IFSA Spring Webinars

Hi folks,

The IFSA series of webinars this Spring was truly lovely, with offerings from three incredible Forest School Leaders:

Storyteller, Wordsmith, goat herder, artist & Forest School facilitator Sean O’Laoghaire from Co. Kerry.

Weaver, storyteller, wisdom keeper & Forest School leader and trainer Carol Barrett of Down to Earth Galway.

Ancient wisdom and natural skills foraging with Lucy O’Hagan of Wild Awake and Phoenix Forest School.

Catch up on the videos here: https://irishforestschoolassociation.ie/ifsa-spring-series/

Nurture your nature with these free online resources

I found, while searching one of my first teacher/mentors’s website Jon Young’s 8 Shields, a link to the Children & Nature website. It’s been a while since I looked down this amazing online rabbit hole and the contents really are magic.

Check out this amazing school, the Watershed School, in the US and the resources to connect to nature at home they have made available to their kids during Covid times, truly inspiring:

For all sorts of ideas and fun ways to engage yourself and kids in the outdoors check out Children & Nature’s resource hub.

The Forest Schooled blog by Caylin Gans explores many aspects of the Forest School journey including her observations on Emotional Intelligence, Risk, Play, Well-being, Environment, Behaviour…the real meat of the Forest School experience. Enjoy her Forest School funnies (the things kids say at Forest School!).

I started to look for resources closer to home and here are some of my favourites but I bet I’m missing loads so please post below to share where you get your inspiration from…

LEAF Ireland have wonderful resources aimed at reconnecting students with our forests with plenty of resources to do with planting trees. I especially love their Choill Bheag initiative. Choill Bheag is a small, dense, biodiverse native woodland habitat on the school grounds. Choill Bheags are outdoor living classrooms, with space created for seating for classes to spend time learning outside.

The Woodland Trust has some great resources and activities for Children and Families, Trees for Schools for teachers.

The Outdoor Teacher has a free mini course with online teaching videos great for the coming Spring for all ages.

Notice Nature has links to activities for kids and youth of all ages focusing on learning about and helping biodiversity in Ireland.

I’m especially grateful for a link to resources with ways to approach anti-racism in the outdoors and outdoor learning in the Children & Nature site. These barriers to connection include to black, indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) and LGBTQ+ communities in the US. Anti-racism in the Outdoors: Resources related to inclusion, diversity, equity and access of black, indigenous and people of color in parks and greenspaces

As going on this journey into equity, inclusion and diversity in access to outdoor learning in Ireland I will share information I am gathering in it’s own post in due course.

If you have any links to great resources that can help us all go outside and enjoy time in nature please share with us!

Irish Training Treeific Team

Very excited to launch our 2021 Forest School Leader training courses for next year very soon. So privileged to do this work, especially with this amazing team, Lucy Bell of Growing Wild, Lucy O’Hagan of Wild Awake and me, Ciara Hinksman of Forest School Ireland.

We are associate trainers with the amazing Circle of Life Rediscovery, steered by our friend and lead-trainer, Marina Robb who’s incredible work has changed many lives for the better, from Mexico to China and these western isles. So grateful to help root this work into Irish soil with good folks.

My first blog

I’m here to share what I can from my Forest School journey, however that evolves as the inspiration takes me. Since 2008 I’ve traveled around the world to learn from mentors in the nature connection movement and would be honoured to share some of what I discovered in this blog.

I am delighted to be able to say that twelve years later, the island of Ireland has a thriving FS and nature connection movement which is connected to similar work around the world.

I’ve just been on a ‘re-storying’ online call with my good friends from the Nature Culture Network, which organises the Art of Mentoring workshops across the UK and Ireland. It was through the Art of Mentoring network that I first heard about Forest School, many of the nature connection mentors I met there also trained as FS leaders to be certified and linked in with a solid, well-respected movement, that responded really well to the world we live in. (Meaning, I can still have a lot of wholehearted fun in the woods and know I have all my risk assessments in place to protect me and the people in my care.)

The re-storying is important now more than ever with the urgency around advocating for social justice, diversity, whole-hearted living and to keep our natural world alive and thriving along with our shared human experiences, given real context in our lives.

For me, it’s about being with the kids at Forest School in a good way, having a culture of nature connection in our schools, parents and adult carers given time to be held by a village, elders and youngers know they are an intrinsic part of the wisdom of any culture where everyone knows their gift is seen and valued; it is holding with love the common human story and maybe then we can really heal the world.

This is a my first blog post and a vulnerable moment for me but I think I’ll opt to be brave and a bit messy, over being safe and silent.

Thanks for reading and I hope to connect with you in a good way again sometime.

Ciara