Forest School Adventures: Nurturing Environmental Stewardship in Early Childhood Education (Ep. 05)

July 25, 2023

Welcome to Episode 5 of the TAIP Conversations Podcast.

In this episode, 'Forest School Adventures: Nurturing Environmental Stewardship in Early Childhood Education,' we delve into the heart of environmental stewardship in early childhood education.

Our guests, Ann Nishigaya of Tokyo Children's Garden and Kai Change of iForest International Forest School, join host Dr. John Adduru, past TAIP President and Center Director of Lighthouse GL, Inc., in a lively discussion about the importance of nurturing a love for nature in young learners.

Please tune in to learn more about the ways that spending time in nature can improve children's physical, mental, and emotional health. We will also discuss the difference between risks and hazards, and how forest schools can help children develop a deep connection to nature and learn how to safely navigate the outdoors.

Listen below, or on:

For those who want to follow along, here is the transcript of Episode 5 of the TAIP Conversations Podcast, 'Forest School Adventures: Nurturing Environmental Stewardship in Early Childhood Education'.

The transcript is provided for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, or who would like to read along as they listen to the podcast. It is also a valuable resource for anyone who is interested in learning more about the benefits of forest schools and how to incorporate them into their own early childhood education practice.

Welcome to TAIP conversations, a series of discussions of issues surrounding the international early childhood education community in Japan.

John Adduru: Hi. Hi, Anne and Kai.

Ann Nishigaya: Hi.

Kai Chang: Hi, John.

John Adduru: Yes. So before we start, before we start our, our conversation, I would like to welcome our viewers or listeners from T A I P. Now we are starting our TAIP conversation for this year again, and we have had really positive feedback about our TAIP conversations in the past, and I think.

It's really important to continue that on this year, and thank you both of you to join in and, you know, like just talk about your passion and your, your, your philosophies about education, because I think what we really want to see in schools is to be able to understand what are our teaching philosophies and learning approaches that we do with the children, especially in early childhood education.

So here with me are the most prominent. And respected educators here in Tokyo. So we have Ann Nishigaya from Tokyo Children's Garden. She's the, she's the principal. Ann, would you like to introduce yourself further?

Okay. I guess she has been cut off. Yeah, Kai.

Kai Chang: Yep. She just got cut off. Yeah.

John Adduru: Okay. All right. So anyway, so let's get back to Anne later. So now we have Kai Kai Chang. He is the founder and owner of iForest International Forest School here in Tokyo, which is also known as iForest. Yes. So Kai, would you like to introduce more about yourself?

Kai Chang: Like John said, I am the founder and director of I Forest. I created the school just because I felt like the children needed to be kids again, and they needed outdoor time. They needed a lot of free play, risky play, something that the outside environment allows for the children to do instead of indoors where, sometimes you hear, oh, no running, no jumping. A lot of no, but, but in a controlled outdoor environment, then it's all possible. So that, that's my passion. That's why I created iForest.

John Adduru: Lovely. So how long have you been operating as a school Kai here in Tokyo?

Kai Chang: We're quite new. We're coming up to a year in August now.

John Adduru: Lovely. Yeah.

Kai Chang: So it's been quite a venture this year. Mm-hmm. We're growing, we're doing really well. I'm excited to see what's, what's to come next year.

John Adduru: Right.

Kai Chang: Maybe some collaboration.

John Adduru: Of course. That would be lovely. That would be lovely. I think Anna is back. Ann, are you there?

Ann Nishigaya: I am so sorry. Yes, I got kicked out somehow.

John Adduru: So, so Kai, I, I, I don't want to kind of like interrupt that thought, but let's talk about that later. So, before doing that, I would like to introduce again, Ann Nishigaya, the founder and principal of tokyo Children's Garden, one of the prestigious schools or preschools here in Tokyo, and I visited their place, it's an amazing place and the the teaching philosophies of, of, of the school as well is really like what it caught my attention so much. And Ann, would you like to, to explain further about your school and about you?

Ann Nishigaya: So yes. I'm the co-founder of Tokyo Children's Garden. I started it with Hisao Ihara. Maybe six and a half years ago already.

