The Legendary Thornbill Thursday

The cool wind of the monsoon season arrives. The forest school season ends for the year.

Through the many years in Singapore, the thornbill thursday have been a main stay in the forest school singapore community. Since January 2017, the thornbills have been around almost every week. They hold a special place in my heart for the journey that we took together as a class, a family, a community.

There were so many key moments of community impact/involvement and children development in this short 3 years.

The thursday fs session has been the most consistent session throughout. We started with a small group of 7. But grew to a size of 18 at some point in 2018.

2017 Thornbill Thursday on our return to Rifle Range Nature Park. Check out our lovely parents at the back with swag. Coach Rebecca and Shimin leading the briefing.

Rebecca, Miki, Daven and Ai Leen were the pillars of the session. Being around for the whole stretch. Their children were with us for all 3 years. An amazing feat in a fast pace changing world.

The thornbills were the only class to have gone into the woods to help tear down the physical  school “building” that we built in the woods in 2017. It was an emotional episode for all of us, as we rode through the phase of authority resistance together initially.

They were also the ones who stood up during one of our engagement in the boulder playground with park rangers in 2017. When 4 of them surrounded me to confront about our activities in the forest. The thornbill families, who during that time were coming along in session, came forward and spoke up. They assured the authority about our well-intention and their full commitment and approval to our children, nature and our community. A huge moment for me till date, as I struggle with my loneliness.

During Forest School Singapore infancy year, we had an episode when we were sabotage by an external personnel with our new location, and was informed to move location overnight within 12hours. I consulted a few of the thornbill parents, and we concur to move to macritchie reservoir, while we waited for response from relevant authority. They sat together for a discussion about our situation, and we brainstormed together as a community how to move ahead. It was such a dear and empowering moment to have such a poweful community presence.

2017 Thornbill Thursday, building their own little tippy tent at Macritchie Reservoir, one of our temporary site during our challenging phase of 2017

During these early year, our children were told the truth throughout the whole journey, they build an awareness of the world we live in, but also a sense of self-worth and confidence not seen in the usual setting. For we believe in their ability and wisdom. There many times when we consulted our thornbill kiddos about our decisions on continuity and how forest school singapore can evolve. Our children were as involve in developing Forest School in Singapore as they were in their play, learning and creation.

So much was ingrain in them, that our kiddos show one of the most amazing organic investigative work in the history of forest school.  (The Case of the Missing Crackers) It was a huge key milestone in the fs journey.

The courage, sincerity and set-backs in our journey has impacted our children in ways we can never imagine.

With the benchmark raised so high, persepctive change as we grow….




Our children in Thornbill, grew in leaps and bounds physically, mentally, spiritually.

The benefit of forest school and time in nature are boundless. Many research and studies have been done, and the knowledge and evidences are everywhere. But the stories we see in session absolutely blows our mind.

In one of our session, our children fought and resolve their conflict on their own, with the adults watching by the side, supporting in present only. They engage in fierce debates and argument, unleashed their array of opinions, empathy and firm stand. They are aware of their boundaries and stood firm on them.

2018 Thornbill Thursday, in one of their many explorational discussion in the session with Coach Shimin watching on.

We have special need children in our group, but non are treated specially. Everyone are treated with a balance presence and effort. Anyone who crosses safety boundaries are attended to in the same manner. Everyone opinion matter as long as they value their opinion. Respect was given and earn at the same time.

They develop their own little society and order that everyone consciously and subconsciously respect and adhere to. They are the future generation that will understand the world we live in, work with it, stand their ground and innovate for the betterment of the community.

There came a time, after experiencing all the huge array of development, we as adult expected more. And that was on our own account. Only when I step out and see other children in mainstream development, do i truely value the amazing community and development that our forest school children show. Not that anyone is bad or less of, but the awareness and motivation is starkly different. Their bandwidth for self-reflection, change and failure are far wider than even myself.

They were so outstanding, that almost all our media coverage and visitation over the past 3 years were placed on the thornbill thursday. Everyone who came to visit the Thornbill thursday left absolutely in awe. From journalist to lecturers to researchers to overseas educators.

2019 Thornbill Thursday, on their favourite climbing tree in Dairy Farm Nature Park’s Secret Garden.

And throughout these time, our community stayed humbled and authentic. Any issue were raised and put to discussion as we try our best to uphold in the world we are in.

All good thing has to come to an end, in 2019, with the Graduation of one of the first FS Thornbill, Amane. The stars aligned and the signs pointed.

At the end of 2019, with the final FS thornbill thursday session and the Graduation Camp, we close the the FS Thornbill Thursday for good. Many of the Thornbill that has been with us till now have decided to graduate.

There are so many more stories, childten, mummies, daddies, coaches, uncles and aunties that has contributed to the summation of this journey of FS Thornbill Thursday. So much that we wouldnt be able to include everyone. You know who you are. As long as you have been to the Thornbill Thursday session, you have left a footprint, no matter the size, in all our heart and in Forest School Singapore journey.




I, Darren Quek, would like to thank everyone for taking this journey with us bravely. Forest School was unknown and almost impossible to happen in Singapore. It was only because of the community together did we manage to come to this stage. A stage that will live for eternity. Thornbill Thursday will forever be etched in our heart. She will forever be the pioneer weekday session of Forest School Singapore. She will be the pillar behind all the nature forest school program in Singapore that has a value. The value of love.

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