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Monty Python advises Assessing for Opportunities ‘A4O’ or Benefits Analysis

February 18, 2015

Always look on the Bright Side of Life!

I believe that is what the Monty Python Team sang in one of their Films

1623363_254250071402786_1806562203_nI have taken this advice and since Archimedes started training leaders back in early 2002 our Policy on Risk is that the word itself conjures up negativity and a can’t do it attitude. We revoked this and began the mantra ‘Assessing for Opportunities’

As professional experience grows, the ability to be intuitive and almost unconsciously detect and be aware of potential hazards and evaluate the probability as well as the severity if the harm happening is undisputed. Its called ‘Longevity of Practice’

stockvault-the-farm-life104242The farm life by Charl Christiani

But we have to start from somewhere.  Being able to break down the assessment and evaluation process, allows us as the Safety Officer, – as that is what we become if we are responsible for keeping others safe and well – to make judgements that allow us to put in place preventative measures – our Normal Operating Procedures  and Emergency Action Plans.

When we have put preventative measures in place it is at this point that we know that ever precaution within our power has been taken so we are then free to offer the widest range of possibilities, opportunities and experiences to those we are caring for and whom we are actin Loco Parentis.

When we are covering all bases it is then and only then that we can begin to provide freedom for our children to explore and for them to learn through experience and self initiated investigations.

The Health and Safety Executive supports the concept of leaders, teachers, practitioners considering the benefits of the experience along side that of the considered risk.

Children need challenge and children need to experience hazards that can cause harm. Our job is to identify the benefits and make a judgement as to whether the benefit outweighs the potential harm from the hazard if it actually happens.

stockvault-childhood-memories102844Childhood Memories by Elli Garnett

Ferre Leavers uses a measure of Challenge as an indicator of Well being in children and states that if the incorrect level is not provided, or children can not experience dealing with challenge, then they will not mature, will not feel ‘well’ and will not become engages with the opportunities or the experiences that you provide. Challenge adds a dimension to learning that is essential for holistic development to occur. Intact without challenge certain traits will be absent as children grow into adulthood. Without these traits there is a greater risk of harm, both physical as well as psychological. this can lead to mental health issues, stress, anxiety, antisocial behaviour as well as self harm and suicide. 

Providing children with the right levels of challenge and exposure to the right levels and the right kinds of risk allow health development physically, intellectually, linguistically, emotionally, socially as well as spiritually.

The concept is becoming a greater prevalence and is becoming an acceptable process now in play, adventure and education, and through pioneers such as Tim Gill in his book, Nothing Ventured; Balancing Benefits and Risks in the Outdoors and Living in  Risk Adverse Society the powers that be are allowing those with an urgent desire to allow our children to play outdoors, to do exactly that.

There are a number of very good places to look and to investigate when considering  Assessing for Opportunity – A4O.

  1. Bath and North East Somerset Council developed the Tool kit for Benefits Analysis
  2.  Health and Safety Executive Children’s Play and Leisure, Promoting a Balanced Approach

So when the process of Assessing for Opportunities commenced in 2000 through our process and procedures and a desire to look positively, to use a method concentrating on aspirational language and take away the negative connotations and biased view of Risk Assessments, I am pleased to see that it is now becoming common practice by outdoor professionals throughout the world and supported by the government and other official authorities giving us more freedom to explore and to create positive learning opportunities for out children.

 

 

Get Children Outdoors

Forest Schools Baseline Assessments

February 17, 2015
Popcorn and sharing

Popcorn and sharing

Baseline Assessments are the initial 6 weeks of your long term Forest Schools Programme and you will deliver well planned, well prepared and well practiced

In order to run any session, especially those first 6 weeks that comprise the initial elements as part of the Baseline Assessment there are basic requirements that are needed in order to provide you with the information you require as a practitioner to assess children’s levels of development in order to provide them with the best opportunities for their life ahead.

156873_247374625423664_1235936706_nWithout this initial assessment you have no information on present levels of development in the outdoors in the recognised areas of Social, Physical, Intellectual, Communication & Language, Emotional and Spiritual. These are commonly called the areas of Holistic Development.

There are ‘normal’ ranges for children and we are not suggesting that all children are the same, but it is acknowledged that in order for children to to grow into independence and adulthood these guidelines are suitable to be used as a reference model and tool. (The handouts for Archimedes Forest Schools Education Trainees includes this information for easy reference. It includes the expected ranges of ability for babies and children up to the ages of 5 years and you can use these as your reference point during the 6 week baseline assessment evaluations)

To create your Baseline Assessment for all the areas, collate info for each child through your observations, monitor and then evaluate your findings. As a result of that report you can devise a programme to support each area of development for each child by providing resources and opportunities for the children to experience a full range of possibilities and opportunities.