Mm. It's been a while, but I've known John and Kai both for years and years and years. And yeah, we, wen are a Reggio Emilia inspired, but I think we're a little bit different than a lot of schools. Even if they're Reggio Emilia inspired. And we, we've, we've always wanted the children to have the freedom of doing, you know, what they're passionate about and the things they want to do.

And more and more over the years, that seems to be Their interests outside as well. So I think that's one of the reasons we've been working with Kai so closely recently is that, you know, we're more and more interested in that kind of forest school experience and, you know, being in touch with nature and doing that as much as we can within Tokyo, but also going, you know, to Karuizawa on the weekends when we can.

But we're very, very lucky to be. You know, within walking distance, Arisugawa Park, which is just this amazing park, if you know the places to go, it can be quite wild and, and amazing. So yeah. And Kai, I, that's one of the places I actually bumped into Kai with, with, without having seen him for a couple years.

And that's kind of how we started collaborating on this forest school experience as well.

John Adduru: Right, right. So now going back to Kai, Ann, because I know I already asked Kai about when he started the school and how was the experience, and he said that the, the school is growing, which is, it's supposed to be that way because we needed, I mean, we need more forest education here in Tokyo. And this is a very urbanized city and it's really like about the technology and you know, in the four corners of this classroom and having something like a forest education is, for me, something, not a novel thing, but something that is important and significant into childhood development.

Mm-hmm. So in, in my experience as an educator, really, It's, it's so important for the children to go to the park and explore the park and to go outside to feel the fresh air. And I think it's beyond that experience that these children would need to get in terms of developing holistically. So, Kai, another question that I would like to ask you is like, what do you think the, the main reason why you, you created this forest education?

Where did it come from?

Kai Chang: While getting my master's degree in early childhood and family development, I. Realize that we need to connect more with nature and not just children, adults as well. So me personally, during Covid, I was like, oh, we need to get out and like if adults need it, then children, they definitely need it.

John Adduru: Right?

Kai Chang: So being stuck inside the home, in the classroom, there are some kind of limitations that we can't do like I mentioned before. Mm-hmm. So being outdoors has. All those benefits to it, like health benefits, which we'll probably tap into. Right. And again, risky play, just dealing with the weather all year round.

Like you just go out there and it, it makes you tough a little bit and you learn from it. And I, I think you can do mostly, pretty much like the. Traditional classroom inside. Yes. But outdoors, even just little elements of it you can apply it to any system.

John Adduru: Right, right. So like what do you think, you know, I know we have worked together for many, many years in an international school, Kai, and I know your philosophy and how great an educator you are.

So what do you think now is the difference in the four corners of the classroom? Now you're taking it outside, you know, in in nature, an outdoor experience. What do you think is like the difference now that you're seeing the children spending the whole day in the forest or spending the whole day outside?

What was, what is now the difference that you see from the, from the. Like for me, nonverbal communication is so important. Right? So body gestures, facial expressions, that's so important. So what are the differences that you can see now when you were in the classroom?

Kai Chang: Yeah, so some, something that's pretty magical when you go outside because in the classroom I feel like the kids are very safe and they want to expend all that energy.

But when we go out, well, my situation's a little bit different because I take, I transport the children out. Right. And our forests are pretty tranquil. There's nobody around except for us. So it's pretty unique. But when we do go out I feel the children's energy level is actually lower. Even the ones that are pretty active.

Wow. They just, there's something about. Nature when they're exposed to it, that just kind of soothes the beast, you know?

John Adduru: Wow, wow.

Kai Chang: Yeah. So that in itself just was awing for me and I was like, oh, this is amazing. Like we

John Adduru: Right.

Kai Chang: Don't have to do anything. Like you can run, you can jump all over the place, but they don't.

John Adduru: Right.

Kai Chang: Maybe because there's so many other stimuluses. Stimuli, like looking at bugs, the flora, the fauna and rocks, ants. Yes. Like so many other things to captivate them. That's right. Not in the classroom where they can just spend whole day throwing rocks even if they wanna.

John Adduru: That's amazing. That's amazing to hear.

Like it's always a good thing for me, you know, if the energy level is like a calming energy level. The children are really like into it. For me, it's more, it's more like they're more focused and in the zone when, when, in, when they are in that really disposition. So, Anne? Yes. Yes. Go ahead.

