Forest School at Home // Southwest: Caring + Tending

Apr 15, 2020

Odawa Peacemaker, Paul Raphael uses the expression, “Lay low and tend your fire.” This image describes the essence of the Caring and Tending Spirit. The Earth itself exemplifies this nurturing spirit by  continually providing for and supporting our lives. As Indicators of Awareness, Tending and Caring embody nourishment and nurture, empathy, and protection. The Core Routine of Wandering encourages people to attend to the messages of their bodies, to rest or eat when needed, to get physically active when that urge comes up, to follow a curiosity or intuition when it tickles. The most important point to hold about this indicator is that we must start by taking care of ourselves first. 

Remember to make that time for yourself to tend to your needs so that you are able to meet your children’s needs wholeheartedly without emptying your own cup. I personally have made it a point to explain this in words to my children when they request more than I am capable of, I have learned to respond by saying that I cannot take care of them if I don’t take care of myself sometimes too, or my fire will burn out and nobody gets the help they need! I hope that this will trickle down into their subconscious adult mind one day. We do not have many rules at Aishling Forest School, but what we do preach is:

  1. Take Care of Yourself
  2. Take Care of Each Other
  3. Take Care of Mama Earth

 If we don’t tend our own fires, what are we teaching by our examples? May we each learn to tend our own fire first, for then we can — with skill, centeredness, and endurance — tend to other and bigger fires. Of course, this same tending sensibility will also show itself as care for others and the natural world (Jon Young).

Activity: Body Radar

Age: All ages

Time: Open- ended

Material: Map, compass, or GPS map device

Skills: Self-sufficiency, exploring, expanding the senses, wondering, following intuition, wandering, being animals, surprising, aliveness and agility, inquisitive focus, caring and tending.

How To:

  • Inspire

Ask everyone to pause for a moment in nature, to be still and silent, and to use their senses. Prompt them by leading them through each sense asking what do you see, smell, hear, feel, etc. Then ask them to physically turn their bodies in different directions of the area until they feel a direction calling them. That feeling comes differently for everyone, sometimes a tingliging, warmth, or  just some unexplainable knowing in their gut. This is building our intuition. 

Begin wandering in the chosen direction and stop once in a while to let the child check into their Body Radar and see if the direction has changed. Go again wherever their body curiosity leads. Continue your Body Radar wandering for as long as your wish or until you “find where you need to be.” Often some place out there waits for you with maybe a group of fallen trees that serve as a playground, tiny seedlings or mushrooms emerging, or a pile of bones asking to be explored.

  • Tips-

Do not go off trail in fragile areas or in public parks that prohibit it or private land posted “No Trespassing”. Make sure to bring a compass, map, or GPS device and know how to use them.

  • Story of the Day-

At the end of a wandering experience ask the learners questions such as, how did this differ from usual walking? What did they like about it? Was there anything uncomfortable about this new way of wandering? What do you think if you used this new way of exploring not only for walking in nature, but also for making decisions and choices?

  • Why It’s Great-

Wandering allows us to be present in the moment, curiosity gently leading us wherever we go. Wandering through a landscape being led by curiosity and open eyes is the fertile ground for true discovery. When we are not pushing a learning agenda, curiosity comes to the forefront and guides the learning process.

During our ZOOM call on Tuesday 4/28, we’ll create another Sharing Circle, pass around our imaginary talking stick and will each have a chance to tell our Wandering Story of the Day. 

As always, these activities are mere suggestions to help you and your little’s connect more with yourself, each other and with nature. They are by no means, prescribed, as nothing in Forest School ever will be. Like nature, we are here to support you, as you nourish you and your family’s mind, body and soul.

You’ve got this and we’ve got this!