This will inevitably maximise the potential for each child or learner to grow and mature appropriately giving then the best opportunity to enter into the state of the ‘Capable Learner’ to ensure ‘Personal Sustainability’

The Baseline Assessment process is essential for you as a leader and practitioner in order to find out where each of the learners starting point is at the beginning of th long term programme.

This will include what a baseline state is in terms of emotional and ‘normal’ ways of behaving for that child, regarding both neutral and positively challenging but also overly challenging situations. It includes S>P>I>C>E>S. (Social, Physical, Intellectual, Communication, Emotional and Spiritual) for that particular child. Each child is unique and each child will be different but there are ‘norms’ none the less.

  • The Observation Form provided on training will assist you in collecting the information that includes:
  1. Wellbeing Scores of 1 to 5
  2. Levels of Challenge 1 to 5
  3. Social Language
  4. Eye Contact
  5. Behaviour, positive, neutral, negative
  6. Relationship with Peers
  7. Relationship with Adults, significant i.e. leaders and insignificant e.g. irregular visitor or volunteers

 

Mark making

  • Your Benefits Analysis Profiles
  1. This will include how the opportunities provided each session can benefit the child or group. It is common to use the areas of development from SPICES. (See next Article)
  • Risk Assessment
  1. Site
  2. Weather and general Welfare
  3. Collecting Natural Material
  4. Using Rope and String
  5. Being Raised up off the ground (e.g. Tree Climbing)
  6. Blind Fold Activities
  7. Using Water
  • Programme Aims for the Baseline Assessment
  1. Consider what the purpose of the first  weeks are to achieve
  2. What do you want to find out
  3. How are you going to do it
  4. How will you break down the programme into sessions
  • Theoretical Process
  1. Which theoretical processes will you be using in order to support children and have a framework for your observation e.g.
    1. Schema (Piaget)
    2. Multiple Intelligences (SMARTS)
    3. Play Types (Bob Hughes)
    4. Taxonomy of Learning
    5. Zone of Proximal Development (Vygotsky)

 

  • Programme Planning
  1. What experiences will you provide in week one that will give you the information you need in order to plan for the week after (observation of child’s intrinsic motivations)
  2. This will include opportunities for children to explore and to have opportunities for you to observe all areas of holistic development as well as their relationship to self, peers, adults and environment
  3. What will your reflection processes be to find out what the children have learnt and to ensure children can transfer learning by the end of the session.
  4. What is your delivery methodology
    1. Visual
    2. Auditory
    3. Kinaesthetic
    4. Auditory Digital (thinking about thinking)
    5. Individual
    6. Pairs
    7. Group

 

  • What Resources do you need
  1. Packed Happy Bag
  2. Completion of First Aid that covers children, adults and outdoors. (Health and Safety at Work Act 1974)

 

  • Procedures
  1. What are the Normal Operating Procedures (NOP)
  2. What are the Emergency Action Plans (EAP)
  3. Policy Documentation and Insurance

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Once the Baselines are completed for each child and the data collected evaluated after the session, it is at that point that the leaders will make recommendations for the next session in the initial 6 sessions. You will be deciding what it is that you need to provide in order to either allow children to investigate further, in order to observe behaviours and areas of development that you may not have seen in their full array and need to establish perhaps what the schema are for children, i.e. are they revisiting and developing the Schema when you provide the resources an opportunity for them to discover, experiment and investigate on their own.

After the 6 Week section, the Baseline Assessment process, you as the leader, and with your team members will sit and devise a programme for the next year that will again identify the aims for the children, each one individually, as well as a group to lead to the Transition Phase.

You will not under any circumstances write a full session designed programme for them but you will ensure that you understand the development needs for the children and you will then consider a range of opportunities for the children in order to provide them with the widest and most powerful possibility for each child or learner to (amongst other things)

  • achieve
  • mature
  • develop confidence
  • self worth
  • resilience
  • environmental identity
  • a reasonable and responsible actual self
  • realistic ideal self

Above all have fun, enjoy the process.

There is a skill in the process, and so with any skill, practice hard, practice well and reflect on your own practice and adjust and adapt and develop as required to ensure that the Forest Schools Programme is a transformational process.

Get Children Outdoors

Secondary Evaluation Report for Forest Schools

February 10, 2015

There appears to be a lack of evaluative reports Forest Schools Practitioners working on long term programmes with the secondary and adolescent period of maturity.

