Browsing Tag

Forest School

Childhood Development, Forest Schools, Get Children Outdoors

Risk and its Importance in Forest School Programmes for Learning and Development

February 7, 2017
Forest School Learning and Development

Risk and its Importance in Forest School Programmes for Learning and Development

“It is argued that taking risks can have positive implications in terms of children’s developmental, social and emotional needs, as well as their overall health. By providing the opportunities for children to manage their own risks in a controlled environment, they will learn vital life skills needed for adulthood, and gain the experience needed to face the unpredictable nature of the world.” (Gill, 2007)

Excellent quote from Tim Gill; But what does it actually mean for us? You know that I am proponent of the idea that we assume nothing presume nothing.

So what exactly do you, I, we understand by this; what is a controlled environment for example; what does it mean specifically, how controlled, how free; what do we expose our children to; what do we do to protect; what do we allow; what do we manage and what do we allow children through different age cohorts to manage for themselves – specifically?

These questions are fundamental to our understanding and then to the relationship that we have with the environment, with our staff, with our school governors, with our parents and with our children themselves.  They are key to how we then go about supporting learning and development through our programmes over the course of their schooling years.

Forest School has a core ethos regarding child-centered learning and the offer of play to children whilst they are attending our programmes. But how can we actually incorporate the principles of play and is this process in a reasonable and acceptable and totally realistic way? How do we incorporate free play experiences that we are able to plan for, and offer our children at our Forest School programme throughout each session, or if this is planned can it actually be free play at all?

Play Wales (2008) states that play means ‘…providing opportunities for all children to encounter or create uncertainty, unpredictability, and potential hazards as part of their play. We do not mean putting children in danger of serious harm.’

It was Play England in 2007 that can maybe answer this question for us

‘Good risks and hazards in play provision are those that engage and challenge children, and support their growth, learning and development. These might include… loose materials that give children the chance to create and destroy constructions using their skill, creativity and imagination.’

So we are in the woods, out in the wild unfettered environment and we are allowing our children to go and explore and investigate and to get into their deep learning states that promotes learning and emotional connections. Excellent, we need to do no more, our session is sorted! We just sit back and observe and monitor what’s happening and all is well that ends well. Our Forest Schools leader role is complete. Our children go to play and to find and to build and to destroy and to jump and pretend and imagine and fantasies, and rough and tumble, jump, climb and role play and recapitulate and dramatise.

Oh but hang on

‘Bad risks and hazards are those that are difficult or impossible for children to assess for themselves, and that have no obvious benefits. These might include sharp edges or points on equipment, weak structures that may collapse, and items that include traps for heads or fingers.’ (Play England 2007)

But how do we know what a bad risk is for one child and the exact same thing may not be for another?

As a forest School Practitioner qualified to Level 3 you are the Safety Officer. That means you are responsible under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to eliminate exposure to significant risks that could cause harm to people, the environment and to things or equipment.

But how will you actually know what is significant, or unsuitable for your group to be exposed to?  You will base your decisions on the physical, cognitive and linguistic skills of your children, individually. How do you know what these are? It is through your baseline assessments and through Procedural documentation and Risk Assessment processes. But of course these will be balanced by your Benefits Analysis carried out against each identified hazard as well. These are provided to evidence that as a qualified Level 3 Forest School practitioner you thought about, assessed and monitored any identified significant risks to your group. But your job is to balance this and not eliminate all risks entirely.

‘Children and young people themselves recognise that ‘you can’t make everything safe’ and that a balance is needed between risks and fun (and the opportunity to be put into situations that may contain risk, but that without this exposure learning could not take place in any dimension – SB (2105) . Children recognise that knowing about risks and how to manage them is an essential part of growing up… Through play, children are able to learn about risks and use their own initiative. If children and young people are not allowed to explore and learn through playing and taking part in positive activities, they will not learn how to judge risks and manage them for themselves. These skills learnt through play and other activities can act as a powerful form of prevention in other situations where children and young people are at risk.’ (Play England, 2007)

Dweck (2000) states that:

‘encouraging children to enjoy challenges rather than to shy away from them could also increase their persistence and learning abilities.’ And we are reading more and more to support this view in the papers and in the news. Children are becoming so mollycoddled and protected that certain traits like independence, resilience, creativity and confidence are being eroded away.   

Playwork Principle 8 says:

‘Playworkers choose an intervention style that enables children and young people to extend their play. All playworker intervention must balance risk with the developmental benefit and well-being of children.’

