Fiddlewood Farm & School strives to connect students with nature

April 8, 2024 | 12:10 am

Updated April 8, 2024 | 12:08 am

Fiddlewood Farm and School, a local faith-based educational opportunity, aims to get homeschooled students off their phones and connected with nature as a supplement for social activities alongside their typical studies.

The afterschool program began in 2020 when Shelly Tyler was looking for ways to help her daughter work on her coordination skills. Using her experience as a physical therapist, Tyler coordinated outdoor activities for her daughter, and when her daughter’s friends started coming over, they joined the fun.

“A lot of times when kids came over they were wondering where the video games are and we tell them, ‘We don’t have any, but we can go play outside,’” Tyler said. “When they got outside, they would completely just be transported to a different world. They were jumping and playing and exploring and just never wanted to leave our house.”

After seeing how engaged the children were, she realized that the social benefit the youngsters were getting was something that each of them could utilize. Each time she takes the children out to explore, Tyler said, she finds a way to tie in some learning.

The Fiddlewood structure is based on the Forest School in Louisville, Tyler said. She sets out to ensure the school teaches students socially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

“We’ve felt it was the perfect environment for kids to learn. I invited some of my daughter’s friends that I knew were homeschooled, and I started that 3 years ago. It has just continued to grow, and a lot of the same kids come,” she said.

Fiddlewood operates every Monday and Wednesday during the school year for homeschooled kids aged 4-11. Programming can include trimming sheep’s hooves, learning about animal birthing processes, and working in related vocabulary words along the way. Tyler said they’re outside, rain or snow and hot or cold.

When school is not in session, they offer camps so students can still fulfill their social needs. Camps are often capped at 15 students — roughly one adult to every five children.

The camps emulate the same practice as the school but over a 1-week period. Sign-ups often occur on Facebook, with Tyler saying there can be a long waiting list.

The school is faith-based, so Tyler still sets out to base all the lessons on scripture. Through such lessons, Tyler said she has seen students grow and develop in every area from emotional balance to communication skills.

Tyler also stresses the importance of community to her students.

“The culture that I have really worked on is that we are kind to each other, and we help each other. So, it promotes this community and helpfulness. Also, just resiliency. It’s amazing what a kid can do when they are put in a situation where they need to do it. They can really rise to the occasion,” she said.

For more information about Fiddlewood or the camps, visit their Facebook page.

April 8, 2024 | 12:10 am

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