Its hard to believe that 10 months have passed with the Le Cheile crew. It has been such a wonderful experience for me to be part of such an inspiring parents led initiative. I have been the main facilitator for the sessions but that is only a small part of what has been going on. At every session there is a parent there to assist me as well as others behind the scene coordinating, fundraising and developing the space. The third hour of the session is what we call “cabin time ” which we parents rotate and offer the children some of our interests and skills. These have included yoga, movement, archaeology, stories, gardening, bird calling and lots more.
It has been wonderful to observe the confidence of the children growing as the seasons pass. They are much more confident in both their outdoor space and their own bodies. I watch them climb, balance and play through the now very lush fern and foxglove woodlands confident in their ways. They are learning how to voice what they like and don’t like to their peers and figuring out how to play in cooperation. Yes they all still cry when things are too much or the weather too extreme and don’t always understand that what is ok for them is not always ok for others. I love the uniqueness they each bring and admire the kindness, bravery, communication skills and creativity they bring with them through each day.
Working as part of a collective has helped inform my practice. By sharing different perspectives and reflecting on best practice and being open to try new things we have found a very safe place for our children to grow. There was a question around how we ask children to take part in activities. It was clear that some children did not want to respond to any adult lead suggestions and others were eager and others wanted to do the activity but just needed a little encouragement . I now call the group together to listen to what the activity of the day is. Then they can choose if they want to take part or not. More often or not one or two children might get stuck into the activity with me straight away and the others come back to join us when they want to get involved. The bird watching hideout is a great example of that. First it was only one, then two and then before the day was out the whole group were working together lost in their own world of creativity and play.
Bealtaine, the festival of flowers was marked through story and may pole streamers. . Using a Japanese technique called HapeZome we hammered ourselves beautiful colourful bunting.
With the war on plastic in the publics eye and summer in full swing, it was great to show the kids how to make their own bubble wands. We used young willow, dogwood, ivy branches and some long grasses to make some natural bubble wands. This recipe guide for bubble mixture worked out pretty good each time. 10 cup water, 3 cup washing liquid and 3 tablespoons honey
We told many stories, made shadow puppets, clay creatures, stick mobiles, a sun clock and telephones using old cans and string. We hid treasures and made maps. The warm weather inspired sit spots, sense meditation, painting, nature palettes and delicious elderflower cordial. We build tiny worlds for tiny toys and the children spent hours with their friends using their imaginations and following their curiosities. Looking forward to our regrouping in September.
Written by Niamh Geoghegan Co-ordinator and co-founder at Mucky Boots Forest School