{forest school}

The longer we homeschool, the more flexible we become. School starts…sometime after breakfast. Or if you are a teenager, it starts sometime after morning tea when you emerge from your cave and stare into your weetbix bowl long enough to remember what words are. It ends up being the same amount of hours, just shifted into the times when everyone is more suited to sitting and doing lessons. Like most things in homeschooling, it may not work for everyone, but it works for us.

Until, of course, we have to be out the door at a specific time. Especially if that specific time coincides with what would normally be second breakfast. Yesterday we needed to be out the door and in the car by 8.45am, and ohhhhh man. How the heck did I manage to survive the school run for the four years we mainstreamed? The kids didn’t stop bickering. I didn’t stop snapping at every little thing. The breakfast dishes were shoved in the sink to be dealt with when we go home. I sent a message to my friend-group-chat at 8.51am, while I was still waiting for the last shoe to be tied and hat to be picked up, bowing down to their organised school-mum-ness and asking how they managed to do this every stinkin’ morning because my head was about to explode… and that was before we jumped in the car, only to find I’d forgotten to pick my keys up off the desk. In the locked house.

All the craziness was worthwhile, though, when we turned off the main road and followed the rough scrub track down to the spot where we would meet our group and settle in for a day of forest school adventures. A shady little circle of trees strung with flags, a mat with rocks and paint pens and provocations, and beyond that, a river and trees and logs and steep hills made for running up and down.

With a group of 8 kids between 9 & 14, plus three littlies, the day was off and running. There were rocks to be hopped. Logs to be balanced on across the river…or not, if you are my Mr7 and decide you might just walk straight across, because what day is complete without water-filled gumboots and soggy shorts? There was running and hollering and all the magic that comes with kids being let run free to create their own fun.

As lunchtime approached, the two biggest kids were put on wood collecting duty, before everyone gathered together for a demonstrate of starting a campfire using a flint and bio-char. Once going, the fires were used to cook up lunch, including one of our kids’ favourite firepit treats – damper on a stick. Of course, what is a camp fire, without marshmallows for desert?

After lunch, the kids were straight back into the water, while the parents hung out on the river bank, watching the coals of the lunch fires burning down and making sure they were going out safely. By the time we had to gather up bags and eskies and towels, I had four worn out small folk, a newly started stitching project, and all of us looking forward to our next forest school day.

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