Help to Open the First Bilingual Forest School BOIS
Connecting children to nature and getting inspired outdoors
Help to Open the First Bilingual Forest School BOIS
What will education look like in a post-COVID-19 world? Will our young children no longer be able to play because they will be seated so far apart from each other? Will early childhood education be ever more competitive and individualised? Or maybe we take these exceptional circumstances as an opportunity to allow children the freedom of movement and discovery once again by being outside the classroom more often during school hours? What if we redesigned the educational process by making the learning happen outdoors, in nature or in an urban park, so that kindergarteners can explore the natural world around them, building close friendships and a sense of community, while at the same time being protected from pesky viruses … what if we proposed outdoor education?
Forest school BOIS asbl
BOIS (BESSONOVA OUTDOOR IMMERSION SCHOOL) is the first bilingual outdoor school in Brussels facilitating the learning of pre-school children in a natural environment, in one of the urban parks of Brussels. We believe that the role of any school in contemporary society is to raise a new generation of responsible earthlings who care for and sustain nature, and for the planet, as a whole. The core objective of BOIS asbl is to reconnect children to nature and to live sustainably, in close connection with the surrounding community as well as to facilitate every child’s potential by building self-confidence and empathy.
Thus, BOIS asbl supports child-led learning and helps children to discover who they are through free play. We respect young children’s freedom to explore through their senses and truly believe it enhances health and well-being, confidence and empathy, growth mindset and emotional resilience. This is the natural way for children to acquire knowledge and languages, build their capacity and skills, discover their talents, and care for the natural heritage.
BOIS is based on the well-reputed , nature-oriented Nordic educational model with a touch of the most recent research-based educational innovation introduced by our founder and educational designer from Estonia, Julia Bessonova. Having conducted research work in the subject of outdoor education, she was able to test the school model by running a two-year pilot project to fine-tune how the multilingual forest school should look like. So, in BOIS, school children spend up to 70 % time outdoors whatever the weather - www.boischool.be. The role of the educator at BOIS is to build a solid relationship with every child in order to be guided by children’s personalities supporting their development at their own pace.
In BOIS school, our goal is community-based living, thus, children aged between 2.5 and 6 are organized in mixed-aged groups to enable natural social learning suggested by Vygotsky, the founder of the sociocultural theory of learning. As a multilingual school, BOIS promotes balanced bilingual learning (in French and Dutch) accompanied by exposure to English and up to 3 additional family languages within our community. We celebrate every culture and every individuality. And we need your support!
Allocation of funds
Although outdoor schools are globally recognised and often subsidised method schools, it is not yet the case in Belgium. In order to bring outdoor culture to the local mindset we have taken on the challenge and have made the first step in this direction by launching the BOIS school, which will not be yet another exclusive international school. On the contrary, we, as an NGO, aim at being local and accessible, but we realise that this might be a long journey. Therefore, we are organising this crowdfunding campaign to enable us to cover the start-up costs and launch the very first full-time forest school in Belgium.
There are several areas where your support is needed. First, are the fixed start-up costs related to rent, space renovation and decoration, furniture, and equipment. The legislation requires every childcare to have their indoor space conform with certain criteria, even if in our case we will hardly use the indoor space, which obviously increases the total cost of the project. Secondly we would need outdoor-related tools and instruments for children to explore nature in a fun way, such as various walking ropes, hammocks, trolley for tools, rain covers, magnifying glasses, and gardening tools. All of those should be of good quality, durable and sustainable (non plastic). Third, there are the human resource related expenses, unlike indoor, every outdoor class requires the full-time engagement of at least 2 trained educators for safety and educational purposes. Besides, we need to launch and sustain the teachers’ training programme to train inspired traditional teachers to become confident and resourceful outdoor educators as there is no such training available elsewhere in the country. Thus, our educators related expenses are doubled compared to traditional schools.
