Browsing Tag

resilience

Get Children Outdoors

The Changing Seasons can bring such happiness and joy, but also sorrow and sadness

October 8, 2015

It is fun isn’t it how the beginning of autumn begins to change us. Even when we have had a ‘bad summer’ there is something about the air, the chill, the leaves and the colours of the sky. The sun doesn’t rise so high in the sky and it stings our eyes as we walk through the streets or the woods or the park.

 

Autumn for me is the time of change, of new beginnings or eternal hope and freedom. Maybe it was the chance to be in a new class at school, have a new teacher who may help me, leaving school and moving into the world, running away from home and starting a new life. Leaving work and moving into a bus and traveling Europe. The season I started a new Job, had a baby, left my job and came self employed, Autumn has always been a time of excitement, anticipation, a feeling that anything could happen and that I was the master to some extent of my own destiny.

Sea

We are so lucky here in the UK with our 11,000 miles of coastline. I was here today which is why I posted this picture from the North East coast.

Each footstep, each footprint we take unravels a new treasure. It can bring us joy and happiness as we take in through al our senses the beauty of our natural world. It is possible also to invoke a wealth of old memories and feelings that can sprig up into our hearts and minds revealing hidden jewels that may not have surfaced for years!

But the change in the seasons, the places that can inspire us, that can make our hearts sing, can also for some conjure up memories or emotional experiences from a past that just emerge from nowhere and can make us sad or despondent and full of sorrow.

sea3

 

The visual is such a powerful sense, it has the power to build us and strengthen us, but also the power to blindside us and bring us crumbling down.

Im not trying to be negative here at all, all I’m thinking is that for some people a sight may cause pain in equal measures whilst to someone else it may bring intense happiness.

When we are working with adults or children, sometimes we are not aware of the deep emotions locked deep within because we do not know of or understand their memories or experiences from before. We may observe a reaction that seems irrational or out of character or even out of synchronicity with the world around us.

Be still, be gentle, be aware, take note, was there a catalyst, was there a trigger.  As we become more aware of others reactions and behaviours, we are able to open a door of experience that may mean laying down a whole new foundation of responses for that person, simply by being there and being honest and true to ourselves and to them. We value their reactions, value their feelings and value their vision of the world. And this new set of experiences where positive memories can be formed, can in time  bring happiness and peace, that today may causes pain, sadness and sorrow, but for tomorrow, love and compassion and a true sense of self.

Have a great day.

 

Get Children Outdoors

FREEDOM 100 has arrived! – Fast Track Forest Schools Training

March 1, 2015

EarthForest Schools Education offers one of the quickest ways to Fast Track Forest Schools with your children…

FSE Freedom 100 for Business Owners Use the link here to access the full colour version

They are a perfect way to…

  • Increase place take up from parents wanting qualified Forest Schools practice at the nursery setting or school they choose for their child
  • Provide parents with the confidence that you are the best educator for their child utilising the Archimedes Forest Schools Model
  • Learn from the longest established private Forest Schools Training Provider in the UK and the rest of the world
  • Receive tutoring from expert practitioners and teacher trainers
  • Increase the learning potential of your children
  • Begin to Establish Archimedes Forest Schools Quality Mark status demonstrating your prestige and value in education (Preferential Rate – 20% discount for those on this programme)
  • Offer quality provision to transform learning and increase confidence for improved standards of learning in school
  • Increase physical as well as mental capacity, resilience and wellbeing
  • Support CPD for teachers and practitioners by investing in quality training

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YES, Confirm My Place

Is Freedom 100 Forest Schools Training Right for Your Business?

Yes, because your staff will have the knowledge, skills and information, which when you share it with your parent customers will enhance your relationship with them and enable them to envisage how you are experts in your industry – and this will have a major impact on your ability to sell your setting to parents as customers

 Here are just some of the businesses already using Forest Schools Education successfully:

  • Alphabet Nursery
  • Alfreton Nursery
  • Ashbrow Nursery
  • Back 2 Nature
  • Baskerville Special School
  • Doncaster High Melton University
  • Derbyshire County Council
  • Manor House Nursery
  • Middlewood Nature Nursery
  • Nature to Nurture
  • Reflections Nursery
  • Sheffield City Council
  • Wildlife Trusts

There are hundreds more examples just like these from every type of education, children’s service, adults, outdoors, youth development as well as colleges, schools, nursery businesses you can imagine.

Every early years, school, college or support service organisation, charity or business could and should be using Forest Schools Education, whether you sell childcare, afterschool, wraparound care services to parents or other businesses.

