Testimonials from Our Parents
(Updated in SEPTEMBER 2023)
Testimonials from Our Weekly Parents (Updated in JUNE 2023)
Terence, Father of Thaddy, Aloise & Tobias (2016 – now)
“My wife Annabel and I have known Coach Darren for 2 years and we have entrusted him to bring our son Thaddeus, together with many of his young buddies into the forest. Living in urbanized Singapore, apart from having had to “chiong sua” in army, many people’s childhoods are not spent in the forest. No one can deny the beauty of the forest – the smell of the rain hitting the soil, the warm rays of the sun on your face, the trees that grow majestically towards the sun and the many animals scurrying by to say hello. In recent years in Singapore, there are many programmes directly linked to curriculum, including outdoor class field trips to the many gardens all around Singapore or the different pathways and nature reserves. But here is where Forest School Singapore (FSS) is different.
The Forest School Approach strives for something more, a lasting relationship with nature.. In FSS case, this means repeated revisits to the Boulder Park or the Water Stream. The reason in constantly going to similar locations is the hope the children and the adults who accompany them, will form a relationship with and connection to the land. This doesn’t happen overnight. Every new trip to these spaces brings new experiences, some experiences fresh and brand new, others a reinforcement of a previous day. I fondly remember my 4 year old Son recalling animatedly different walks in the Water stream. Some days it’s dry and arid and he traipses through the stream looking proudly at the tall trees on a sunny day; while on rainier days with huge downpours, the stream is filled knee deep and he recollects trudging through it, carefully watching his steps while gently caressing the vines, roots and stems of the trees and foliage. ” It is a delight when any child says, “Wow, how hard it was to climb that tree last week.” And “Hey, it’s so much easier now.” The lay of the land is the same, yet it is different.
When a relationship and affinity is forged with our natural environment, wouldn’t it be inspiring to be able to hear people in our community say at the start of a new day, “wow I can’t wait to be back tomorrow in the same environment but relieving new experiences”. The forest now isn’t just a place where the wild distant trees go. It is the children’s play land. They have a relationship with it.
At the start of every FSS day, Coaches respectfully lets the children decide unanimously on the itinerary for the day, not pushy but patiently waiting and letting the children make their choice, the choice that will set the ebb and flow of the day’s course. The children decide and it is a natural and equitable alliance formed between children and adults, nature and humans.
To these children, the land is no longer just a casual walk in the park and they will treat the flora and fauna with respect. The forest is their home away from home, their enclave and safe refuge. They chose and that’s why it will matter to them.”
Weishun, Mother of John Luke & Ethan Mark (2021 – 2023)
Among the many enrichment programmes, my children have attended, FS programmes remain the only one I recommend without reservation to every parent I encounter. The programmes not only provide for a child’s holistic development; the child-centred philosophy means each child grows at his or her own pace and way.
Initially, I was concerned about whether Ethan Mark could keep up with the Bulbul senior class, and would question John Luke (his elder brother) if he was watching over and helping him every week. In hindsight, Ethan Mark wasn’t John Luke’s burden to bear. As much as they are brothers, I am thankful the coaches encouraged Ethan Mark to be independent and they each have found their own pace and friends in the group.
Practically every week, John Luke would think about what he would want to do and possibly bring a tool to the next FS session. He has brought his Swiss Army knife a few times and shown much eagerness with regards to skills involving camp craft.
We are grateful for the safe environment provided for Ethan Mark to grow in gross motor skills and sensory exploration. He especially enjoys getting wet and dirty, and can even be oblivious to insects crawling over him, but is learning to be more aware of his environment.
Alvin, Father of Zachary (Sparrow, 2019 – 2022)
Last Saturday, 28th May 2022, marked the final session at Forest School for my son, Zachary Song, having first experienced Nature’s delight during a one-day holiday programme in Dec 2019. You see, Zachary loves the comfort of his home, is abit of a dreamer, and possess a strong aversion to risk taking. Sports activities such as swimming and football did not resonate with him given the inherent competitive and risk-taking expectations.
Hence, I thought a self-paced, nature-based outdoor activity would be helpful in balancing out his homely inclinations. I wanted Zachary to be able to spend time in nature, to be with forested elements, to be able to be his own in a non-urban, safe exploratory environment, where rules serve as guide ropes and coaches allow each kid to develop his/her personal journey and to gain an appreciation of that experience.
It was with delight that we found out about the Forest School programme. We signed Zachary up for the one-day holiday programme in December 2019. It turned out to be an absolutely mind-blowing experience for Zachary. It was raining heavily, the kids were soaked in rain and mud, but he was “free”.
There is something special about kids being able to play unhindered in the rain, without a care in the world. The parents were not there, so there wasn’t a constant narration of well-meaning instructions designed to bring each child back into the realm of risk aversion. Clearly, Zachary was elated with that experience.
It was the start of a transformative journey for Zachary. The Forest School experience was instrumental in his growing up through upper primary years. There was much to play and learn amongst the woods and the greens. He got more confident, was more willing to take more risks, and his social and environmental awareness has developed well.
Much credit goes to his marvelous Coaches, without whom, these delightful experiences would not have been possible. It is always challenging having to coach a group of kids in open play with public space. Their passion, dedication, and desire for the kids to develop through the Forest School experiential journey sets this breed of Coaches apart.
A special call out to Coaches Huda, Zi Yun and Huan Ting. Zachary have been with Coach Huda since the 2019 holiday programme, and he has benefited so much from his time with her. Thank you for starting him out on a good path. Coach Zi Yun was also coaching Zachary for some time. We thank him for your patience, guidance and ensuring road safety for kids in their journey. Zachary calls Coach Huan Ting “the honest one”. We appreciate her thoughtful coaching and sharing of insights on Zachary.
To close off, we wish you the very best and hope that the Forest School can continue with its good work in facilitating essential immersive learning in a natural environment for kids here in Singapore. Well Done and Take Care!
Testimonials from our Camp Parents (Updated in SEPTEMBER 2023)
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