Your Name: Parityada Punthapong (Kiki)
Job Title: Co-founder and Director, Outdoor School Bangkok
What is your nationality and background?
I am Thai. I was born in Thailand. I spent my childhood in many countries where I got exposed to different educational systems and cultures – one of which was Sweden.
What is your profession?
I have been teaching as an adjunct lecturer at Assumption University since I was 24 years old; more recently, I am the co-founder and director of Outdoor School Bangkok
What are the key skills and responsibilities of this role?
As a director, I am responsible for all aspects of the program – making sure all wheels are turning. I oversee the operation of the facility, ensuring the children are are given a safe, happy, and purposeful educational environment.
How did you get involved in your profession?
After I became a mother myself, I soon realized there was a shortage (or absence) of kindergarten in Bangkok that children can experience, discover and learn in nature. So I started the kindergarten that offer young children a lifelong learning experience through regular play outdoors in a natural setting.
What challenges do your face in this role?
The greatest challenge would be outdoor play is far more important than most parents realize. Although growing research has been showing the importance of play outside the classroom in a purposeful and challenging environment provides essential learning opportunities for children. In Thailand, there is still a wide spread mindset of avoidance when forming opinions on outdoor play. Parents or caregivers can deny children the opportunity for learning and development in outdoor play, replacing it with the fear of what might go wrong. For some children this can create risks itself with children making the wrong decisions as a result of insufficient experience of managing risk.
What do you hope to achieve within your industry?
I often envision helping children to grow not only physically or mentally but also emotionally. I envision children being children – happy, healthy and satisfied but at the same time smart enough to think critically for this may be one of the most important skills that today’s children will need for the future
Who or what inspires you?
My children inspire me. While there are so many valuable things that they’ve taught me, one of the biggest thing that I’ve learned working with children is that there is always joy. Many times, children see joy in mess – they see fun in rain puddles. For me, this mess represents our problems and challenges and so I’m learning to look for the joy in the messes too.
Only a Bangkok local would know… You might want to check out Science Square if you’re looking for some fun science activities for kids during weekends. It is a science based museum conveniently situated in the heart of Bangkok in the famous Chamchuri Square, a shopping mall on the corner of Rama IV Road and Phayathai Road.
For more information on Outdoor School Bangkok, click here.