Kai Chang: Sorry. Sorry. One more thing was like creativity as well.

John Adduru: Yes. Yeah.

Kai Chang: Cause like for us, we don't bring anything out. We, we do bring tools such as like knives and saws and Right. pestal and mortar, but there's no glue. We don't have tape. What do we do? We, we do have rope and for our glue we just make mix the mud and water and there's our glue. So like they have to think about what they want to make and how to make it with nature.

And saying that all four schools are run differently. Some they do provide like mud kitchens and things like that, right? A little bit more of a curious,

John Adduru: I'm getting a lot curious now I think I wanna join your, your, your school one day and just to see how it goes, eh? Yeah.

Kai Chang: You know, I have parents say that and they're, and they do come, and anybody's welcome to come, John.

John Adduru: Right, right. Thank you, Kai. Ann I would like to ask your, your, your, your professional expertise and perception about, you know, like the difference, but because I know you are already. Kind of like doing this forest education as well at T C G, Tokyo Children's Garden. Mm-hmm. And my question is like, how, how did you come up with this idea?

And I know like you're also like, she, by the way, Anne is such a fantastic educator as well, and I, I've known her at T A I P for many, many years as she mentioned earlier. And you know, I would trust my child. If I have a child, I would trust my child to Ann because she, she's done so amazing things in, in terms of education here in Tokyo.

So Anne, so I wanna get your opinion now that, you know, like incorporating the outdoor education, how do you think like the children responded to this and, and what are the positive effects of their holistic development, per se?

Ann Nishigaya: I mean, I think since we've been doing more of the forest school, we've seen an amazing difference in their confidence, their, their sociability, their problem solving skills, their creativity, and even from our first site in Ikedaiyama, of course, we, we believed in outside education.

We went outside every day. But being close to a park like Arisugawa, where they can be yes, a little bit more has really changed everything. They can take risks, you know push their limits. And as I, I can't remember one of you were saying, you know, taking those interests from inside and just a simple act of moving them outside just changes everything,

John Adduru: Right.

Ann Nishigaya: So. Our three year old boys, they had this really big, interesting cooking and they would like to cook inside. So one day they didn't want to go outside and because they were, they were enjoying this cooking process. So I asked them if I brought the bowls and the spoons and things outside, how about that?

And we did, and it started this whole, thing about cooking in the park. I think Kai joined us for some of those. . And they could spend like an hour and a half really in one spot. You know, collecting leaves and, and making these beautiful presentations to feed to their friends. And that attention to detail and how much they could concentrate, was really, really amazing. As Kai said, we didn't have to worry because they didn't want to run off or, or do anything dangerous. They really like concentrated in this, this passion that they already had indoors, but moving it outdoors was just like a whole other world for them. It, it's, it's really amazing to see the difference and also children who have a little bit, you know, and they don't like to be messy or that, you know, even when painting indoors and every time they get paint on their hands. We've had a couple of children start that didn't like getting their hands dirty, but you know, a couple of times in Arisugawa Park or at Koogai Park in the rain, they're like taking off their boots and sitting in the puddles.

Cause they're, they're enjoying the sensory experience as well because it's in such a, context that, you know, it's their, their interests and they have the scope and the time to be able to explore their interests in these, in these places.

John Adduru: Right? So, you know, like with, with all of these experiences, right? And I think for us, when I hear about forest education, I think what's more important is also like the impact. Of this type of education for our future generation. Since that we are now working with preschool children, or we are, or we have been working with preschool children, is that to affect changes cat, to be catalysts of change in terms of looking after our environment. So do you think, like, Kai, I would like to ask you this question. Do you think that you know, what we do or what you do in forest education can foster the social responsibility that can help the children to be environmentally aware and also to be the stewards of our environment or our earth. You know, what do you think about that?

Kai Chang: Oh, yeah. Most definitely. They, there's a, there's something called a place space education.

John Adduru: The Place, space.

Kai Chang: Place.

John Adduru: Place, space.

Kai Chang: Place, Uhhuh, space..

John Adduru: Okay.

Kai Chang: Education. So when the children, they repeatedly go to the same place. In this instance, maybe Arisugawa or maybe any one of the forests that we venture out to, yes, repeatedly, they, they feel a connection with that space and within the natural environment there and with that connection comes responsibility. And with the responsibility of nature, then that's sustainability in the future,

John Adduru: right.

