A while ago, I read an article about forest nurseries, kindergartens where children up to the age of six spend half of their time outdoors in unstructured play. The article really resonated with me . I’d already read a great post on Mark’s Daily Apple about “forest bathing” and how important physically it is for us to be outside in our natural environment and loved the idea of this being part of the prescribed curriculum! Unfortunately, there are no forest nurseries to be had in the Greater Finglas area (or even anywhere in Ireland as far as I know) so I realised I was going to have to work on this part of the boys’ schooling myself if I wanted to balance out all the time they’ll spend indoors, in creche and preschool and school. I found a great crowd of parents who operate the Free Range Kids group in Dublin and who meet at various outdoor locations every week and just let the kids get dirty and wet and explore and play. No playgrounds, just forests and rivers and parks. We went to one meetup in Massey Woods over the summer and the boys had a great time:
But now I’m back at work part-time (sad face) and the times of these meetups don’t suit. So we are going to have to strike out on our own! I’ve committed to myself that we will get outdoors after playschool on my two regular days off work every week, regardless of the weather. (I say regardless but there is always a chance that come some rainy afternoon in November you’ll find us watching Batman with the central heating on, with only two pot plants on the windowsill as a token gesture to the great outdoors. But for now, I have faith!). Anyway, Mondays I’m thinking of Santry Demesne, a nice bit of parkland in Santry that’s on a bus route from our house, or Tolka Valley Park, which is just down the road on the way to Cabra. There’s a new part to this park that stretches all the way up to Ashtown; it’s not officially opened yet but is – ahem- accessible with a bit of a hop, skip and jump. Tuesdays I’m trying to make a big day of , taking CaveCousin along for the adventure. I have the boot loaded up with rain trousers and wellies, I have a waterproof cover for the Tula baby carrier to keep CaveBaby dry on my back and we’re off exploring! We’ve had one outing to the Phoenix Park so far although we did cheat a bit and a/ scheduled a quick trip to the playground as an enticer and b/ chickened out when it rained and ducked into the Visitor’s Centre. But we’ll get tougher! The lads’ grandad works in the Park and seems to know every inch of it and it would be lovely to get them really familiar with it too. I’ve lots of other ideas for trips in the works – a jaunt to Dollymount to make sand castles and throw stones in the water say, or a wander around the Botanic Gardens and the big green houses there or even a trip back over southside to Massey’s Woods or the Hellfire Club which is just above it. I’m intrigued at the minute as well by the idea of foraging and might try to get them gathering autumn berries or even preparing a bit of a spot out our back to grow a few things next year.
So anyway, Tuesday is outdoor adventure day for the rest of term – will update on how the adventure progresses!