Unfortunately, we won't be continuing with the forest school. After a few sessions, it was clear this wasn't what we were looking for. The summer break was also about to start, so there was a graceful exit, without the need to make it clear we aren't going back.
The main reasons are:
- it wasn't an actual forest school, but rather a playgroup that happens to be in the forest
- While the sessions follow the classic (circle time - activity - snack - free time), the execution also seemed poor, with little preparation and engagement
- The children were being labelled, including our own, and treated accordingly. I strongly disagree with that perspective, no matter how easy it is to fall into it
- One of our kids clearly didn't like it there, being more and more expressive about it with each session
- I found very little openness from the guides to receive feedback. We all seemed to agree on the abstract level, and all the important keywords were being used (respect, independence, etc.). In practice, however, things were quite different
- Perhaps as a consequence of the latter, I found there was an arrogance, a position of belief they knew better than the parents, disguised as fake humility. This resulted in a clear lack of trust on my side
- This was not the best format for what we really wanted: giving our kids the opportunity to build social connections and have a good time with other children
There were some positive things we got from this trial. The kids got to discover a new place, and spend time in a different outdoor space. The place is gorgeous, and we look forwards to exploring more of it.
As a family, we got to experiment a bit with the daily routines, During this period, we would eat and nap later, or not sleep at all. It was great to find out we are all more flexible than we gave ourselves credit for.
Finally, it was a good reminder that we really can't judge a book by its cover. I should have spent more time beforehand, getting to know the teachers/guides. It is hard to learn more without being able to observe, so trusting my instincts during the initial conversations would have been useful. In the end, we all really wanted to it to work, so we gave it a try. It didn't, so we will move on to something else.