Principle 8 allows us as Forest Schools Practitioners make a decision based on the prescribed process of risk-benefit analysis or assessment. TO reiterate what we mean here, if there is an identified hazard, what is the benefit or good that a child or group of children will gain from exposure to that particular hazard in the course of our experiences that we offer as part of the Forest Schools programme? Also, does the benefit outweigh the detrimental affects that this hazard could have on the child or group if they were exposed to it whilst in our care? Is the hazards affects serious or life threatening and if so how can these be managed in such a way that the child can still be exposed to due to other learning benefits that may be available.

Hazards provide opportunities for learning and development.

‘In a playground, (woodland – SB 2015) bumps, bruises scrapes and even a broken limb are not necessarily warning signs of greater dangers, as they might be considered in a factory or office environment. They are to be expected as part of everyday life for children growing up.

Providers need to decide for themselves what level of risk is appropriate in their provision, because the type and style of provision must be responsive to local circumstances … However, there are benefits from this approach at all levels and for all those involved in play, but above all for the children, who will have happier and more satisfying experiences of childhood with richer opportunities for healthy growth and development into competent and confident adults.’ (Play England, 2007)

What Are the benefits children, young people, and others will gain as a result of this experience?

Consider Physical, intellectual, Linguistic, Emotional, Social and spiritual.

Think creatively and identify IN DETAIL

What are the options of enhancing those benefits and what are the pros and cons for each one?

  • Increase the opportunities for engagement (with good risk).
  • Do nothing.
  • Monitor the situation (including supervision).
  • Increase the reach of the benefit.
  • The benefit is not significant enough compared to the risk involved

What are the Risks that children young people, and others will be exposed to?

What are the options for managing the risk, and what are the pros, cons and costs of each?

  • Decrease the opportunities for engagement (with bad risk).
  • Do nothing.
  • Monitor the situation (including supervision).
  • Lessen or manage the risk.
  • Remove the risk.

So we are now considering the consequences of our actions and one thing that Forest Schools Education gets asked quite often is about the Risk and likelihood of harm occurring and what is done to safeguard children. Well. In answer to that every probably and possible precautions, protections and insurances are put into place. These include deep level and constructive training processes that ensure that trainees follow procedure and process when opening an opportunity to encounter the riskier experiences. This includes safe working practices and these are to be unconsciously understood and participated in before any adult is permitted or entitled to use their skills with the children. Archimedes ensures that this is the case and as such we are confident in the preservation of child safety and wellbeing. We are not saying, however, that children will not encounter risk or acceptable harm along the way.

‘It is highly unlikely that a competent play worker will ever be taken to court and successfully prosecuted for negligence because the safeguards that we put in place to protect both ourselves and the children are sensible and show that we have a professional approach to risk.’ – (Play Wales, 2008)

Many of our children are building up their skills in terms of physical strength, dexterity, their resilience to be able to cope with failure and things that don’t go quite right for them, to understand altruism and awe and wonder, to be allowed to encounter Risk as Tim Gill suggest, sound judgment about themselves and others and the world around them develop as a consequence of being given opportunity to work at and to problem solve and to reflect on their experiences appropriately.

It is exactly the same with us as an adult or a Forest Schools Practitioner and as a result, we will be finding our own feet as we develop our skills in this new and flourishing industry we find ourselves. We need to feel comfortable and we need to feel able and flexible in our thinking in order to allow children to explore within their boundaries and for us not to be fearful to empower children in their play and leaning at Forest Schools. However, this comes with experience and as experience develops so does a broader understand of empathy and common sense can begin to prevail. ,

There is a pressure point where society influences the decisions and choices of parents and educational establishments and it is the responsibility of the Forest Schools practitioner who has a broad picture, the correct training and a personal confidence to balance this potential ‘cotton-wooling’ of our generations. Creativity comes from the explosion of thought and innovation, this will inevitably contain some aspect of risk and this is to be positively encouraged at Forest Schools. However this also needs to be managed well in order to allow children to be entrusted into our care and one of the best ways that this can be done is simply through enabling adults and decision makers to encounter Forest Schools for themselves as there is no boundaries to it no restrictions on age, culture, location, gender and ability.

Risk is not a scary thing when it is a perceived risk and when the Forest Schools practitioner, thought their own experience and understanding of the individual child, the group and the environment understands the extent of the risk and the consequential harms that could happen. They also have a deep understanding of the processes involved in minimizing those risks and as such can allow children to experiment within safe and acceptable boundaries of behaviours.

