How to Nurture Your Child’s Intuition: Their Inner Compass
“The only real valuable thing is intuition”- Albert Einstein
Our intuition is our inner light and is an undeniably important aspect of humanity that we must pass down to our youth as they grow into adulthood. Both a skill and an art form, all humans possess intuition but we need to be allowed the time and space to cultivate it. Creating such a container to do so is what we do at Aishling Forest School.
So how can we help our learners gain this skill of intuitively following their inner light?
According to Tracy Renee Stafford, the Executive Contributor to Brainz Magazine, she explains in her article “Nurturing our Natural Intuition” that for us to tap into our gut feeling we first need to calm our nervous system, as many humans tend to live at a higher vibration of distractions from the outside, environmental stressors, that pull us away from a naturally calm state of mind. Stafford recommends, “While removing outer stresses can be tough, we can work on becoming more calm & centered within. Meditation is an extremely helpful practice in this regard…Spending time in nature is also helpful, as is getting enough rest, exercise, & quality time with dear ones.”
For our learners, sometimes meditation is as simple as staring off into the dancing flames of a bonfire, laying in a hammock watching the leaves fall or watching a trail of tiny ants march across the forest floor.
Executive coach, Bonnie Marcus, echoes this theory in her Forbes magazine article where she places great emphasis on the importance of intuition from a business strategy point of view: “Intuition plays an essential role for decision-making in rapidly changing environments; it is a practical leadership tool. This is a skilled, self-aware decision-making approach not a willy-nilly use of the next whim that pops into your head. It is my hope that by bringing more awareness to the power that the brain holds and how to harness it, we can close the credibility gap and use more insightful intelligence to solve complex problems faster and more effectively.“
Marcus and Stafford both agree on the methods of how to build a strong intuition: “We’ve all had the experience of finding just the right answer as we drop off to sleep, while taking a walk or in the shower. It’s the familiar aha moment. Research shows that a-ha moments arrive when we give the brain space to work. The approach I recommend is to review all of the data available, gather input from the appropriate people, then take a brain break. Do something that distracts the mind; let it wander. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI) studies show that the brain continues to work on the problem and, in fact, the downtime allows the brain to pick up subtle signals from the dusty file folders and meld them with the facts. We can intentionally enable those connections by priming the brain and taking a brain break.”
At Aishling Forest School, we love having our learners explore the world through free play and socio-emotional interactions as we ensure, as mentors, to guide them in realizing certain small wonders of nature as we spend our hours under the trees. We model how to take a pause and a deep breath, when emotions are high. We stop the group to look for the resident owls and practice our hoots and wolf calls, tapping into that running river of innate wild wisdom that flows all around us. These breaths, pauses, and observations help our forest school learners to tap into their own gut feelings whilst simultaneously connecting to the vastness of nature. When this practice is done in a group setting in a playful, developmentally appropriate manner for young children, we are able to instill conversations about kindness, self-care, and mindfulness, all traits setting the groundwork for growing a strong inner fire of intuition.
In addition to cultivating mindfulness with our learners through nature connection and socialization, we use various wilderness skills as alternative methods to further develop a deep intuitive inner light. Wilderness skills such as navigation and fire building have been wonderful allegorical teachers over the past few weeks. We have worked on helping our learners build their intuitive decision making skills through learning compass directions, map making, landmark identification, and navigational recall. By utilizing these skills and their intuition, learners have been able to confidently and correctly navigate our home in the woods at CEED. It’s been very impressive to watch as the learners play a version of “treasure hunt” with a map and a compass. They loved this game and continued to play it over and over with their own variations, each learner growing more and more confident in trusting their gut while navigating wild places.
Fire building has long been a foundational skill of forest school, at Aishling we strongly encourage not only learning the skill of how to start a fire with a flint striker and foraged tinder, but we are also passionate about discussing the symbolism of fire building, tending to a fire, and creating a safe connected community space around the fire. Our mentors explain about what our inner fire is and how it also requires tending to, as lifelong firekeepers. We talk a lot about self-care, listening to your feelings, what feels right and what feels wrong, if your body is tired, hungry, cold, or thirsty, making sure that we always tend to those needs to keep our fire burning and help those around us who need tending to as well. Positive language is another tool we love to use for tending to our fires, as it’s important to us that all of the children flourish into people who speak kindly to themselves and others. Just like the forest needs the entire ecosystem to uphold itself, we need to support each other so we can collectively stand tall like our beautiful oaks and maples.
As our young learners grow within these formative years, and we watch them develop and blossom, we hope that this foundation for intuition continues to grow. We can clearly see that spending time in nature, finding a relaxing meditative activity such as hiking, taking a sit-spot, building a community fire, or spending time with good company has been proven to be beneficial to the growth of our inner intuitive fire and allowing our minds to find peace where we then stumble across our a-ha moments. We hope that by learning to navigate wild places, develop risk assessment skills, and tend to their inner light while shining it to brighten others lights when dimmed, that our learners will always trust their intuition and live from their truest heart.
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