I’ve written this first paragraph twice now. The first draft was along the lines of what an outdoors person I am, and how I want the same for my daughter. But then it occurred to me, who cares? It doesn’t matter what I, the parent, think – why live in a place like Bristol and not get outside and create opportunities to learn to love nature for your kids?
Bristol is perfect for the baby who likes the wind in her hair and the smell of soil in her nostrils. So, as soon as she turned one, I enrolled her in the Summer Term of Little Badgers Forest School. The first day was yesterday, and we were very excited as we made our way into the woods with several other children (randomly, almost all little girls, where were the boys?).
Undeterred by the fact she was the smallest attendee who wasn’t there as a ‘younger sibling’, Tibbs mucked in, literally, from the start. After a ‘hello song’, sung by a squirrel with a walking stick, we went down to a clearing where the activity takes place. On the way, kids looked out for the odd forest friend (mostly soft toy woodland animals) hiding in places they could reach. There was mud to be squelched, woodlice to be chased, and parental pleas of ‘come here’ and ‘slow down’ to be ignored. It couldn’t be a safer environment to run wild in.
The woods, a place called Wraxhall Piece near Ashton Court, were (as Robert Frost might say) are lovely, dark and deep.
We gathered in a circle, most kids just happily throwing themselves down onto the floor to sit, and had some blackcurrant tea and a breadstick. Then, whilst the majority of the children learned how to plant their own potted seeds, parents gathered and talked and the Little Badgers team (Emily and Jen) made sure everyone got their own chance to see something new about nature that day.
Tibbs got to work as only a non-walker can do – by scratting along the forest floor, stopping to examine tiny pieces of leaf and just budding Bluebells. She got the hang of the trowel, but only really as an eating utensil (look away now germ-phobes)
She then had a closer look at some trees, which she was incredibly surprised to find were both comfy, tall and sometimes tasty.
I don’t for one second think that Tibbs is too young for Forest School, despite the fact most of the attendees can both walk and talk. It’s never too early to show kids how incredible the outdoors can be. I was pleased to meet friendly parents there too, which is always a worry when you start a new activity.
A term at Little Badgers costs around £75.00 with some concessions available. Places are limited but there is a waiting list one can join. There are a few sessions a week and they last around an hour and a half. They also do excellent ‘alternative’ children’s parties with a forest setting. A great way to entertain Bristol kids outdoors.