Research is showing that Forest Schools extends thought processes, encourages freedom, allows the development of creativity, understanding of self and others and the world around them

Extended Reading

Play England (2008) ‘Managing Risk in Play Provision: Implementation Guide’
www.playengland.org.uk/resources/managing-risk-in-play- provision-implementation-guide

Play Wales (2008) ‘A Playworker’s Guide to Risk’
www.playwales.org.uk/login/uploaded/documents/INFORMA TION%2 0SHEETS/playworkers%20guide%20to%20risk.pdf

Simon Nicholson’s ‘Theory of Loose Parts’

Bristol Scrapstore’s PlayPods project
www.playpods.co.uk

Play Englands ‘Play, Naturally’ project
http://www.playengland.org.uk/media/130593/play-naturally.pdf

References

Dweck (2000) ‘Self-theories: their role in motivation, personality and development’

Gill (2007) ‘No Fear: growing up in a risk adverse society’

Play England (2008) ‘Managing Risk in Play Provision: Implementation Guide’ Download from http://www.playengland.org.uk/resources/managing-risk-in-play-provision-implementation-guide

Play Wales (2008) ‘A Playworker’s Guide to Risk’ Download from
www.playwales.org.uk/login/uploaded/documents/INFORMATION%20SHEETS/playworkers%20guide%20to%20risk.pdf

Get Children Outdoors

Freedom 100 is a Resounding Success!

October 4, 2015

It has been such an honour to works with 100 people from all walks of life, and from all continents over the past 6 months on the Archimedes Forest Schools Training in Sheffield.

I’d like to say a big Congratulations to you all – you have all been absolutely AMAZING!!

We have had delegates from Moscow, Turkey, Dubai, Ireland, Denmark, the US and of course from all over the UK from Cornwall, to Kent, Scottish Highlands to the mountains and valleys of Wales, Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Sunderland, Staffordshire, Cumbria, Lancashire, London, and South Yorkshire and Derbyshire to name a few.

DSCF3373

It was a trial process this year as the Fast Track required Practitioners to attend the first week in March or April this year and then to complete their portfolios, which are intense and hard work, as well as to deliver their Baseline Assessments and their observations and analysis of the process.

DSCF3393

All of this before coming back for a CPD Practical day in the woods to fine tune and hone those practical skills before assessment, and then of course attend the final 4 days of further training progression and skills and ethos assessment.

The quality of portfolios of evidence are outstanding, the professionalism of delivery and practical skills teaching is exemplary.

DSCF3392

So all in all I am really proud of everyone i have met and had the honour to train and work with on their journey. In addition to know that these 100 people are now qualified Forest Schools Practitioners, all going gout into the world to transform the lives of all of those they work with from here on in.

DSCF3385

If each of these Freedom 100 people go onto work with 100 children in the next year, that is 10,000 children touched by the Archimedes Forest Schools Model in the next 12 months.

If each one of those 10,000 children tell one parent then that is 20,000 people whose life is touched. if each of those 20,000 tell a brother or sister that is 30,000 and then the parents tell 2 family friends and a grandparent that is 50,000 people who will know of the wonders of nature and experience it for themselves as a result.

If this is multiplied by 10 years then by 2025 as a direct result, and this is a conservative estimation, then that is half a million children, grown ups and others that will have heard of and experienced either directly or vicariously the amazing nature of Forest Schools and the new connection to the natural world around them.

DSCF3383

Imagine the health benefits, not only physical but also emotional and social, the sense of self and a personal confidence in their own abilities as a result of their experience.

I’d like to thank everyone who has made this possible, my staff team for the organisation and administration, and to all the learners who have participates and to all the children and schools in which the Archimedes Forest Schools Model is now becoming a way of life. Now and in the future.

We will be having another Freedom 100 programme of study next March and April 2016 and so if anyone is interested in participating and becoming a part of this amazing and transformational programme called Archimedes Forest Schools then do contact info@forestschools.com for more details. This offer will not be on the main diary as it isintended to make Forest Schools available to all and is open to those from around the world, from all walks of life.  DSCF3398

Get Children Outdoors

The Archimedes Forest Schools Model

October 4, 2015

I am very pleased to announce the publication in Kindle or iBooks of our new book outlining the Archimedes Model that is applied to Forest Schools Practice and also to Beach Schools and the Social Forestry provision and qualifications developed over the last 15 years in the industry.

