Aiden just started forest school three weeks ago. It is actually nursery as he is 3.5 years old but it is called a forest school. It is the first time he has been left with strangers ever. Pretty much as soon as he was born I decided he would not go to nursery or a childminder until he was at least three years old. Actually I think I most likely wouldn’t have sent him to a normal nursery at all and kept him at home until school, it was just I had heard so many absolutely wonderful accounts of educating children outdoors. I knew in the UK a forest nursery would be the only option to experience this as “normal” primary and secondary schools seem to be the only option later on. So Aiden goes to forest school three mornings a week for three hours and whilst I miss him dreadfully, it is actually wonderful for him, wonderful for me, and wonderful for his wee sister. So I thought I would write a few things down about how “non mainstrain” education might actually be the right choice for your child and how sometimes it really is better to have a quick step back and not just do what is expected when it comes to the education your kid’s recieve.
I absolutely LOVED school as a kid. I loved primary school and secondary school and college. I loved University so much I went three times and have two Master’s (I might even go back and get that third one soon…) All my schooling was “traditional” so why then do I worry about how my kids will be educated? Well see the world has moved on since when I was a kid. Children definitely grow up fast and face a lot more social pressures that we did. I was bullied at school but I was so damn stubborn that even though it really upset me I refused to let it show and I always grassed the bullies in to the teacher (this may have been why they hated me but I didn’t care because I just wanted to listen to my History teacher or paint my art project) My parents always instilled in me the notion that to recieve an education is an absolute privilege. Not everyone gets the chance to have that access to knowledge and learning and you should embrace every last bit you find interesting and respect the power of even the bits that you find dull or hard. I was lucky then because the school system suited me perfectly. I wanted to learn, I worked hard and I relished the structure of it all. I was however also aware of the stress things like exams can cause and observed how other children simply did not want to learn the way the teacher was teaching. As a parent now I hope my kid’s have my natural desire to learn but I will also do as much as I can to ensure they are simply comfortable and happy in their school environments to allow this to happen. Here are some things I’ll be considering with my two:
- I’m half German and the school system over there is completely different to ours. So much so my Mum was constantly at odds with my British teachers and their “mad” ways. In Germany kid’s don’t start school untill they are 6 years old as opposed to as young as 4 here. I will definitely be considering keeping the kid’s back a year although fortunately they will both be one of the oldest in their years in the Scottish system anyway so I might not have to.
- Finnish schools are considered the best in the world and they have no grading for the first three years and no national tests untill the twelfth year. Students state they feel a lot less pressure!
- Dutch children are apparently the happiest students. In the Netherlands children don’t get much home until secondary school so they have plenty of time to play and enjoy home life.
Did you enjoy school? Do your children like it? What do you worry about with their education?