Why Forest Schools Education is Also Essential For New and Growing Businesses

If you have a newer nursery business or setting up your own you need to get customers fast and you need to do it in a cost effective way.

What better way to bring in new customers than to show them the finer benefits of outdoor learning and education through Forest Schools Qualified Practitioners who can give them high end and useful information and then demonstrate by make a compelling offer of the uniqueness of your setting.

 Forest Schools Education Practitioner Training – What is it and Who is it for?

Freedom 100 Forest Schools training is a 6 month programme for a maximum of 100 business owners or Practitioners wanting to work personally with Sarah Blackwell introducing the Archimedes Forest Schools Model into their businesses and settings.

It’s for any dedicated and highly motivated individual interested in adding value to children through education and learning in the Forest Schools context, increasing value to their business and rising its profile though training with experts in Forest Schools adding these life enhancing programmes to their business model.

 

Forest Schools Training has three key components:

  • Initial Training; 6 months consolidation and Portfolio Building; Final Assessment and Portfolio Submission
  • Personal Support from Sarah Blackwell. You will be able to ask Sarah any questions you have during the programme in an exclusive private online forum.
  • A 200 plus page manual packed with information and background to the Archimedes Model plus templates for designing, running and monitoring Forest Schools

 

Here is Everything You Get on Freedom 100 Fast Track Forest Schools Training…

  1. SIX Month Course

The first and last weeks of the programme are live and current in Sheffield – the next Consolidation Weeks are in your own setting developing your work, portfolio and programmes. You get full access to the exclusive Archimedes Training Forums and direct communication with Sarah Blackwell though this page

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Here’s the schedule for the Training and Certification

Training Week

5 Dates to choose from : April 7th – 10th | April 13th – 17th | April 20th – 24th | April 27th to May 1st | May 5th – 8th 

Month 1

Section One: Essential Forest Schools Training for Skills, Knowledge and Understanding

April and May

Month 1 & 2

Section Two: Research and Reading and beginning to complete the pre required areas for delivery of the Baseline Assessment Programme

MAY to AUGUST

Month 2 to 6

Section Three: Deliver your SIX Week Baseline Assessment Programme, observe and assess children’s holistic development profiles ready for their long term programme in the outdoors

 Follow UP Development Week 

August 17th – 21st | August 24th – 28th |  September 1st to 4th | September 7th – 11th 

Month 6

Section Four: Attend the Practical Development Week

August and September

Month 6

Section Five: Hand in your Level 2 or 3 Portfoliosarah

  1. Personal Support From Sarah Blackwell

As one of the 100 business owners or practitioners on the course, learners will have access to an exclusive online private FSE Training learners area where they’ll be able to ask Sarah questions during the programme, while they are starting to build their understanding of Forest Schools in your business.

This access to Sarah Blackwell is priceless. She is the world’s leading implementer of Forest Schools Education – You will be able to tap into her expertise to maximise your own personal learning and to increase the value of your setting

Here’s what you’ll be able to do in the private learners area:

  • Ask Sarah Blackwell any questions you have about Forest Schools Portfolio Completion during the course
  • Ask Sarah to look at your portfolio structures and give her input
  • Ask Sarah any aspects to support of your learning process
  • Interact with other learners on the programme

WARNING: This WILL sell out!

Because of the personal support from Sarah Blackwell, this course is strictly limited to a maximum of 100 learners supported by you as a business owners.

 Support Materials –

  1. Manual plus License to Use Forest Schools logo Trade Mark

You will be given a hard copy version of the Archimedes Forest Schools hand outs which includes countless portfolio building information.

This material has generated interest from thousands of individuals around the globe for Sarah Blackwell and comes with a license for you to use the Logo Trade Mark at your setting

This course is worth at least twice the special price we are giving it away to you for today.

(Note: Training is for Practitioners within businesses and organisations wanting to deliver Forest Schools Programmes to children and Young People and is not for those who intend to compete with Archimedes Earth by offering Forest Schools Training to learners and these businesses or individuals will not be entitled to a license to use the materials, concepts or Trade Mark.)

 

Your Investment for ‘Freedom 100 Forest Schools Training’

First, to qualify for this course you MUST be serious about adding VALUE TO YOURSELF or THE LEARNER AND TO THE BUSINESS using the Archimedes Forest Schools Model

The size and type of your business, setting, school, or organisation does not matter. You can be well established for years and decades, or a new and emerging one person business or a new start up company.