The Archimedes Forest Schools Model

TH

It is available through the Amazon Store now if you follow this link

Its the first in a series and hope that you enjoy it

Book Overview

This publication is about the theory, practice and methodology of the Archimedes Forest Schools model of outdoor learning, carried out in a woodland or wild environment. The practice evolved from Scandinavian models found in Denmark, Norway and Sweden from the 1950’s through the 1990s as Forest School in UK and now it has assumed a respectable and meaningful place within the wide variety of delivery methodologies for the overall development of children and as a significant and intentional process for improving learning in children of all ages as well as adults in and for the environment and forest education universally.

Forest schools as an educational concept was introduced into the UK from its origins in Scandinavia in 1994. Since those humble beginnings, the Forest Schools concept has blossomed throughout the UK and as I write there are at least 300 training organisations that train practitioners in Forest Schools education with over 11,500 practitioners who are delivering Forest Schools programmes and sessions to a range of audiences.

There are many ways to use the Forest Schools concept in a variety of settings, with a range of audiences delivering an equally diverse set of outcomes. The wide variety of Forest Schools experiences being offered reflects this opportunity for different applications. The Archimedes Forest Schools model is unique in its approach and delivers on its goal “To transform the lives of children on every continent around the world”

Archimedes from the outset has recognised the ultimate potential of this educational concept is that it can be highly effective in creating positive transformational behavioural changes in the participants who experience it. The Archimedes model is all about transformation of children’s lives over time by engaging with the natural and wild spaces around them.

 

Get Children Outdoors

Forest Schools Principles

March 8, 2015

Lone TreeEach child’s journey of discovery is different and because Forest Schools is  long term, the beginning of a lifelong connection and affinity with nature. The great awe and wonder of the universe itself, we hold a very special, very precious and very unique, a place in providing opportunities for the child in creating substance, accountability and a notion of ownership and stewardship. The earth will reward our children as they begin to cherish and show compassion with nature and all the diversity that life beholds.Schools promotes, supports, encourages, guides, is informed by, inspired by, blown away by the child and all their magic and joy and creative spirit.

Forest Schools principles[2] have been developed in order to allow those looking in from the outside that there is a distinction between Learning Outdoors, Outdoor Learning, Outdoor Play, Outdoor Development and other types of Outdoor Programmes.

They are also used to encourage practitioners and trained leaders that what they are aiming for, what their visions and goals are for programme, provisions experiences and opportunities thought up and devised, are all there for the good of the child and their journey.

If you are interested in training then there are few options to choose from on the FSE course diary. I know that your children will benefit from your input immensely as they learn their own connection to nature and also with confidence that those you are already practicing are creating the change we wish to see in this world

 

 

Get Children Outdoors

Let the Forest School Nursery Children take you on a Walk in the Woods

March 6, 2015

1522053_241207072707086_1250774215_n

Have you ever wondered why children are so happy at Forest Schools Nursery? They want to show you why……..The ethos behind the Forest Schools Kindergarten is simple,  nature is both nurturing, therapeutic, educational and the perfect place for children to learn and grow as they explore the environment, their world and their place within it.  Woodlands and wild spaces develop an inquisitive mind, a strong body and sound social and emotional skills.

Join us on the adventure of a life time.  Our Children are very excited about showing you what they get up to at Middlewood Nature Nursery!

Saturday 28th March 2015 is Celebration Day

Please do come and experience what we get up to and why our children are so happy and love coming everyday, and incidentally, why our parents are talking about it and telling all their friends.

As a parent or carer we are passionate about our children and we want the best for them. Children growing up in nurturing environments flourish. We know that children thrive when they are building strong relationships with other children, with grown ups and the environment in which they live and learn, supports this. Nature is the perfect environment for children. You know from your own childhood that the fondest memories, the greatest learning probably happened when you were outside playing with your friends. The nursery is replicating that experience with the children in a safe and caring place allowing all the children to learn freely.

1475877_240721499422310_899977157_n

There are dramatic observations of children’s physical and linguistic developments even in a few short weeks of them attending and they want to show you all of this at the Forest School Nursery Open Day. Little Leela was even Slack Lining for the first time this week!

Contact us on Sheffield 0114 2834067

Visit www.forestschoolskindergarten.com

FaceBook – Middlewood Nature Nursery

 

 

 

 

Get Children Outdoors

Sarah Blackwell – From then until Now – Freedom 100

March 1, 2015

Sarah Blackwell and the History behind Freedom 100

DAC
Born in the 1960’s, in Cheshire, England, Sarah Blackwell developed a love of people and social welfare at an early age, but her career didn’t take off until she joined Chelfham Mill School in Barnstaple in 1981. Her traveling was inspired when she joined a group of other young people on a busking trip around Europe in 1982. Sarah realized that she had no ear for music and was sacked from the band in Venice! Taking up juggling and fire eating she enabled her own trip to continue as she found a niche to making money to support the group.