Kai Chang: That makes them really think, oh, I want to take care of this place, this nature, this world that we belong to,

John Adduru: right.

Kai Chang: So it does spread out to their adulthood. And there are studies where, where children that have been introduced to nature in early years.

In their adult life, they want to help and they wanna be more sustainable. And this is what we're doing as early childhood educators. We need to give them that environment.

John Adduru: Right. So the, this is my question, Kai, like when you're doing these this type of program, do you think that the learning is self constructing or it's something that, for example, like in terms of being the stewards of our environment, do you actually educate them? Like tell them like, oh, okay, we need to be the stewards of our, of our of nature. We have to look after the, the nature. Or is it more like coming intrinsically inside them, like motivating them, like to think for themselves that, oh, so we have this part of our lives now that is with the nature, so I am becoming more aware of who I am now and becoming more aware of what I have around me. So I need to start doing something. Do you think this is more like self constructed or more like you give them some, some information about it?

Kai Chang: I, I think we definitely need to give a little bit of information because as.

Curious children, they, they want to, you know, maybe step on all the ants or pick all the flowers and Yes, yes, yes. Everything around them, so, right. We're, we're here to kinda facilitate like, oh, maybe this is a life form. Maybe we need to take care of it. We need to take care of our environment. Cause instinctively we're curious and we just want to, you know, mess around with everything.

So, Yes, we do need to guide them a little bit. Right.

John Adduru: So, Ann how about you? What do you think about that? So do you think like they should just self construct this learning or I. They needed to be guided about this as well.

Ann Nishigaya: I mean, I think what Kai said is true. I mean, especially very young children, they, they don't know.

And you know, stepping on out seems like a fun thing. Or when they're interested in a flower, they'll pick it. So it's just curiosity. But I think it's a little bit of both because. For, you know, one of our things about TCG is, you know, we, we want to bring in that, that Japanese aesthetic of, you know, respecting your space and your environment and you being responsible for your space, which, you know why the children do zoukin and things like that.

But it also translate to outdoors as well, because this is their space. Arisugawa is where they go, so they need to be able to take care of it. And they want to, but sometimes they might not know how or which parts are okay. And I think we're very lucky because there's a playgroup in, in Arisugawa Park that's called Himawari Kai, which has been running for like 40 something years.

Right. And one of the, one of the students has grown up, and he's actually one of the instructors now. He grew up being in this Himawari Kai, so we get to go once a week with, we call him Kuma-San. And he gets to show us those parts of the park where it's okay to pick things or and, and other parts that are protected because there's a lot of protected trees and areas in Arisugawa Park.

So I think we're very lucky that, that, you know, the children get that kind of experience with him because he knows the park so well. Yes. But then they can translate that to other places so when they go to a new park, they might think first that, you know, maybe I shouldn't pick these leaves or, you know, maybe I need to find out, or, you know, they can be able to, you know, take that knowledge to other places.

John Adduru: Right. Right on.

Kai Chang: Also, nature is very giving, but it's also dangerous. So there are certain things that you shouldn't touch. Mushrooms especially. Right, right.

John Adduru: So since you brought that up, Kai, so how would you kind of like identify with the children or try to recognize with the children? Oh, okay. There's something that you cannot touch because you know it's poisonous or you know, it's not really something that we can touch because it's gonna hurt us.

So do you tell them these things or?

Kai Chang: Yeah, we definitely preface, like depending on the force that we go to, there might be signs and then the signs like, oh, watch out for hornets. Watch out for this kind of mushrooms. Right? And like the poison ivy. So that is something that they need to be aware of because those are hazards that if they're, if they're not aware of 'em, then they might get hurt as, whereas like risks, they're aware of it and they choose to take the risk.

So that's very different between hazards and risks. And hazards are the adult responsibility. Yes. Yes. So for example, when we, when TCG and iForest, when we go to Karuizawa, there are chances of bear. So yes. Wow. What, what do we do with the bear? We we do tell them if there's a bear, first of all, we always have bear bells and bear spray.


