The Free Forest School is here in Manila! Not everyday but at least on weekends, families who want their kids to hang out in nature have a community that values this time with the trees and the earth. In other countries, they hold these excursions in actual forests but the Manila chapter had to make do with what’s available nearby — the U.P. Diliman sunken garden with a dried up but still pretty lagoon. On weekends, you celebrate communing with nature with others practicing a theater performance, choir singing, martial arts, taichi, having a picnic, but there’s space for everyone in this beautiful park with roads around it closed to vehicular traffic so there are also bikers enjoying the rare perk. Ah, if it could be like this even on weekdays. If we could allocate space in each part of the city where ROI is not the prevailing priority but the feeding of the human soul.
The Free Forest School is an international network of communities promoting more play time in nature.
Research shows nature play benefits children’s health, supporting social-emotional, physical, and cognitive development and wellness. Yet time spent outdoors in unstructured play is at an all-time low and many children face significant barriers to playing in nature.
We believe all children deserve to play and explore in nature. We pursue equitable access to nature play for all children by mobilizing grassroots leaders and partnering with school districts, cities and community organizations.
Most of their activities may be limited to the weekends but it’s still a much a needed break from regular urban life. I hope someday there could be a real Forest School that’s open every day like the Forest Kindergartens in other countries but not just limited to pre-school. Wishful thinking again but still extremely grateful to the organizers who initiated the Free Forest School in the Philippines.
Many homeschooling families are probably searching for this kind of alternative and any family is welcome to join. Check out their the Forest School Metro Manila group. There’s also a group over at Zambales and they hike the Pamulaklakin trail.