After visiting a number of countries Sarah returned to Devon where she worked as a dressmaker and a seamstress selling locally in the markets and at festivals such as Glastonbury. Sarah married and she gave birth to her first child in January 1986. Joe himself now a young man with a wanderlust and a sense of adventure lives in Thailand and is a Men’s Clothing Designer and supports other businesses with web design and app development.

Sarah and her husband and baby Joe set off again in their beautiful bus and returned to Germany where they travelled for a few months before returning to Sheffield, parking up at the end of her mother in laws street, where they lived for 18 months until baby Aaron was born in 1988. Having to move to a house environment was an interesting experience and as it became increasingly obvious that Aaron was developing a range of additional needs, not speaking, sleeping and having outrageous outburst of frustration and violence. This was finally diagnosed with Autism when he was nearly six years old. This knowledge had a devastating impact on Sarah at the time.

Grassy field sunsetWild Child

Sarah continued her work as an entertainer and had an agent working around the country. As this work progressed Sarah working with a business partner set up social play schemes and worked with disadvantaged young people and children in order to build self confidence and courage in the face of some deeply difficult socially dysfunctional situations. Sarah’s Passion for people was being satisfied though her work breaking new ground in personal development through performance and circus skills. Her work as a child minder gave her valuable insights into working with children and professionals in their baby days!

For years, Sarah had struggled to escape from the confining family environment where expectations of social adhesion was the norm, and has spent much energy and passion trying to overcome her memories of her difficult years there, and enabling others to overcome and become independent and courageous individuals. Sarah gave birth to her daughter Elly in September 1999 and is now an International Business graduate from Cardiff University and has set up her own company called Fro Yo Joy traveling and working in Australia.

family 1993Sarah was a lonely child and found social interactions difficult and these were not encouraged by her family. Adopted at the age of 6 weeks she always struggled with her sense of belonging and this resulted in a battle for self worth and self esteem. School was difficult and left home at 18 after having run away on a number of occasions looking for better options and care and attention that she so longed for. Academically Sarah survived but it was not until she returned to education in her 30’s that Sarah started working toward the path that she now finds herself upon.

Sarah undertook a range of outdoor qualification and she worked at the Outdoor Education Department in Stockport and again it was her desire to help to transform lives that led her to work with young people out of education and some young mothers. Her degree in Countryside Recreation Management, which she achieved a First Class Honors and was awarded the CPRE (Council for the Protection of Rural England) award for her research on the impacts of the outdoor adventures in social communication of children with autism. Her fourth child Euan was only 7 days old when she returned to complete her last year at university.

Sarah, knowing that it was always through a recognised ‘profession’ that it is easier to move on an up in the industry that she loved, as a result, with four children to look after she continued her education and training for an additional year to become a Business Education Teacher and gained her PGCE from Sheffield Hallam University.

DAC

Environmental Interests

Sarah had had a range of experiences in the natural environment growing up and it was not by any stretch of the imagination the most sought out environment for her when she was growing up. However her new found confidence in the understanding of the power of nature to heal and to nurture during this time of her career drove her onto her first ‘grown-up’ job as she describes it; Environmental Education officer at Thornbridge Outdoors. The outdoor center that provided adventures for all children from Sheffield. So finally, after graduating from university, something she never thought would happen in her lifetime, Sarah sought to challenge attitudes, introduce new processes for working with young people and children and she quickly realized that working within the traditional system, was not the way to go about it. There were too many constraints and expectations and there would be a limit to the possibilities that would be open to her dream.

In the summer of 2000 Sarah left Thornbridge highly motivated and excited about what the future could bring for her and for society as a whole. Sarah moved to Buxton in Derbyshire and began her new business of Forest Schools Education. This was later registered, due to its success as Archimedes Training Ltd.

Wild and Free

Sarah began Delivering programmes that lasted a full year to young people in inner city and rural areas in local woodlands on personal development and emotional well being projects. The results were stunning. The relationships, confidence, language skills and communication processes that enable so may of these young people to begin to return to school, to learning and to function more fluidly and flexible in their communities and families was remarkable. Sarah ran the first Urban Forest Schools in 2001, she worked with teenagers, adolescents, those with special needs, mental health problems, drug and alcohol addiction, youth justice and prolific persistent offenders, parents, teachers, babies, children, boys, girls, men, women and grandparents of all cultures, nationalities, languages and races. Sarah is passionate about cultural identity, heritage and a sense of place in the world.

