Grow with new Wild Seeds forest school
The people behind Imaginarium Adventures in Art are excited to be launching a new forest school in Creemore this fall.
Ayrlie MacEachern has been involved with Imaginarium Adventures in Art since its inception. Sarah Moylett joined as a facilitator-in-training when she moved to Creemore at the age of 17. Now the two are collaborating on Wild Seeds – Learn with Nature, a child led, nature based program for children age three and up.
MacEachern says the goal is to allow youth to explore and learn from nature and each other. The program will be housed at a farm on the Mad River in Creemore and will focus on outdoor skills development, physical activity, stamina and coordination. The goal is to raise children who are physically and emotionally resilient. Initially, programming will be offered Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Moylett says that children who are home schooled or unschooled could conceivably be enrolled for three days a week. Parents of children who are part of the traditional school system might elect to take their kids out of school one day per week to broaden their educational experience.
There will be a maximum of five children per facilitator, with an emphasis on non-attachment and understanding how we impact our environment inspired by the ephemeral art of Andy Goldworthy. Children may spend the morning constructing a fabulous tableau of fallen leaves and then have it all disappear in a puff of wind.
Each day’s agenda will be child-driven. One child may be interested in counting the apples that have fallen overnight. Another may wish to pitch the apples at a target. Both will be encouraged. Moylett, who is in her final year of studies for an Early Childhood Education (ECE) diploma says during the pandemic, many children had an excess of screen time as busy parents tried to juggle working from home and home schooling their kids. As a result, there was a lot of overstimulation and fewer opportunities to explore and learn. That is now showing up as an increase in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and behavioural problems. The goal of forest schools is to provide a safe space to express and be creative. For that reason the forest school will be completely screen- and device-free.
In the past, many school boards operated outdoor education centres but MacEachern says these fell by the wayside during cost cutting in the Mike Harris era. Now private forest schools like the ones in Collingwood, Wasaga Beach and Heathcote are moving to fill the void. She says the cost of their program will be comparable to daycare, and in an effort to keep it accessible to everyone in the community they will have a sliding fee scale and will be fundraising to create bursaries.
Initially, the Wild Seeds program will start with three facilitators: Moylett, the ECE, will work with the youngest children, the Seeds; MacEachern, with her background in expressive arts therapy, will work with the Sprouts, and Shelley Hannah, an Outward Bound facilitator, will work with older children, the Saplings.
Registration for the fall session starts this week. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.