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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

Childhood Development

Autistic Children and Natural Play

January 17, 2015
Autism in the Outdoors

I think that, reading what the physicians and psychologists are saying, Autism is on the increase and this is confusing professionals as to what the reasons for this can be.

Life is an adventure, exploration, discovery and challenge brings out the best in all of us!

Life is an adventure, exploration, discovery and challenge brings out the best in all of us!

There is too little time over the last 15 years, that has seen the marked increase in ASD diagnosis to blame genetical changes, so the only other conclusion is the environmental atmosphere and conditions in which we live.

There is research into metals in the air, electromagnetic waves impacting on synapses and neurotransmitters, the calcium imbalance decreasing the filters that will inhibit hypersensitivity to natural stimuli. Resulting in anxiety, stress and overstimulation.

We are overly impacted and exposed to technology and manufactured objects and ‘things’ and stuff’ that all looks the same and these can be found everywhere we look. In the home, schools, nursery, shops, and walking out in the streets. Much of this modern technology engages but also can remove our sense of place and self as we become more and more isolated communing more intently through our computers, phones, iPads, and tablets.

All of this isolation is of course removing us form the interaction with the natural environment
and we see it everyday in the press and even in schools and the local community, that many
people see the natural world as something to possess, something that will bend to our rules and desires and something that we look at from a distance. There is after all an increase of the nature programmes on TV. unfortunately this does not increase or produce environmental attachment, i.e. the inner compassion for nature that will engender a passion to love and care for it in the future.
Grow
Autistic Children and Adults, irrespective of the cause of the condition, tend to have an ability to become overly stressful, fearful, nervous and research is revealing the health benefits to all of us of and being outside allows us to be influenced by the rhythms and flows of time, seasons and for natural curiosity to take place. We all acquire a sense of calm, a sense of place and it is a place where all trees, plants, leaves, every molecule is different and unique, in the same way that we are and as a result we are automatically in a place of balance and non judgement. We are not open to criticism and we can be the masters of our choice and in control of our own moment.

We know that there are both physical and mental benefits and helps us to build an understanding of the world and a sense of ourselves within it
This is as important for Autistic children and adults as it is for us that think we are not affected by ASD!
The value of being ourselves, being in the wildness of outside and though a repeated opportunity to visit and potentially connect with nature for the firs time this will develop a range of life skills essential for adulthood where knowing and understanding that simply being in nature soothes and heals, and that when in a stressful state we can visit and be to help to make ourselves well.

Autistic children and adults need to understand that they have the capacity to feel well, to be well and how to become well in times of overwhelm and stress in the modern world that we all live

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Forest School Nursery is a way for ASD children to begin to understand themselves and how therapeutic the natural environment truly is
Forest Schools Kindergarten has been a conduit for peace and calm over many years and had a positive impact on children

for more information then please contact Forest School Nursery Sheffield – Middlewood Nature Nursery – Forest Schools Kindergarten www.forestschoolskindergarten.com and Book a visit, we would love to meet with you

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