What a journey it has been to get to here. I have been a hospital doctor and then a lawyer before having my children. I then created my own path that fitted with how I wished to be a parent. I bought a very small woodland and trained as a forest school leader. As a sole trader I created work around looking after young children. Forest School enabled me to tap into latent creativity and a love of nature that had been missing in my other careers. As my children grew, I was able to put more time into their primary education and started The Wood School, an alternative outdoor primary setting for children aged 4-12 years old. My children stopped attending the local primary and spent most of their week in the woods whilst we home educated otherwise. Home education is a massive responsibility and I learnt along with them. My biggest support was discovering non-violent communication (NVC). Marshall Rosenberg, a humanist psychologist, developed a model to support all humans to converse without blame or judgment. NVC develops emotional literacy so that we can see that each of us are just trying to get our own needs met and that sometimes our strategies to do so bring us into conflict with others. Alfie Kohn’s academic book “Punished by rewards” solidified my move away from punishments and reward systems. These compassionate principles underpinned learning at The Wood School. Our setting grew from 12 children attending 1 day a week to over 70 children attending part time over 5 days a week all year round. Many children had additional needs and had not settled in a school setting.
The way we talk to each other effects us all but particularly children who can internalise that they are bad, worthless or unloved.
I further trained as an Instructor in Parent Effectiveness Training, which has the same humanist psychology background as NVC, but offers practical solutions when problems arise.
We also put in place the “explosive child” methods (Dr Ross Greene) for supporting children who found transitions, flexibility, adaptability more challenging.
We created specific sessions to teach children emotional intelligence through stories and crafts. Stories help when discussing such things as resilience, sharing, friends playing with someone else, taking turns and the tricky things that often come up.