Moving to the country you would think that we would be out and about in the fresh air every day. I envisaged long walks, cycle rides, woodland exploring, enjoying nature… In fact the opposite is true! There are no footpaths near us, so walking with small children is not an option and the 50mph speed limit is slightly off putting for beginner cyclists! The result is that we find ourselves driving a lot more than we used to. C and I enjoy driving through the the beautiful surroundings but today L reminded me, “like I keep telling you mummy, I don’t. like. looking. at. just. treeeees.” he likes to see ‘the distance’. Bless him!
Needless to say we were very excited when we found out about a local Forest School. So now, once a week, whatever the weather, we spend a fun and productive three and a half hours in the woods with a wonderful Forest School leader – Adrian Goodhand.
Forest Schools are great; the opportunity to develop social and emotional skills through child led and self motivated activities. They learn to take risks, problem solve and co-operate in a way that indoor activities just can’t provide. This hands on learning, the self awareness that develops, can’t be compartmentalised into neat little curriculum boxes, which is perhaps why the Executive Head at my son’s old school put a stop to it. No measurable results, no tangible impact on test results. Not much more I can say there.
At our FS, Adrian has the perfect balance of appearing very laid back but with the authority needed to ensure everything is safe and runs smoothly. Children have complete freedom to explore with careful guidance and encouragement. His tone if something needs mentioning is always non confrontational. There are so many more powerful ways to say ‘be careful’ and he seems to naturally find these, meaning that children (and indeed adults, myself included!) are in the position of reflecting on their actions and making any necessary amendments to keep themselves and others safe.
Some months ago I stumbled upon a lovely blog written by ‘Teacher Tom’. Last week he wrote about this same subject from his pre school perspective, and sums it up better than I can…
“Every time we say “be careful” we express, quite clearly, our lack of faith in our children’s judgement, which too often becomes the foundation of self-doubt.”
I am going to try to keep this in mind from now on. Our words can be so powerful.
And on that note, I’m not going to write any more about Adrian’s Forest school. My almost 8 year old will be taking over…
Have you ever herd of forest school? It is not actually a school, it is like an outdoor camp in the woods where we explore and have fun for 3 and a half hours!
When everyone arrives we collect firewood for the fire. It is important because everybody works together and then you feel proud because you know that you helped make the fire. Some people get to use the special lighter to get a spark to light a piece of cotton wool and then you put the cotton wool on the fire and then the fire has begun ready for our lunch, and hot drinks.
On my second week I had a go at making a spark, I felt just a tiny bit scared because I thought I might burn myself because the scraper wasn’t that long and my hand was really near the spark. It’s quite a good feeling as well because you’re trying out a bit dangerous things, new things, in a safe way.
Click here to watch me doing it: IMG_8337
You can help you’re self to Adrian’s tools (Adrian has lots of tools) and whittle spears or make a den. But you have to get permission off of Adrian to use the whittling knife because it is sharp!!!
I like making dens because it feels like they are secret hideouts!
Whittling spears and cooking pizza was fun, to whittle a spear I used a whittling knife and green wood fresh out of a tree, to make the pizza we made the dough and put on cheese salami and then bacon! We cooked the calzone pizzas on our fire and then ate it. It was delicious.
Don’t go into the fenced of bits that is somebody else’s land, and they mite not like it.
I recommend you come,or find forest school near you!
Written by C age 7