Written by: Rachel Schwartzman, Director/Lead Teacher of Forest Days
Through a steady diet of asking the children, “What do you notice?” and “what do you wonder?,” the children’s perception of the environment and their role in it has dramatically changed in these 12 weeks. We have moved from utilizing the space as solely playground (which is also important and valuable), to engaging with all that we see through the eyes of curiosity.
We are forming habits of mind in the forest. Beyond the skills and facts that will surely accumulate, it is the orientation toward learning that we seek to cultivate most.Today, I had a long conversation with a child about a clump of soil with leaves stuck to it that he had picked up and brought to me. Unprompted, he stated his observations: “The ice is never melting,” and “There are leaves stuck to this.” We looked closely with a flashlight and a hand lens to try to figure out more. His genuine curiosity about this object he had found and chosen to pick up struck me. On another day, this would easily have been passed by, but today, he is paying closer attention to the environment. He is choosing his topics of research. He is growing knowledge that will be layered on in the weeks to come. His relationship to the forest is becoming one of interest, curiosity and engagement.