John Adduru: Basically there's like a risk management plan. Yes. For, for every, every scenario or every situation. So, yeah, I, I also want to tell the viewers that you know, Kai is a trained forest educator or forest school facilitator, right, Kai. So he knows what, basically what he's doing, and he's been studying about the, the first responders emergency what program as well.

So first aid and basic life support. So, Kai is well knowledgeable about that. So, because he wouldn't even venture into this kind of business if he doesn't know. Right. So it's pretty much for us like the, I want to put this out there as well. Like if you venture into forest education or forest school, Teachers or facilitators, make sure, please make sure that they are well trained, because I think one of the things that most of the parents are concerned about is like the safety of course, of their children.

And I could, I could tell you guys that, you know Kai is a, a, a professional and he's an expert in this forest school or forest education. And of course, like with Anne, with all the years of her experiences as an educator, as well as she knows what she's doing, so. Ann with this, with this, I want to ask you this question.

So how do you convince or do, do you inform, I wouldn't say convince, but how do you inform the parents about this forest trip or forest educational trip that you're gonna go to? And how did they respond to this? So did, did, did you get like a, a full on signup or some of them would rather stay home or some, some of them could just, okay.

Sign me up. I, I wanna go there.

Ann Nishigaya: , because our our forest weekends are in Karuizawa. Not every family can go, but we have regular families that come every time which is really nice because they see the difference in their children and how much they enjoy it. And then this past, we actually were here, went just this past weekend.

And it's toward the end of the year. And there was many children who had never been before who came this time. So I think they, they hear it from other parents and, and, and they can tell from the photos that you know, how much, how much amazing adventures they have. But we've never had to convince or anything.

I think especially being in Tokyo, parents understand that that opportunity to be in nature, yeah. Like that is hard to do in Tokyo. So they want to take advantage. Yes, yes. But going back to the risk management as well, actually Kai Hisao and myself, we actually did a workshop a month ago or so, and we're actually certified activity safety leaders now.

Lovely. Which, which talks about, so other, other, you know, schools and teachers too. If, if you wanna have some kind of background in the risk management, cuz this was actually, you know, it's, it's basic risk management, but it, it was concentrated on outdoor activities. Right. So, you know, defining the difference between the risks and the hazards and, and you know, how to evaluate the, the, the severity of them.

So it was quite interesting.

John Adduru: So what, what is this program again? How is it called? Activity Outside.


Ann Nishigaya: Activity. Safety Leader.

John Adduru: Activity. Safety Leader. Can, can you please tell me more about this program?

Ann Nishigaya: We've heard of it from the actual, from Karuizawa. The where we go is a place called Rising Field.

Mm. And one of the women there, I think she knew the man who did this. I see. It's, it's an organization and we just have the basic one, but there's different levels if you wanna go higher into it. And we were thinking that, you know, for us it was good, but we want all of our teachers to have this as well.

Yes. I think it's a really good way to think about risks and hazards and you, you know, and we can translate that into everything we do daily in, within Tokyo as well.

John Adduru: Yes, yes.

Kai Chang: Do that. So that one, that course was in Japanese unfortunately, so

Ann Nishigaya: it was a Japanese,

Kai Chang: how we can do it in English. Hopefully

John Adduru: if you signed this, you signed up on this one as well, right, Kai?

Kai Chang: Yes, correct.

John Adduru: So basically, yeah, even for, for foreigners, it's okay.

Kai Chang: I had a lot of help. I had a lot of help. I see, I see.

Ann Nishigaya: There's people who could translate while we were there. Yes.

Kai Chang: And then actually this, this course they do like poisonous plants and animals in Japan too. And other kinda risks like specialty courses.

John Adduru: I think it's really important for, for even like regular teachers to have these kinds of courses or programs because. I think it's really important for the children to go outside and you never know what's out there and for them to understand like, oh, okay, so the first thing that we need to do, if somebody can like, falls off from the, from the stairs or from the slide, what do you do?

Right? So, and I think like, it, it's, for me it's more like the safety of the children. So I, well, because I have this, I'm certified like basic life support practitioner because of my, clinical nursing background. So, and, and it's, it's pretty much not, not so complicated. If you want to kind of like, try to make it simplify in terms of getting the CPR training or, you know, c but I know that this activity safety program is pretty much different.

It's all about outdoor learning.