The BOIS team is working hard to seek government’s support in structural funding, but it seems to be a long-term dialogue. Thus, at this moment, we are entirely dependent on the financial contribution from the parents and this is a heavy burden. We genuinely believe in the amazing potential of outdoor education to promote active pedagogy and children’s wellbeing and we dream of a time when outdoor would be a natural part of every pre-school’s curriculum. So we are starting this journey here and now and we are inviting you to join us to make a meaningful change in education and childhood well-being.
How will the money be spent?
As a volunteer community, we are taking your support very seriously. We tried to reflect and be as specific in our needs as possible, so you have a clear view of what your support will be spent on.
To celebrate the launch of BOIS, in September 2020, we are organising a housewarming party - and you are cordially invited to join us on this special day. We will share kindness, gratitude, and positivity while being immersed in the beautiful natural environment. You will receive a personalised invitation by email and long-lasting memories from this event. We are also happy to express our gratefulness to every backer by posting a thank you card on your facebook or Instagram account upon request.
Here is how we will treat your donations:
Your solidarity is incredibly important for us!
We will spend on buying magnifying glasses, gardening and related small tools to enable children to explore nature hands-on. With 25 EUR we can give every second child in the group a magnifying glass.
We will spend on buying and maintaining more advanced equipment for outdoor learning and play, such as ropes, outdoor hammocks, rain covers, natural paints, trolley for transporting the tools as well as water and snacks needed to spend long hours outdoors. Also, the wooden toys and materials for the indoor activities. With 50 EUR we can buy 1 walking rope or a set of natural paint that will last for a month.
We will spend on teacher’s training and training materials to introduce outdoor education principles to Belgian teachers and enable them to feel confident when working outdoors with children. 100 EUR covers one out of 5 core modules of the outdoor training for 1 educator.
Bonus from BOIS: we will send you an original leaflet introducing core principles of outdoor learning and 5 fun outdoor activities for your family and friends.
We will buy the necessary children’s furniture to transform our indoor space into a cosy and multi-purpose shelter, where children can eat hot organic meals, have a nap, read/watch a book or engage in a board game and art activity. 250 EUR is needed to buy a dishwasher or a set of dishes for the group.
Bonus: We offer a half-day experience in our forest school for your 3-6 y.o. child.
We will cover the renovation works in the basement to transform the space into an underwater-themed napping room and sensory room for young sensory seekers. 400 EUR covers the renovation of one wall or a part of the ceiling.
Bonus: we offer one full-day experience in our forest school for your 3-6 y.o. child.
We can pay 1 month of rent for our indoor space, which we must have according to Belgian law and which conforms to the regional learning space requirements.
Bonus: Participation in one of the training sessions for parents and educators on outdoor education. You may choose any other bonus mentioned above.
We can pay the teacher assistant for almost 1 month. As a non-for-profit independent school we need this support in order to ensure a safe and pleasant outdoor experience for children who need to be accompanied by 2 educators at all times outdoors.
Bonus: an exclusive sensorial walk in a magical night forest where you will be able to plunge into yourself to rediscover your perception. You may choose any other option mentioned above.
Our long-term goals
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" (с)
Launching BOIS - the very first outdoor school - is an essential step on the path to official recognition and implementation of outdoor education as a method in Belgium. BOIS will become a role model and inspiration for other public schools especially in our post-covid world. Creating such a school model, which in turn is based on a well-established Scandinavian approach, is incredibly important as it can serve as a reference. We want to inspire other schools to implement outdoor learning and free play in their curriculum. Therefore, launching BOIS creates a hub for outdoor educators and helps Brussels communities to discover the potential of outdoor education as an alternative solution in the post-covid context of traditional schooling.
Over time, BOIS asbl wants to launch more BOIS schools in different areas of Brussels, Belgium, and beyond. Creating a network of ‘replicas’ will facilitate the official recognition of the method in order to receive state support and subsidies, thus, making outdoor education accessible to every family. We sincerely welcome every interested person to join our community and to make this dream a reality. For any enquiries and suggestions you can contact us via email@example.com.
Have a wonderful summer and get inspired by the outdoors!
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