Dr Lomino in China: March 2
MARCH 2: Planting Time and Study Plots
Today in the Forest the children plant their nursery purchases in their garden plot. I’m anxious to see how these various species will fare and most importantly, how the children will respond to the successes and failures. Whatever happens, the children are getting their hands in the dirt—which makes me very happy. It is such an important part of the Forest Kindergarten philosophy and such an important step in the process of becoming stewards of the land.
Forest Teacher training today focuses on habitats. I ask the teachers to mark about a two-foot plot with sticks they gathered on the walk to our study area. I want them to study their plot in detail today, looking for every plant and creature they can find. I ask them to draw what they see and then describe their habitat. Our time is somewhat limited so I plan to continue this project during our next sessions. One of the problems with this activity is the lack of diversity in the forest site. Since it is located in the midst of a lychee tree orchard, the forest floor is covered with lychee tree leaves and little else. The plant growth along the trail is much more diverse, but too thick to easily maneuver. But even in the lychee grove the teachers manage to find areas with a few plants struggling to grow in the shade of the trees. I tell them that all of these lessons we are doing together can also be adapted for children, so if nothing else, this activity may give them some ideas of what they can do with the children here.
After school I conducted my second teacher training session focused on creativity—this time as it is connected to play. When the presentation was concluded I shared my recommendations for increasing creativity at NB Forest School. One of the strongest was to encourage teachers to stand back and let the children freely play. I told them that this is probably one of the hardest things to do as a trained teacher. We feel that we must be totally involved in teaching, directly interacting with our students. Becoming a facilitator is a complete shift in thinking. But it is essential for helping children become more creative. They need the freedom to use their imaginations and create their own learning. I’m hoping I will see this shift more and more at Forest School.
Today’s Insight: I am reminded every day how important it is to love one’s land. All of us, in every part of the world, take the earth’s gifts for granted. Our existence is dependent upon the air we breathe, the soil beneath our feet, an abundance of clean water and the sun’s energy. Without just one of these elements, we would not survive. And now, it seems, they are all in jeopardy. Our children must understand this. And they must develop a strong connection with the earth. They will not save what they don’t know and love.