 

Work grew and in 2002 Sarah wrote the first independent Forest Schools Practitioner Award and this started her delivery of training that now take her and her company across the globe. Sarah has not looked back.

Having now worked and trained with over 6500 practitioners, each one having influenced the loved of over 1million children, parents, families and communities, Sarah has a desire that all children, in every situation, country region, nation can experience Forest Schools, or Beach Schools or River Schools or Bush Schools. The essence of change, of self belief, of passion, of a desire to live strongly and brilliantly in the word is at her heart.

In November 2013, Sarah re assessed her own personal aspirations, desires and journey. Handing over the reigns to her training company Forest Schools Education to her newly appointed Managing Director and Commercial Director. This decision has released her to follow other passions and dreams that will go towards creating the big picture and the international vision that she has. Archimedes Earth. Not only this but the development and inspiration of the Forest Schools Kindergarten is going from strength to strength. A plan she had for educating her own children 28 years ago, but which never came to fruition, but now it will, just in time perhaps for grandchildren and the local communities in which they will be set, in woodlands of course !!

 

The present, the Future and you

Sarah knows that the work she does is valuable and essential. That without it there will be many children in this world who will never discover who they are, how they fit into the jigsaw of life, and will never experience their own vision of success and possess the internal motivation and independence or the power to achieve their goals.

Sarah is working on all continents; she is passionate about you and about your children. She is looking for partners, trainers, teachers, educators, youth workers, mental health professionals, special needs coordinators and practitioners who are willing to step out on a limb, to take courage and to work with us to expand our provision across all communities, cultures, boundaries and generations around the world

cropped-1011073_249701278524332_1467877916_n.jpg

I am committed to change; I am committed to a flourishing generation; I am committed to babies, children and to their mothers and fathers, to families; to diversity; to education.

Most of all I am committed to a life worth living, free from internal and external oppression, and I will support you in your desire to live a life, to give a life, to educate for a life of freedom through this vision.

 

Join us on FREEDOM 100 this April for the Fast Track Level 3 Forest Schools Training Programme

www.forestschools.com

Get Children Outdoors

The Symbiotic Relationship of Child and Woods – Are you Sustaining Both?

February 24, 2015

EIA and MP MIddlewood ExampleIf you are an educationalist and a teacher, then the chances are you love nature – or you wouldn’t be reading this site! – but loving being in nature is not always enough to ensure that we preserve, sustain, conserve and maintain the woodlands we use for education, learning, play or leisure

IMG_1003

Qualified Forest Schools Level 3 Practitioners have  duty of care to children, no one disputes this – how many consider the duty of care to the natural environment and what that entails

Children and Nature interrelate on a biological and cellular level

You can’t have a child growing up in isolation of the elements, the natural cycles, the trees, grass, mountains or rivers without a part of that child’s inner most being as a human losing a part of its self that is essential to life.

In the same way you can not have woodlands and wild spaces growing up in isolation of the love, care, compassion and respect of children, because nature without children will in the future be destroyed completely and habitats die.

Nature is dependant for its wellbeing and health on children and their appreciation and respect to it, as much as children need nature for their wellbeing and health

IMG_1006

The process of the Environmental Impact Assessment and Management Planning can only be of any substance and any relevance when we as Practitioners and Leaders understand the importance of the need for sustainability. When we understand our role in the process as conduits for learning and love of nature with our children, we can begin to put an emphasis on learning species and relationships and how the natural systems depend on each other

When we know this, we then can apply with great joy and intention the Phase One Survey EIA where we acquire the knowledge and information of the woodlands we will work in

This can then lead to the Development of the Management Plan and monitoring process. Though our Role Modelling of our care and compassion, then children can begin to imitate our love and concern and this will lead onto Environmental Identity for the future

Have a go at this simple EIA Activity as an introduction to Environmental Impact Assessment if you are unsure where to begin

Ive included an example of  EIA and MP MIddlewood Example that as a Forest Schools Leader you might find helpful when processing and completing the Environmental Impact Assessments and Management Plans for your own Forest Schools Programmes

The Management Plans can be thought of as an Action Plan for the Setting and what will be done when, where and how, and by whom. 3 Year Management Plan can look like this though you can organise it in any format that is easily readable and through which you can pass on the information to stakeholders.

 

 

I

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

1486626_255388597955600_1203342996_n

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

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