At Nature Explorers School, we believe that every child is unique and has their own strengths and talents. We see our role as providing them with that safe space, to allow them to all blossom in their own right. Our coaches engage the children in a scaffolding method, where we stand back and allow children to do things themselves. We want them to make decisions and try things out on their own. We will help them out when it is the right time to step in. Many times adults make the mistake of over helping children. We have to think long term, and not only to get it down well once. We want children to trust and hone their instincts, and they can only do this if they are given time to do things. To be allowed to fail without judgement, and be given the chance to do it again. This will build up their resilience and independence to overcome difficulties. Children are well capable of doing their own risk assessment, and our job as adults/ coaches is to observe them with a watchful eye. We set safety rules around activities, so that children can play and experiment within these boundaries. When dealt with nature based challenges, we like to keep things open. Children are often very resourceful and can come up with brilliant ideas to solve a problem. When we over suggest or prompt, we may limit them to what we know. By igniting their curiosity and playing to their strengths, children gain confidence and develop an overall positive outlook of life.
Please give me time to experience my world. Let me smell the rain, touch a tree, hear the birds and see the sunset. So that when I read and write about those words, I will truly understand what they mean.
Nature Explorer School adopts a holistic teaching approach in that we feel we can teach just about anything. We cover things like knowledge of flora, fauna, survival skills, science of how things work, history and geography of the land, developing linguistic or musical skills. We are also very interested in their emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills. We want inculcate in children a sense of care and respect for others and the environment. We are able to achieve this because nature provides endless scenarios and play opportunities. However, all this is only possible if you set the right tone for children and the session. There are really no two sessions that are the same and that is the beauty of nature. Children will always find different ways to play or they will go deeper in their learning and get better and doing what they do.
Safety is at the core of Nature Explorers School. As experienced coaches, we know that children learn best when they feel safe. Only then can they begin to explore freely without too much adult intervention. Being outdoors implies that risks cannot be removed totally; therefore we perform safety assessments to minimise known risk. Our coaches are first aid certified and must comply with stringent Health and Safety guidelines, which includes medical, equipment and incident procedures.
Children are also involved in safety assessments so that they learn how to take responsibility for their safety and that of their friends. When adults intervene too much and constantly warn children about safety, we take away their ability to care for themselves. It is important to observe how children manage danger and to intervene when necessary. Our role is not to remove risk as it will always be there, but to teach children how to manage it.
There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing
Founder Jenson Ong
(Certified Level 3 Forest School Leader)
I have always been drawn to the outdoor environment since I was young. My fond memories of my childhood include doing things like catching spiders, exploring drains and block catching. I cultivated my interest when I joined the Scouts in my secondary school days and managed to be an Infantry Officer in the army. I really enjoyed the survival skills that I picked up, especially all the campfires. In the army I was quite different to my other platoon mates because I quite enjoyed it whenever we went outfield whereas they usually dreaded it!
I’ve always wanted to start my own business and thankfully in one of my many researches, I came across the Forest School philosophy. It struck me the first time I read about it and further research led me to take the plunge. I attended the Forest School Leader training provided by Forest School Learning Initiative, which was based in England. It such was a revelatory experience as I soaked up the information and training provided. As a parent of three young children, it was a lot more impactful as I reflected on my own parenting approach. Its philosophy made complete sense as I was convinced of the benefits and importance of allowing children more space to make decisions. And that’s when I started NES.
Before this, my jobs in the airline and tourism sector were all centered on enhancing customer experiences. I think I’ve always had a deep rooted motivation to make peoples lives better and happier. My work experiences also involved overseas stints in Australia and India, and those experiences have helped broaden my outlook.
NES started in 2019, and I believe that the work we do is really good and beneficial for children. We are developing happier children, giving them a more positive outlook that will last them for their entire life. However the challenge for our work is, you can’t see self-esteem or confidence easily. Children enjoy our sessions so much but it is sometimes hard to communicate that to parents or the importance of it. Nevertheless the forest school movement is growing and I am really happy to be part of it and to have touched so many lives. I hope this can continue so that more people can see the importance of simply giving children space to grow and explore. We will then see the benefits in their longer term development as they grow up and begin making an impact on society.
Sophia (Admin Manager)
Every day in nature brings new wonders to discover! I have always been deeply captivated by the beauty of nature. Here at Nature Explorers School, I get to immerse myself in nature and at the same time, share that happiness with the children. Being able to witness the joy and wonder on their faces as they discover something new is incredibly rewarding. By creating a supportive environment for them to play and grow, I hope to enable their natural curiosity and allow them to develop essential life skills and a deeper appreciation for the world around them.
Nature, being a vast and ever-changing classroom, offers a rich tapestry of experiences for exploration and discovery. Whether it's identifying a new plant species, or observing animal behaviour, each session brings the potential for new learning moments, both for me and the children. Witnessing firsthand their growth and development has indeed been a true privilege.
An Phan (Social Media Manager)
Growing up, my tanned skin has been a definite giveaway of how much I enjoyed basking in the sun and immersing myself in nature. As I grow older, I realised how much being in the forest has taught me beyond the classroom. Some soft skills I have acquired through my time in the forest are resilience and problem-solving. As such, the forest school philosophy is something I believe in and hope to bring to life as a Nature Explorers School coach. With my background as a publicity head for several projects, I hope to spread the words about forest school on social media through fun visuals and inspiring stories of children in Nature Explorers School!
Lee Ern (Programme Manager)
In this age of digitalisation, it is truly mesmerising to witness a child immerse themselves in the splendour of nature, embracing the lush greenery with their hands in the soil and sprits soaring high.
At NES, our forest school programmes offer more than traditional education which typically exists within the four walls. They empower children to lead their own learning experiences, fostering invaluable life experiences. As a coach, I too find myself enriched by the lessons that nature imparts.
Reflecting on the cherished moments of my own childhood, I am drawn back to the adventures that I have had outdoors, and this, in turn, reminds me of the importance of nature in shaping who we are. This influence guides my work with the Programme Team at NES.
My goal is to bring fresh ideas to NES, creating programmes that inspire and captivate!
Lehana Guo (Senior Coach)
It is fascinating to watch a child grow from one that is fearful of the scary outdoors into one that embraces all aspects of it, from playing in muddy puddles, catching tadpoles, to studying creepy crawlies in earnest.
The role as a Nature Explorers School Coach has pushed me/us to devise creative ‘building’ and playing methods as we explores mud-painting, den building, obstacles forming and many more. I believe that each session that we conduct goes beyond just the transferring of knowledge but also builds up a child’s confidence, collaboration ability and creativity. Although I am a coach, what the child glean from a session, I glean too.
Currently, I am also a freelance Landscape Architect and a part-time lecturer in Landscape Architecture.