Q&A with Wildschooling creator Nicolette Sowder
Nicolette Sowder is the creator of Wilder Child and the Wildschooling movement. Her online community is an incredible source of inspiration for parents and educators alike. As long-time fans of Nicolette’s work, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to conduct this interview. We hope you find this Q&A as interesting and inspiring as we did!
What is your favorite outdoor childhood memory?
I remember vacationing in upper Michigan and walking out the end of a dock at night with my cousins. No one was talking (this was rare as there were so many of us!), some lay on their backs to stare up at the sky. I remember sitting up with my feet hanging over the edge of the dock, my toes skimming the surface of the water and swirling up the stars so brilliantly reflected there.
What inspired you to found Wilder Child?
When we moved to our current farm, it was really a shock. It was the first time I had been surrounded on all sides by nature. My daughter was one when we moved and we grew together - our connection to the land and to each other became indistinguishable. Honestly, I started sharing the experience to just try to articulate what I was feeling, but it ended up resonating with a lot of families. Now, it’s about so much more than my experience.
For those that aren’t familiar, will you share a bit about the philosophy behind Wildschooling?
Everyone wants a curriculum, but more than anything I think of Wildschooling as a state of being designed to honor and support our innate, inexorable bond with nature and lend a voice to our inner wild. We may no longer live in the village, but the village still lives in us. It’s our human right to claim that inheritance and access that sacred connection. Access is a keyword-diversity and inclusion is an important part of Wildschooling, one that I am committed to weaving into the fiber of this movement.
Your Wildschooling Facebook group has really blown up! What’s been the biggest reward - and the biggest challenge - about facilitating such a large online community?
The biggest reward is seeing it live and thrive without me controlling every aspect of it. The community is so vibrant that it has taken on a life of its own and that’s what I hoped for - to see these virtual connections spill off the page into the every day. The biggest challenge is never feeling like I am giving enough. There are so many things I want to provide for the community, but I’m home most of the day with my daughters and during that time my focus is completely on them. By the time I get to work at night, I’m not at my best! But, I’m trying to accept that this is just where it’s at right now. One thing is for sure, I couldn’t manage the group without the strong, supportive Wildschooling admin team that we have.
What’s one pro tip you’d offer parents looking to spend more time outdoors with their children?
I would say it’s not about the time. It’s about the relationship. Long-distance runners spend hours outside, but they might not necessarily be connecting to nature that much. Even a small moment for a child can have a huge impact, and having that moment within the context of their relationship with a loving, trusted guide - that’s going to mean so much.
Finish this sentence: "Spending time in nature makes me feel…”
…like I’m home.