When I was a child...
I learned about the laws of physics and aerodynamics by making myself cardboard wings and jumping out of an avocado tree. I tried with an umbrella too after watching Mary Poppins. That didn’t work either.
I learned math by counting how many geckos eggs I could find tucked away in the corners of the windows.
I learned about biology by watching the mulberry tree put out bunches of flowers that bees would buzz around and over time would eventually turn into bright purple berries I would eat, staining my tongue and my fingers red.
I learned about human impact on the environment and pollution when sea turtles would wash up on shore with plastic wrapped around their heads. Or with deflated balloons caught in their throat.
That’s also when I learned I couldn’t just stand around and watch those things happen.
These are all lessons that are still important and relevant for all of us today.
And I didn’t learn any of them in a classroom.
I learned them in the spaces of time between school, in my backyard and out in my community. Through real experiences that built emotional connections and memories.
Today’s children don’t have the opportunities that I did.
Our education systems and home lives create a firm divide between us and the outdoors. We go from our houses to our cars or buses to school buildings and offices and barely look up from the screens of our phones to see a dandelion growing through the crack in the sidewalk.
And there are consequences to this. Access to and time in the outdoors is crucial to our individual and collective health and wellbeing, especially that of children. We know this now. The research backs it up. Children who grow up playing outdoors are healthier, happier, and more inclined to look after the natural world.
But our systems are lagging behind. There is lack of understanding and support for caregivers and educators to bring children outdoors to play and learn. In fact there are often huge, and systemic, barriers that prevent even those who are capable and want to.
But things are changing.
There is a growing movement across the world to create educational systems that are rooted in the outdoors, that consider wellbeing and actual learning over test scores.
There are thousands of educators out there seeking training, resources, and networks to support their vision to bring children outdoors.
There is momentum for change. I can see and feel it.
I’ve lived in quite a few places in my short life, from the tropics, to the deserts, to the mountains, to the valleys and forests, to urban centers. I know that the systems we operate in are created by our cultures. And I know we have the power to change and improve them, if we’re willing to try.
So, I’m putting out the invitation for others to join me in getting Forest Schooled.
(a Nature-rooted learning journey)
1. guided, challenged, humbled, and befriended by the features and forces of the natural world
2. inspired to embed connections to the more-than-human-world in my day-to-day life, continuously self-reflect, and adapt my practices to meet community needs over time
3. taught a lesson related to learning, the Land, and life (the hard way)
Join online workshops, professional learning communities, and access a variety of online learning resources that help us all work towards becoming Nature-rooted.
Join my inner circle, a virtual gathering space for community and connection! I consider members like tree rings closest to my core. I share everything I offer with members before I share it anywhere else.
Hi, I'm Caylin
I started Forest Schooled as a blog in 2016 while working towards my Forest School qualification in the UK. Then in 2017 I moved to the homeland of the Abenaki (which is also known to many as New Hampshire, USA); and then moved again in 2019 to the homeland of the Algonquin Nation (which is also known to many as Ottawa, Canada).
My blog is a collection of stories I've gathered along the way, and they demonstrate how my understanding of education rooted in Nature has adapted and changed with the places I've lived. I claim to be an "educator" but the reality is that whilst I'm busy "teaching" others, the children and the Land are just as busy teaching me. This is a place where I share the lessons I'm learning in the process and how, in essence, I'm getting "Forest Schooled".
After years of writing my blog, my focus turned to deepening professional learning and practice through reflection and community building, to enrich experiences and improve the quality of how and what we deliver through our programs. I make space in my work for Western science and Indigenous perspectives to move towards mutual understanding and restoration (or re-story-ation*) of our connections with the natural world.
In addition to developing and delivering programs, I also offer consultancy and mentorship to help those just getting started in outdoor and Nature-rooted programs, as well as experienced practitioners who want to deepen their practice, by offering my perspective and experience as a springboard for your learning journey. There's more about that on my Work With Me page.
Welcome! I'm glad you're here.
* "As Gary Nabhan has written, we can't meaningfully proceed with healing, with restoration, without "re-story-ation." In other words, our relationship with the land cannot heal until we hear its stories. But who will tell them?"
- Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass, p. 9
I really felt comfortable with this group of people. Caylin is so experienced and does so much research to prepare for any course that she runs. She's always available for support. The special guests were so valuable. I gained so much knowledge from all the resources, including everyone who participated.
Lisa Slater, Ontario CA
(Storytelling Professional Learning Community)