I would like to extend my warmest thanks to the staff at Shastrananda school for offering me the opportunity to visit my first Sri Lankan educational setting.
Sri Lankan schools are much like British schools in that there are a range of private, religious and government state schools. Shastrananda is a government school offering free education to the local children. The Sri Lankan government also offers free breakfast to school children which is much appreciated. This is something that back in the UK many schools see the value of, providing it themselves. Hungry children are at a disadvantage when they start their day of learning. Being well fed gives you the best start for a day, offering higher concentration and energy.
So, arriving by tuk tuk I walked through the gates into Shastrananda school, into their big grounds and was met by a host of interested, curious and welcoming children and adults. The children were very polite offering the formal Sinhala greeting 'ayobowan' and I had...
I grew up in the countryside and have always been drawn to open spaces and nature. I am often happiest when outside, whatever the weather. I love the freedom that the countryside can offer. Options are often limited, with less people, less social activity, but a richer physical environment. It forces a slowness that a city can struggle to offer. I do, however, live in a city and one that I love. Sheffield is the perfect mix, in my eyes, of open green spaces, historical buildings and hustle and bustle, surrounded by a beautiful and rugged national park. It also holds a strong community spirit and is home to some incredible open-minded human beings.
Whilst travelling I have spent a disproportionate amount of time in cities. It means that I have seen much of a country's countryside through a window, a train, a car or a bus. I have missed spending time in nature and will always crave it, wherever I am. However, it is important to remember that the natural world is always present, despite...
Six weeks after entering Kathmandu airport, in a state of sleepless bewilderment, it is time to say farewell to this amazing country.
It has been a privilege to be able to spend such an extended period of time in this place. It has not only given me a sense of the country and the people that live here, but has also presented a magnified version of what travelling and all it's many facets can entail.
It has struck me that it is only upon revisiting a place and re-experiencing it that it is possible to understand it fully. Being in the same place with prior knowledge enables a freedom of thought that was previously impossible.
We travelled by bus from Pokhara back to Kathmandu a few days ago and it was the process of fully relaxing into the jarring and turbulent bus ride that enabled me to realise how different the experience was from our first ride, one full of trepidation.
When you arrive in a new country, especially one with very different customs and culture from your own, you are...
Heaven Hill Academy is a forward thinking and inclusive school in rural Nepal in the village of Guansahar. They provide education for children that would otherwise not have it, for example children with special educational needs, girls and children from low caste families. Families can access free education at the school if they cannot afford the fees. It is most important for the Principal that the children from the village access education, regardless of the obstacles. Needless to say without education the children's life choices will be very limited. The school is independent and gets no help from the Government and therefore relies heavily on help from volunteers and outside help.
The school runs new and exciting initiatives which are rare in Nepalese schools such as horse therapy for children with special educational needs and those needing help to boost their self confidence. With the help of volunteers, the school also embarked on a camping trip for two nights earlier this year...
Staying in rural Nepal for the last few days has been eye opening. The hospitality of the people in the mountains is impressive. They have little and they give a lot. We have been made to feel so welcome.
The group of volunteers standing with Shamser the Principal of Heaven Hill Academy.
We have been staying with a Principal of a local, independent and innovative primary school. Shamser set Heaven Hill Academy up two and a half years ago, with the aim of providing inclusive education for children regardless of their caste, special educational needs and gender.
The Nepalese flag flying in the school.
The Nursery classroom. It is respectful in Nepal to take your shoes off before you enter indoor rooms.
The inside of the Nursery classroom. This is the extent of the resources that they have. The children have books and they enjoy writing letters and numbers and sing songs and dance. They hang their back packs on the beam so they are out of the way.
Tucked away on Malcolm Island, a short ferry ride from Vancouver Island is the school of A J Elliott in the village of Sointula. This little school boasts mixed grade classes and I was grateful to spend a morning with two of the classes to learn a bit more about what happens in a Canadian school.
I arrived just in time for morning register with the mixed Kindergarten and Grade 1 class (equivalent to our Reception and Year 1). The small group of ten children were busy doing their morning routine of the date, letter of the day and greeting one another. I particularly liked the use of the calendar as a tool for recognising patterns as well as learning to read numerals. The children predicted what would come next in the pictoral sequence of the days.
To learn the letter of the day (it was 'g') they looked through all of the alphabet books that they had in the class and the children were challenged to remember which picture would be in each book.
There's nothing quite like buying new wellies! That is exactly what I did for my day at Trackers Earth School. I excitedly put them on along with a warm fleecy jumper and rain coat and several other layers, complete with packed lunch. I was ready. Ready to go the forest with three teachers and a group of sixteen 4 and 5 year olds. On a yellow school bus!
Now Trackers is not your average school establishment. It provides summer camps throughout the summer holidays, it has a forest school for children to attend regularly, it provides adult learning and also provides extracurricular programs for children to supplement their other education, whether it be public, private, Montessori, Waldorf or home schooling. The group that I attended was formed of the latter. These were children that may come 1-3 days a week. Trackers offers a hands on experiential learning in nature and the outdoors and it is fair to say that, along with the children, I learnt a lot during my day w...
My second visit to an educational establishment was a really exciting experience. I had contacted Wildwood Nature School, a very small setting teaching up to 12 children in a residential neighbourhood high up on a hill above Portland. Nicole, the owner and Lead Teacher of this preschool, teaching 3-5 year olds in her home kindly agreed to show me around. I arrived in the most beautiful of locations, inspired already by the scenery - you can see for miles around from the preschool!
The stunning and vast view!
I had specifically contacted Nicole after reading their school website and becoming very intrigued. Nicole has written a great piece about the place of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in the preschool curriculum. I have attached the link below and highly recommend you give it a read; it is a brilliantly written exploration of what STEM can look like in preschool settings and how it can be embedded throughout the learni...
So my pedagogical journey has finally begun! Picture a big lake, houses, and the city of Oakland surrounding the lake. Then tucked up a residential side street is a little white, wooden clad school.
The Director and staff greeted me with great hospitality and friendliness and I was given the privilege of staying for an afternoon. I was shown around the little school, set in an old house and shown around the different age group's rooms and spaces. The front garden, as well as the back garden are used as outdoor play areas.
The large back garden outdoor area
A new addition to the play space - hessian dividers to zone off outdoor areas
Californian weather enables permanent large outdoor sand play
Outdoor construction area
A beautiful addition for outdoor role-play!
The bike and running track
Gross motor skills are encouraged with balls, bikes and climbing equipment
An outdoor literacy area tucked in the corner - helpful for windy days!