“You will find something far greater in the woods than you will find in books. Stones and trees will teach you that which you will never learn from masters.” Saint Bernard
Our children (owls and kites) have the use of our own on-site Forest school on a regular basis 1-2 times a week or more often (depending on the theme of the month). Each session will last at least 1.5-2 hours. Our babies do join us occasionally, e.g. if we are having a teddy bear picnic.
Before each lesson starts our practitioners will carry out the initial site risk assessment to make sure it is safe and secure and no major changes happened since the last visit that might cause problems. This is recorded and appropriate action is taken if necessary.
It is important that the basic needs of our children are met before any higher learning can take place (Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs). So our practitioners will make sure that the children have the appropriate clothing and footwear they are not hungry (usually we go out straight after a snack or just before tea if we are having a picnic in the woods).
We also encourage children to bring and carry their own water bottles. Once in the woods we go through our safety procedures, hygiene and routine.
Sometimes we start the session by letting the children to explore the site establishing physical and behavioural boundaries. Very often we will play a game like hide and seek, treasure hunt or busy bees, etc.
Our main activities are designed around the needs of the group and are child-led. They would follow a theme which sometimes be subtle such as exploring the site. Our children love picking up sticks to build an activity course, or shapes on the ground, bug hunting, environmental art, shelter building, lighting fires or tree climbing.
The activities are set up so that they are within capabilities of every child. Individual child’s progress is evaluated and activities re-adjusted to meet each child’s requirements.
At the end of the session sometimes we use our log sitting area to have a calm discussion about what they have done and what they liked or didn’t like about the session. On other occasions the children could be asked to shout out what they have experienced.
Each of our forest school sessions is unique just as each and every child.