For me, it has always been that the “natural” comes naturally. Outside is my favorite place on Earth. I feel most alive and whole in the wind, sun, water and/or with dirt under my feet.
Because of that, the concept of a forest school is heavenly to me. I would enroll my children in a heartbeat. Both of them, No Question.
It has been my observation over the last year that Kimberly experiences benefits equal to or greater than that of formal therapy navigating the natural environment. While walking in the woods, she has to greatly limit her stimming (head swaying and hand movements) to keep her balance and focus. This is excellent practice for her. Her desire to feel various textures can be more than adequately met in the woods. The fresh air, sunshine, wind, rain, heat and cool temperatures all provide stimulation that she craves. Can it be that simple? Absolutely.
Often we allow ourselves to think that to be effective and efficient we must be formal. Formal in our therapies, formal in our language, formal in our “play”. Truly though, it is the informal, the spontaneous, and the “free” that can bring us the most benefit. Being outside makes us understand that we are a part of something so much bigger. Often we allow ourselves to forget that important fact.
Special needs children are never really allowed to feel that way…so much focus is placed on them, often from such a young age. They feel as if they are the center of the universe. That intensity can be overwhelming. Taking the spotlight off of them and allowing them to be children who explore, get scrapped knees, climb a tree, and play in a puddle may be just what the doctor ordered.