Ann Nishigaya: It, it's not about outdoor per se, but this one we were just concentrated trading cuz we were in in Karuizawa. Yes, yes. But this is more about the, you know, risk management, you know, the teaching risks and hazards and how, how we can minimize mm-hmm those,

John Adduru: the hazards. Yes. So in terms of the risk management, so let me go back to some of the teaching philosophies or the early, early child education philosophies that we have is the risky play.

So, I think it, it, it's kind of like one of the how should I say, trendy, you know approaches in terms of early childhood education. So can you tell us for our, for our listeners out there, can you tell us more about what risk at play is how it can benefit a regular classroom setting, and how can it benefit the, the, the, the whole development of the child?

Kai, would you like to go for it?

Kai Chang: Yeah. So risky play can be broken down into any of the climbing trees if you want, if you're, I mean, even running up the slide yes, could be considered risky. Tight ropes walking on trees, like all those are risky play. So actually we do do a lot of risky play, I think in the park as well.

John Adduru: Right.

Kai Chang: And that physical development translates into like cognitive development too. Cause like, when you're doing those kind of risky plays, the, the focus on the children when they're concentrating is tremendous. Like there's Right, neurons just like firing off hand-eye coordination. And that all translates, like, look at professional athletes, you know, it, they, it shows Sorry, what was the rest of the question?

John Adduru: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, like, I know, I know we're talking about the risky play, like how it's gonna benefit, you know. Yeah. The ch the childhood development or the child's development as a whole, you know. And you can, you can mention a lot of things, a lot of physical attributes and cognitive attributes and social even, and even emotional regulation.

You know, like, it, it can help because I think like there was this one study as well about, Looking at, that's why the, the, the, this forest is a very calming, it has this calming effect on children because of the, the, the color of a certain color. Mm. The green color, you know. So because it has this psychologically, most of this this psychologist would say that the green color can calm you down.

You know, something kind of like really earthy color can calm you down. And no wonder when the children are outside, they're just kind of like, their energy's like, like zen, you know? So, And I, I witnessed that, you know, when we had field trips as well in, in, in, in, in different places, especially like in parks, like where there would be lots of trees and all that.

And, and Anne, my question for you is also like, in terms of what do you call this? The, the, the risky play approach, right? So, because I know in the classroom there are also like like situations wherein children would like to do rough and tumble play. Right. So do you think, like when you started the, the, the forest education, that rough and tumble play kind of like lessened or it never happened in your classroom at all?

I, I think, mm, I don't know if our kids

Ann Nishigaya: actually really did much rough and tumble to be honest. Indoors. Yeah. I think because. Because we, we work on their interests and they do projects based on their interests and, and they can do their own thing. They don't have to, there's not one thing that everyone has to do at the same time.

John Adduru: Right.

Ann Nishigaya: I think, cause I have that focus, it, it's, it's much less physical than other schools perhaps. But the risky play is, I mean, it is important as Kai said, and, you know, having that confidence and, and, and, and. If children are too protected, they're never gonna learn their limits or want to try new things or, or so, you know, I think it's really important to have that risky play within school and within when they're outside.

And I have to say, in Japan, when I first came here, I think Japanese schools themselves have a lot, lots of risky play that, you know, in, in America, we would never do, you know, like Right. Putting the saws in the classroom or Right. You know, building fires with three year old, things like that, which I never did before.

But you know, with Kai we do that and, and it's amazing, you know, how competent they are at it and how well they, you know, they, they listen to the safety and it's, it's, for me, it's, it's amazing cuz I would never have thought to do that with, with preschoolers before.

Kai Chang: And, and like, one more thing on that could, this could be kind of trivial, is like, They will do it anyways, or they going to do it outside?

Or you give them, you provide them the environment to play with sticks. Mm-hmm. And swords and things like that. Or they do it inside like the, or somewhere. They need to release that kind of Right. Right. Energy as well. And outdoors is the perfect spot for you. You're not, you don't have to worry about breaking anything.

That's true.

John Adduru: That's true. So in relation to, again, to going outdoors one of the questions that I, that I was like also thinking, you know, like rain or shine, right? You go outside, yes. It doesn't matter if, if the weather is bad, you go, am I correct? Yes. Yes. So how thunderstorm weather, right? Does it affect, you know, the children's learning or it's just the same or it's much even better?

