How Free Spirits Began
Hello, I'm Gemma, the founder of Free Spirits Education & Childcare. I decided to expand my existing after-school tutoring business into daytime childcare after looking around at schools for my daughter due to start Reception class. I came to the conclusion - shared by many - that no matter how lovely our local schools may be, our state education system is, unfortunately, deeply flawed.
My experience from working in state primary schools is that children usually start school happily skipping into Reception class, but are gradually turned off education as the pressure mounts. Children are inquisitive beings, yet our schooling system drains the joy out of them with relentless testing and arbitrary expected levels of achievement that make them feel like failures if they don’t develop at the designated rate. To me, this is not what education is about. I want better for my children.
Occupational therapists warn that expecting young children to use a tripod pencil grip for extended periods of time is bad for their development and posture, as the lax tendons and immature ossification of bones in the hand cause discomfort and prevent proper development. Children’s bodies are made for moving and growing, not sitting and writing.
The alternative education movement is rapidly growing. It seems we all have an innate sense that children learn best through play, exploration, discovery and imaginative experiences, with plenty of time spent outdoors, yet our Government pressurises teachers to train children to work towards academic targets which inevitably leads to a skewed curriculum centred around ticking boxes, obtaining results and conformity. Our children deserve better than this. They deserve to be free spirits that they are!
I began my four year B. Ed (Hons) QTS primary teaching degree 20 years ago and have worked in a variety of educational establishments ever since, as a state school primary school teacher, SEN resource base leader,1:1 special needs HLTA and a private tutor.
I am currently working towards a Diploma in Steiner Waldorf Education with the Waldorf Institute, held at the Ringwood Waldorf School, where I have also been involved with the Parent & Child classes for the last four years. I also have a 1-year Certificate of Higher Education in Business Management. I am passionate about children having access to meaningful and enriching educational experiences in a stress-free environment, and wish to provide such an opportunity for young children based primarily on the Steiner Waldorf ethos, and also drawing inspiration from Forest School and Montessori methods.
I live rurally east of Salisbury with my husband and two young children.