The lovely Fall weather is finally coming back to Houston! One of the goals of the Friends of West 11th Street Park has been to encourage everyone to get into the park and experience the joy of nature. For that reason, the decomposed granite trails were installed so that people could easily walk in the forest during any type of weather.
Recently, I had a very exciting conversation with Timbergrove Manor resident, Brett Sillers of the Free Forest School. The Free Forest School is a national non-profit organization that encourages child-lead exploration of nature. According to their website, “Free Forest School ignites children’s innate capacity to learn through unstructured play in nature, fostering healthy development and nurturing the next generation of creative thinkers, collaborative leaders, and environmental stewards.” Brett described the program as unstructured play in nature for kids up to the age of 6 years. The group is limited to a maximum of 12 families. They meet at the West 11th Street Park twice a week. After an initial safety meeting, the kids are let loose in the park to explore and play however they like. They sit on the trails and look at the sparkles that collect on their hands, stomp in the mud, climb trees, find bugs, listen to birds and are just excited to be playing in their woods. Each family sends a responsible adult to supervise their children but the kids decide what they want to do. At the end of the play period, everyone sits in a circle for a snack and a story. The children learn independence in a supervised setting while the parents learn how to let their kids explore. What a wonderful use of the park!
I hope to see you in the park soon!