Diving into outdoor education

50 Stories for 50 Years

is presented by New Leader Manufacturing

The Hall Family have been a part of Creekside Forest School since its first class in the fall of 2021. They have shared their thoughts on why they chose to enroll their daughter in Creekside Forest School’s pilot year, and how play-based nature education has impacted their entire family over the past two years.

When did you first become involved with Creekside Forest School?

We found out about Creekside Forest School (CFS) when a friend posted about it on Facebook. The Nature Center was going to host open houses in preparation for their pilot year, and our friend’s enthusiasm for the concept of the school got us interested as well. What really helped us decide Creekside Forest School was right for our daughter, were the philosophies they espoused as well as the fact that it was active and outdoors, which was important to us for the pandemic.

We had heard of the Nature Center before, but we had never been there or to any of their programs. The first time we went there was to meet the teachers before school started. The campus was impressive and welcoming – with the new facilities and variety of spaces, both indoors and out.

What is your family’s favorite memory from Creekside Forest School?

We arrived to pick our daughter up and were warned by a parent or teacher to brace ourselves. She was covered from head to toe in mud. She was proud of how muddy she was, and couldn’t wait to tell us about the mud slide they made.

One of the biggest challenges of sending a child to an outdoor preschool was taking care of all the gear and managing an incredibly messy child – muddy from head to foot, or soaking wet feet and legs from creek stomping too deep, or twigs and burs tangled in her hair. We knew there would be some messy adventures, but my child dove right in, often literally, like on the mudslide!

We also enjoyed volunteering and bringing our younger daughter along, and she learned to fit right in and loved being with the class.

How has sending your child to Creekside Forest School impacted your child and family?

For our daughter, we think she has gained confidence in herself and her abilities, and in trusting her body. She has grown in curiosity of the world around her. She has also learned how to be a member of a group and how to be a good friend.

Being a part of Creekside Forest School has helped our family be more active and learn about the world around us as well. We have attended additional programs and events at ICNC too, which we have enjoyed.

We both grew up in neighborhoods where the kids could just run around with neighbor friends, and we spent a lot of time climbing trees and exploring outdoor spaces. We love that our kids can learn to climb and explore outdoor spaces in a well-maintained environment, both with us and for school at CFS.

What makes you hopeful for the future of the environment?

This is a tough question. There are a lot of factors out of our control, on an individual level, and it’s hard to watch those in charge make impactful decisions for other than altruistic reasons. We can make small changes that have small, though not meaningless impacts, such as more natural lawn practices and composting more, and institutions like ICNC help people to better understand and then care more.

What does your family love about Indian Creek Nature Center and play-based nature education?

Creek stomping in Bena BrookThe brand new building and facilities provide nice spaces for preschool, meetings, bird-watching, and events. The outdoor spaces are well-maintained and include a variety of environments, such as forested hiking trails, prairie paths, water spaces for viewing or exploring, and child-centered play areas. They offer a variety of educational and recreational activities throughout the year for every age.

Our kids always love looking at the pond and finding the creatures hiding in and around it. They also love to play in Bena Brook, whether it’s full of water and flowing so they can stomp around or frozen so they can go ice skating.

In addition to keeping children active and moving their bodies, play-based nature education has helped our children learn valuable skills and information in a memorable way. They learn in-person and in real-time, which helps them understand and remember concepts. They can also bring those concepts home and be more active and curious at home as well.

Previous Post
Memories from an early Teacher-Naturalist
Next Post
Discovering a beautiful community

Related Posts

No results found.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.