Kai Chang: Well, they, they know how to regulate themselves. So that's what we strive for as educators is independence. Mm-hmm. So in that right now, the heat, the humidity, like what, what are we going to do in its raining season? So we've been going out all last week and yesterday and today. So yes, it's the choice of do you want to get wet or do you want to wear a raincoat and stay dry and.

Actually right now, a lot of them prefer to be wet. And

John Adduru: so you ask the children, you ask the children first.

Kai Chang: Yes, they can, they can choose if they want to wear their rain hood, or we look at the weather and we're like, oh, what should we wear when we go outside? Okay, may maybe I want my raincoat today, or maybe not.

And the learning from that is when we get closer to the colder time of the year. Yeah. They realize it's cold when they get wet, so then they don't really wanna get wet right now. It's perfect. They don't mind it. And they will learn how to sell, regulate. So I think that's the best part.

John Adduru: That's amazing.

And then, and then Anne with your, your outdoor trips as well. Rain or shine, you go Yeah.

Ann Nishigaya: We go outside rain or shine. And I think the nice thing about the the rain is, you know, you know when they know a place where the, well, like Arisugawa that we go to every day mm-hmm. It's very different in the rain.

John Adduru: Right.

Ann Nishigaya: How it looks, how it smells, how it feels. It's all very different. So it's like rediscovering it all again. Mm. And also I wish other schools would go out in the rain. But actually right now, the nice thing is most schools don't go out in the rain. So we have the parks to ourselves. Yes. It's only us.

So that's also kind of a, a new element, you know? Mm-hmm. Having the entire park, just us, it's, it's quite nice actually.

Kai Chang: Maybe we can edit that so the other schools don't go out. Go out.

Ann Nishigaya: Actually, that's one of the places I met Kai. I met, I bumped into Kai after years and years of not seeing him in Arisugawa Park on a rainy day because we were the only ones there, basically.

Right, right.

John Adduru: I mean, like when I was in Shanghai, you know rain or shine, we, we had to go outside and the children were wearing these kinds of like, what we call it, the, the, the muddy pajamas. You know, they, they have this, Overalls that they need to put on. And you know, even if they jump into the puddle, it's fine.

It's, it's, it's fun actually. It's not just fine, it's fun. So yeah, I think that's the importance of really like the outdoor place to experience a different, whether as well, whether there's rain or there's it's humid or it's, you know, it's cold. I think it really helps their physical attributes as well, like in their immune system.

So, It is really kind of like developed and, and boosted. So I think, yeah, I think that the pandemic as well really hit us hard. Hey, it's pretty much we were not able to go outside and I feel like we should be going outside more to the nature when that happened, the pandemic happened, right? So, but for me, we all have our, our, our strategies on how to get by to this pandemic.

And I'm glad that we are slowly, slowly transitioning to where we need to be. So, Yes. I think that's about it. We, we, we, we covered the entire thing, so thank you so much, Ann and, and, and Kai. Is there anything else before we, we say goodbye to our listeners or viewers? Would there be anything else would you like to share or impart?

From this podcast so that we can disseminate this information to, to everybody about what you do and, and where they can find you and, and what do they expect or what will they expect when they. Enroll into your schools. So let's go with, with with Ann first.

Ann Nishigaya: Actually, ca not, not specifically enrolling in my school or anything, but actually one thing I wanted to say earlier is actually Kai knows very well I was never an outdoor person before.

I was definitely afraid of bugs and I would rather stay indoors. Yeah. But pre pandemic, so maybe about four years ago I was at the NAECY conference in America and I took, I was at an outdoor, outdoor play conference. Mm. And the man there, he shared the study that he had been doing and it was a really eye, an eye-opener for me because it was slightly older kids, I think they were kindergarten, first graders, but he had asked thousands of children to draw their idea of the future.

And half of the children had, you know, nobody was living on earth. We were living, you know, on different planets or that, you know, the earth was barren and dead, so we had to live in the sky. Mm. And then half had these, you know, beautiful lush, you know, the earth and, you know, were living in trees and things.

