AFSA APPROVED PROVIDER:
Wildlings Forest School
At Wildlings Forest School our aim is to prioritise risky play experiences for children within the natural, wild spaces of Southeast Queensland. We believe that without opportunity for ‘safe’ risky play, children miss out on building the hands-on experience and resilience that will help prepare them for the big, wide world. We are passionate about all things play and advocating for children’s rights, such as abundant access to nature and unstructured play. Our diverse team are highly qualified in a range of child-related vocations which include education, environmental science, creative industries and outdoor recreation. Furthermore, our core team are trained Forest School Leaders and meet regulated industry standards in regard to child protection, first aid, water safety and staff-to-children ratios on both land and water.
Our programs are structured around children exploring free play in nature while surrounded by a loving and compassionate community of families and mentors who gently guide children on their life journey. At Wildlings Forest School we are passionate advocates for adventure play and self-directed learning. Our sessions strike a balance between direct instruction, mainly on the safe use of tools/fire management, and free play, but the sign of a good day is when we can step back and just watch children play. We firmly believe that children learn through play, and it is our role to step back and allow them to do that. We join children when asked, offer guidance when appropriate, and make the most of teachable moments when they arise. We believe in slow pedagogy where we stand back, observe, and join children in their learning when the time is right.
Wildlings Forest School sessions are held in both the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane year-round. Our sessions run every Tuesday to Friday during the term (Playgroup, Forest Kindy, Homeschool and Afterschool programs), and full time during the school holidays. We cater for children from birth through to early teens, adjusting our programs so that they are age-appropriate. We facilitate all-weather sessions that encourage adventure and exploration to help promote imagination and self-discovery. As they immerse themselves in nature through self-initiated experiences, they may participate in any of the following activities depending on their age: outdoor games, socio-dramatic play, bushwalking, story time (oral storytelling and books), songs, nature crafts, raft building, ropes courses, whittling with pocket knives, building with hand tools, flora and fauna identification, climbing trees, nature journaling, scavenger hunts, campfire safety and cooking, tree planting, and cubby building.
As a team we are committed to social justice and reconciliation principles. In an effort to create greater equity we extend a reduced program rate to children from marginalised or single parent families including Australian Indigenous people, LGBTQIA+ or single caregiver families. In doing this we aim to promote equal opportunity and inclusion because we believe that every child deserves the chance to experience the benefits of play-based outdoor education. In addition, we are committed to ongoing reconciliation processes as evidenced by our reconciliation action plan. Our sessions always begin with an Acknowledgement of Country, and Indigenous elements are embedded throughout our sessions as we connect to and learn with, from, and about the land. We are proactive about building deep and lasting relationships with local First Nations Peoples and regularly invite them to join us at our sessions. As a team, we are committed to anti-bias practices and prioritise this as a focus in our ongoing professional development.
At Wildlings Forest School we are committed to sustainable practices in both our sessions and our business. We firmly believe in recycling, upcycling, and re-using whatever we can. We bring minimal materials to our sessions, instead relying on the affordances and loose parts that nature provides. When we do purchase materials, we aim to buy second hand where possible, and sell any materials that are no longer needed to continue this cycle. We regularly move to new spaces at our sites to ensure that our footprint remains small and to allow for areas that are heavily used to regenerate. We are ecologically sensitive about using natural materials at our sites, ensuring that we harvest invasive weed species for bush crafting and use loose parts that are already on the ground. We embed sustainability by promoting respect for self, others, and country, and help them to become aware that the areas we use are also home to flora and fauna. We hope to foster children’s natural curiosity about the world around them and empower them with skills to explore and understand their environment.