There are many professionals working very effectively with this age group in a range of settings and with great success.

Woodland & LogMuch feedback of these types of programmes is anecdotal and though this is useful there is an increased need to be able to encourage those on the SMT or Governors where academic success is seen to be the main aim of this sage in the education system

For many young people there has been a delay in the process of normal maturation and as result they are functioning at a much earlier age in some areas of their holistic development (physical, intellectual, linguistic/language, emotional, social and spiritual understanding) than would be anticipated.

The report highlights many areas of development and many areas of immature behaviours being reduced and replaced my more socially acceptable ones in their place.

Evaluation Report of Archimedes Young Peoples Project

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Forest Schools Practitioners – The importance of the long term programme

February 7, 2015

cropped-1011073_249701278524332_1467877916_n.jpgArchimedes Earth’s work is not and never has been entirely simply about the children you are working with, it’s about the wider community, society and the sustainability of the world. This is established through involvement of adults, either in school, in a position of power and those within the close knit and more fragmented family life of those children you are working with. Archimedes Forest Schools Education has at its soul and core a purpose that develops a deep understanding of our own impact on emotional literacy and wellbeing, though a heightened self awareness, awareness of other people, and an awareness of environmental surroundings, atmosphere, nuance and energy. As an Archimedes trained practitioner how do we create all of that with our body language, how do we manage and understand the most appropriate levels of eye contact, using cadence, tone, modulation, or modality, the right pitch of voice at the right time and the right place. The relationship between you and your staff is going to have a massive impact on what’s actually happening with you as a person and then the direct impact that this will have on the relationship with those that you are in a position of power to influence.

We already know that all behaviour is a representation of a personal need and whatever has happened today so far will be impacting on the way that you think feel and manage your body, face, voice and relationships with others. Forest Schools level 3, a qualification for those wanting to become a qualified practitioner and this particular section we are discussing is about children, emotional trauma and attachment. In the UK, and I am sure that this a universal trait and one I think interesting is that many doctors, a lot of social workers, a lot of people who are working with children actually do not have a deep or complex understanding of social behavior that is responsive and reflective of lacks of attachment, or impacts of this trauma on early childhood. There is a lot of information underneath that some adults actually have no awareness of. GP’s are in the same position when it comes to that of disability and it is not the position of the doctor to actually diagnose, not diagnose, but even so do not have a good understanding of the root causes or the root symptoms with children for example with ADHD or those with autistic disorders (ASD) and its very interesting, as they are called general practitioners for a reason. As a result of this lack of specific knowledge, then it is one of the things that we are looking in trying to develop by offering doctors and other specialist a deeper and better understanding of some of these areas in order to be able to support that child more readily and allow access to the specialist services that are required to reach their potential now and in later life.

There is much research about attachment and a recent study in the UK pointed to potentially over 35% of young children having attachment issues. For example, If you walk along the road to any school, you look at parents who are picking their children up, how many of them were on their mobile phones, something like 25%, A Guardian report published these findings, and it is demonstrating how we as parents are becoming disassociated from our children and because what’s happening is very real, we are looking to social media and technology for our own self esteem and self gratification, It is actually privatizing, or isolating and excluding our social interactions from those that we love and care for and you know this can only have a negative impact in a long term so it is really real and very sad. It will be impacting on the emotional wellbeing of our society in the long-term future.

When you come to do your Level 3 Forest Schools assessment it is a process not only for you to find out whether you can tie a knot, or not, whether you are able to light a fire or not, those are literally tools to your development of therapeutic intervention, learning, and facilitation as a leader. You can take a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. But, you, if you have a deep knowledge, a deep understanding, tons of empathy and the ability to be able to actually create different ways of working, sometimes through trial and error at Forest Schools or Forest School nursery, then the outcome for that individual child, as they move into adulthood can be transformational. It actually means that they can carve a place in the world as opposed to actually being disparate, you know, and forever just floating, not really sure where they are going and what’s the point of this all. You are the one who can make the difference through your Forest Schools Education process.

This is part one of the series and supports the Level 3 Forest Schools Practitioner Training www.forestschools.com

And is a foundation of the Middlewood Nature Nursery www.forestschoolskindergarten.com

Get Children Outdoors

Forest School Nursery – Sheffield

January 17, 2015

Forest School Nursery is  a unique, but totally natural way for children to grow and develop in the world. There is an emerging demand for full time early years provision and care that offers children and families access to nature, to woodlands, to wild spaces all day everyday as they grow and progress towards maturity and school life

Every moment is a fresh beginningMany families have not had the opportunity to access a Forest Schools Nursery in their local area. But those who have make the commitment to allow their children to have the opportunity to play and learn in this new and emerging Forest School Nursery and Forest Kindergarten environment such as Nature to Nurture and Forest School nursery in London, Scotland and other regions have all had wonderful experiences and so have their children.

