours) in the circle energy spot. The participants would usually form closer bonds, and even develop projects and little pockets of game and learning from such energy dynamics. It is a good energy to start off for young / new Forest School participants.
2. Arrow Energy
This is a path space where participants will usually be embarking on a journey to a destination or exploring as they walk. This space would usually stretch the group out further than usual if the group is new to each other. The space allows for participants with strong and sometimes aggressive energy to channel them instead to lead and explore the land, and hence also their own inner thoughts and feelings. The arrow energy tends to have a more individual focus. Participants with leadership or responsibility tendencies would benefit greatly from being able to express the energy they have. Other participants will connect and build a strong sense of self and strength in the exploration and journey. In this space, we observe plenty of participants taking care of each other, waiting patiently for each other, understanding of depth and distance, following and leading. All these are possible because of the presence of the arrow energy in embarking on the journey. It helps to hone in on the participants’ energy when required. It is a good energy space for participants who have stronger personalities and plenty of energy to express, or a need to hone their focus.
3. Flowing Water / Air Energy
This is a space where participants will be able to feel the moving matter through their feet and along their skin. This space would usually be a space with constant moving water (aka river / streams). The participants would usually be wandering around the moving water, stepping in and out. Sand, soil and mud form the common foundation of the location. Participants will usually have a relaxing sensation in this space. It is the space for healing, and they are mostly just being in their own world initially. The flowing water carries with it energy that will dissipate within the nearby elements (animals, plants, rocks, soil). But at the same time, it will carry away energy from the nearby elements. This cycle provides a healing energy space for many participants. From sand throwing (they do it safely) to water splashing to castle building, participants express themselves in the flowing energy a lot better than in a hard-ground environment (as we are 70% made up of water). It is a good energy space for participants who need to release their energy or pent-up emotions and thoughts, or simply calm down in the flow of the stream.
The following energy spaces can be found together sometimes. The mix and proportionality has an effect on the brand of energy the location provides. When we follow the energy of our children in this location, we will be able to observe and notice the difference in the mix.
The beauty of Forest School and nature is not just in the knowledge and tranquillity it provides. It is also shown through the ways they could hone our development and self-realisation in life – how they guide us in our journey in life.