And after he, you know, he. He saw the difference in, in the drawings and their idea of the future. He asked them where they got this information from. And the children who thought of, you know, the future as being bleak and that we couldn't live on the earth anymore. It was from TV and movies, right? But the children who had this kind of positive view of the future and that, you know, the, the earth could be beautiful even a hundred years from now, it was from adults in their, in their, in their life. And so as someone who didn't really like nature before, it was like, you know, so important that we give this love of nature and you know, the importance of to the children so that they can make a difference. Cuz otherwise, if they think the future is, it's gonna be bleak, there's no reason to try to save the earth.

It's, you know, we're gonna live out of space anyway. So for me, that was like my turning point and, and, mm-hmm. Really, you know why it's so important to give children this love of nature.

John Adduru: Thank you.

Kai Chang: I'm actually so of proud of Ann there was a bug on my should the other weekend, she she actually. Took it off. And so as a non insect lover it just shows even adults can learn by repetition.

You just go out and you just do it and you just be in it. And then you can realize that nature's not that scary anymore.

Ann Nishigaya: Yes. Completely, completely changed me actually.

Kai Chang: Yeah. And I think I would also just recommend all the schools out there. Just, just do it. Just go out once, dedicate a day. And then just go out no matter what.

Yes. So I think anybody in Tokyo can also do that.

Ann Nishigaya: Actually, one, the other thing I was gonna say too, you know, we've been doing this for school for about a year, but because I was always scared of the bugs in the past, I couldn't really enjoy it. But these past couple months going and being able to enjoy this space, because I'm not have this fear of bugs, it's very, very different than being in Tokyo.

I never understood that I had. Stress in Tokyo. But in Tokyo, because you always have to worry about traffic and bicycles and things like that in the forest, you don't have that because, you know, it's, it's just open. And children can, you know, be farther away from you and enjoy and explore in a way that you just can't do in the middle of Tokyo.

And I hadn't appreciated that before. And the freedom it gives you, it's, it's quite amazing actually.

John Adduru: Amazing. Okay, So Kai any, any, any words that you would like to impart to the listeners or viewers?

Kai Chang: Yeah, I mean, I, I, I just decided just, just go out, dedicate one day, just right. You can. We can all do it. And if you wanna come with me, we can also go together.

Ann Nishigaya: Everyone should go with Kai at least once.

John Adduru: So, yeah, so please promote again, your, your i international forest school. Kai?

Kai Chang: Yes. iforestschool.com. We're also on Instagram. I Forest school. Jp.

John Adduru: Yes. So look for Kai Kai Chang. So the founder and the director of this school. So amazing. Thank you, John. Amazing School. And for Anne Tokyo Children's Garden, one of the best schools here in preschools here in Tokyo.

So Anne, I'll get to see you next week. Yes, hopefully. Thank you, John. Yes. Thank you, Ann. All right. Thank you so much, both of you. Yeah. Listeners, to the listeners out there, so please try even for the teachers parents, please go out with your children. Go for a hike. Enjoy the nature. Love the nature. I am a, a a, a a person who loves trees and I paint.

I,  bring my paintbrush. I bring my sketchbook, my pen or or pencil. And I just sit down for long hours of the day when I have the free time just to sketch and paint because it gives me this kind of like serenity every day. So I hope for you, for the parents, for the teachers, or for whoever is working with the children, for the caretakers, guardians, whoever, please try it out with your, Children because it's gonna bring a positive, very, very positive and meaningful and unforgettable impact in their lives.

And who knows you're gonna be, maybe you're gonna be the key in, in, in preserving and sustaining our, our earth and to be able to live with it for many, many years to come. Yeah. Thank you so much, Kai and Ann again, I hope to see you one day, Kai, because we need to set it up. And I'll definitely see you next week just to say thank you for everything.

And yes, we're signing off. So thank you for listening to our TAIP conversations. Have a great day. Thanks for listening. Thank you. Bye. Thank you.

Thank you for listening to TAIP conversations. This has been a presentation of the Tokyo Association of International Preschools. To find out more, please visit our website www.tokyopreschools.org. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please help to spread the word.

Learn More:

Stay Informed

Please provide your email address below to get our TAIP Newsletter.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Privacy policy:
Your email address is never sold or given out to anyone. We will only use this email list for our newsletter and one-way emails from TAIP. You can unsubscribe from the list at anytime.