Follow us on twitter @naturenursery_14 @nature_nursery as well as on Face book Forest Schools Kindergarten and Middlewood Nature Nursery

If you live in Sheffield, it takes 15 to drive from Fulwood to the Nursery, it take, 10 minutes from Broomhill, and Crookes and Walkley, Tapton and only a couple from Middlewood and Hillsborough.

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Book a visit today and come and see what we are doing. Come and see why Middlewood Nature Nursery, the Forest School Nursery is attracting so much attention

Our sole purpose is to support healthy, happy and rounded children who are resilient and able to manage themselves socially, emotionally, physically and intellectually in the world

Get Children Outdoors

Forest Schools Education Introduction

January 16, 2015

Thank you to all of you who have requested information about Forest Schools Education
I Love OctoberFor all of you that have shown an interest in the Archimedes Forest Schools Education Symposium 2015

You are an inspiration and this is going to be your year!

I am committed to collaboration and I am so pleased to introduce myself

I am Sarah Blackwell and in 1995 I returned to education and completed my outdoor qualifications in Caving, Climbing, Mountaineering and Canoeing then went onto get an honours degree in Countryside Recreation Management. In 2000 I qualified as a teacher and since that time I have worked in education with children in early years right through primary, secondary, FE, HE at university and now run my own Training Academy with adult students attending from around the globe. But, my love of learning, natural enquiry, education and social change came at a young age. I started my career as a residential social worker in 1983 after studies in psychology, sociology, welfare in society and social biology.

“Totally surpassed in every way. I feel connected with the great outdoor with a passion I hope to hold on to forever. Wonderful delivery, faultless”

Now I hope to work with you. Archimedes staff have over 60 years collaboratively of working in Forest Schools and I can guarantee that we have had successes, things that haven’t worked quite so well, not only in working in nature with children but also establishing programmes and making the difference to children and grown ups lives. We have learnt form experience and these success and challenges have made us the leading experts in our field. We want  to share as many of these with you this year so you can be the best that you can be!

As promised here is an overview of Archimedes Forest Schools Education

Make sure you download About Forest Schools Education 2015 and then email us with your registration of interest

Contact me through www.forestschools.com to find out more information

email me on info@forestschools.com if you have any specific questions

Ensure that you are a part of the Dream. Be you you want to be, we want to work with you.

cropped-1922225_263426297151830_1855135600_n.jpg

 

Get Children Outdoors

Forest Schools Symposium USA

January 15, 2015

So it’s coming!

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Do you want to be a part of the first cohort of qualified US practitioners?

Do you want to burn the torch of excellence and draw others to you?

Do you want your children to experience Forest Schools everyday of their childhood- look no further!

IMG_2781Forest Schools Education is coming to America this year and we will see you there at the symposium and we will  have a very special Free gift for you if you sign up!

It’s a once in a lifetime offer, it can’t be repeated – so make sure you don’t miss out!

Go to www.forestschools.com for more information about this leading Forest Schools Training Academy

Are you wanting to establish a Forest School, a Forest Nursery, a Nature Nursery or other type of nature immersion programme we can’t wait to meet you later in 2015.

www.forestschoolskindergarten.com shows what can be achieved at Middlewwod a Nature Nursery

www.forestschools.com gives an overview to Forest Schools and training opportunitiesIMG_3584

Send us your email and details on the contact form on either website and you will be the first to receive your Early Bird Offers!

Phone +44(0)114 2834060 for more information

 

 

 

 

Get Children Outdoors

Working in the Outdoors with SEN Impulse Control Related Disorders

January 9, 2015

Many of us are truly passionate about the natural environment and the basis that Nature is a healer and has a therapeutic impact on us all.

1959972_261101760717617_1265695520_nI have had the pleasure to know Matthew Briggs for about ten years now and as a young man stepping out on his career as a professional working with adults and young people with ASD and other Impulse Control Disorders, he has unimaginably come into his own.

I wanted to thank you Matthew, because of your work, your insight and your passion for something that is for some, beyond the very veil of conception, let alone putting it into practice. And now seeing the most dynamic and transformational change in young people, of course my son Aaron being one of them, whom you have taken on their own life’s journey to have the confidence to explore and to step into a world that for some with SEN or those that look after them and support them, would, and is not conceivable; but whom none the lesshave a right to know themselves, to know others, to know their world and their place within it

 

I hope that some of you will take the time to read Matthews published work and to understand a way of working that is both dynamic, sentient, spiritual and passionate. A process of working Hand, Heart, Head and how the principles develop from early childhood into adulthood through a development theory using a progressive range of resistant materials, form wools and fabrics, to wood to metals. A process that is not only a physical process, but one that transcends all of that into a realm of the unknown.

 

And then how this physical process moves into the metaphorical

Matthew has for me, and I believe for many of you out there who know it right, but not always got the route to the knowing, or the explanation of a way of working will all sigh, and know that this has something very special wrapped up in it folds that can be unpacked and teach us all a great deal about ourselves and about our practice. Through reflection of the fundamentals it takes not only us on a journey, but also those we work with.

cropped-1947470_271693402991786_90879418_n.jpgPlease click on the link to take a look. We are arranging a workshop where Matthew will share his research and practice and if you are interested them please do get in touch.

What are the Therapeutic and Pedagogical Benefits of Craft for Impulse Control related Disorders within the SEN Further Education Sector

 

MBriggs MSc Thesis 2014

 

Get Children Outdoors

Working Mums and Childcare

January 7, 2015

If you are anything like me, choosing the right childcare is a nail biting experience to say the least!

As mums returning to work, there is always the anxiety and the guilt involved with parting from the most precious part of your being, your own child.

We choose to go back to work for a number of reasons;

  • because we want to
  • because we have to financially
  • because we need to for our sanity and self esteem
  • because we want to hold onto the part of our own selves that functions in the wider world and doesn’t revolve around nappies and unfulfilling sleep patterns to name just a few

We all have our own reasons and motivation, but irrespective of those we also want the very very best for our children when they are not with us for the most part of the day.

We want their lives to be stimulating, happy and challenging. We want for them, pleasure, acceptance, a sense of value, a sense of self, a sense of place.

We all know how beneficial the outdoors is for us and it is the same for our children, irrespective of their age or gender, or ability.

Outdoor play supports learning and development and so finding a unique nursery that offers this provision can help you to make the right decision for your family right from the very start.

1522053_241207072707086_1250774215_nThere are untold physical benefits to being in the outdoors

  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Spatial Awareness
  • Dexterity
  • Manipulation
  • Walking, running jumping
  • Hopping
  • Stacking
  • Throwing
  • Stirring
  • Connecting
  • Digging
  • Filling
  • Floating
  • Building
  • Pouring

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These are just a few of those that spring to mind. Many of these activities children in the Early Years and School simply do not get the opportunity to investigate and explore and conduct their own research in all its forms and varieties due to the limitation of space, time, knowledge of practitioners or resources available.

Give your child the best start in life by allowing them to have as much fun as they can all day, everyday. Be confident that their holistic development needs are being met and work with those who understand the value of Nature as the Third Teacher and work in collaboration by offering your child a Scandinavian Forest Schools Experience.

Visit Middlewood Nature Nursery in Sheffield UK and lets Start this Adventure!

www.forestschoolskindergarten.com

We are so confident that your child will literally have the time of their lives and that your expectations for your child will be totally met  everyday, we are offering a massive 10% off Full Time Fees for your Under 2 for a whole 12 months if you Register your place before 15th January 2015

We can’t wait to meet you!

Get Children Outdoors

Play at Forest Schools Kindergarten

December 16, 2014

Bob Hughes suggests that through his observations and research of animals and children playing that there are over 16 different play types and children need to test the boundaries in each one of those types in order to learn the rules of engagement in life for when they grow, mature and develop.

If a child has had the opportunity to push their physical boundaries, to balance, to climb, to move, to stretch, to throw, to jump and swing then there will be enhanced levels of physical  and emotionally literacy in that child.1621765_254249544736172_1072213647_n

If children have  been given an opportunity to test the boundaries of communication, by trying out words, sentences and intentions in a safe, environment, then they will develop the ability to become confident in offering their own opinions and thoughts later in life when it become important that they do.

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If children are able to explore social boundaries, and understand that they are able to make and set their own in certain circumstances, then they will be more accepting of those boundaries set by others as they grow, they will also gain the ability to question them, and to follow them and as such put themselves into a place of greater safety, socially, emotionally and physically later in life, where the risk of physiological and psychological harm could be greater.10155814_272523976242062_1028432098_n

If a child has developed a sense of self worth and self awareness, then it is very easy for that child to make rational and balanced decision as as they grow as they have a strong foundation of a sense of self, a place in the world, confidence and resilience.