What does matter is your mindset. Because of the personal attention from Sarah Blackwell, this programme is limited to 100 participants and we only want those places taken by people who are going to take action on what we cover. You will have to return on the given dates within 6 months and have completed your Portfolio of Evidence byt the assessment date. (There is a fee for late submission of portfolios of £200 and rescheduling of Assessment incurs a £400 fee)

The full investment for the programme is £799 – but if you book now before the booking deadline of 1st April 2015, you can save up to 50%.

 

Yes Confirm My Place

Plus Receive 20% Discount on YOUR Archimedes Earth Quality Mark APPLICATION

If your setting is not currently a member of the Quality Mark Membership Group, you’ll also receive a 20% Discount on application to Bronze, Silver or Gold Awards including a 10% discount off Full price training on all future courses for the lifetime of your membership.

We are So convinced that this course will change the course of your life, we are offering a 100% money back guarantee. If, after the first day of training your learner is not satisfied you will receive your money back

This is a risk free offer to your business

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Get Children Outdoors

Empathy is waiting in the shadows – you have the power to release its full potential

February 27, 2015

We are learning so much about the brain and childhood and my goodness, how influential can you be on the future lives of the children you come into contact with!!!

childmsallfIt is the Environment and Nurturing of the Adult who has an ability to develop Empathy and this impacts on Epigenetic and Neurological Development of children.

This impact is unleashed in conditions of relaxation, wellbeing and appropriate levels of challenge. It grows in an environment of love, care and compassion.It is nurtured over time and space and by those in a position of power who are able to relinquish this, who are able to empower and to feed the growth though intention and understanding and care.

childrensmfStress in children releases neurone inhibiting chemicals into the brain, cortisol. It suppresses the development of emotions and empathy. Physical Survival becomes the number one unconscious consideration for the child, who becomes self motivated to remain alive and this is a primeval need. The secondary need for love or to love and care for others and the environment is secondary to the survival of self. Thus the need for the emotional centres in the brain are not required, and the chemicals inhibit them from growing. What a disaster for personality traits such as love, care, compassion and empathy.
Therefore it is reasonable to deduce that the reduction in childhood trauma, childhood abuse including emotional, sexual and physical will minimise the cortisol levels in the brain and as such enable and the increase the ability for neurological development.

Oxytocin is the chemical released in the brain as the child experiences close and nurturing relationship with mother as well as others. This Oxytocin is an essential chemical in the brain to grow emotional, empathy and social interaction, respect and a sense of self and place.
The ability for the child to develop these attributes is a right for children to experience, and as such we have a duty of care to enable this attachment to take place in all that we do

spadesmallfBecome the Empathy Farmers for the next generation, sow the seeds, tend, nurture, fertilise, support, protect, and love the children who are entrusted to your care. This takes time, it can not happen in a day or a week or six weeks. A farmer cannot grow a crop in a month, it takes different seasons and conditions for the seed to reach its potential

Children are NO different. Time and Place and Space and Opportunity and Intention.

Provide opportunities through your Forest Schools Programmes to develop attachment, opportunity, relationship, self worth, environmental relationship.

Empathy is a potentiality that is centred in the brain, this genetic part of the DNA is awaiting the environmental conditions to encourage its growth; if a child is given the support to develop through experience and continual exposure to the concepts, opportunities to develop in this area, as children grow into adults, there will be a shift in the way that these adults relate tho themselves, to others and to the world.

Peaceful Citizenship, a movement away from self inflicted harm, violence to self and others and the environment increase momentum towards ensuring of a Positive Environmental Identity and a further Sustainability can be achieved through the children who attend the programmes that you offer when you are clear about your ethos, about your relationship, about how you wish to develop your own understanding of the future.

As leaders you have to ability to nurture, to plant the seeds of change in the children, but this takes commitment and intention to do so. It means that your programmes will be long term as intended, there can not be an unleashing of the empathy gene orOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA a hard wiring of neurones to sustain its long term development over the course of a 6 week programme. Neurology does not work that way.

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

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.

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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.

Get Children Outdoors

Developing Self Confidence Through Self Awareness and Challenge at Forest Schools Kindergarten

December 13, 2014

There are different stages of severity of risk at Forest Schools and these go from Comfort Zone, to Play, to Challenge, to Adventure through eventually to misadventure. (Blackwell 2013). Misadventure happens when, in the wrong hands, i.e. those who do not have a full appreciation of the eventualities and consequences, or have an good understanding of the physical, linguistic and cognitive skills of each of the children, or adults that are participating, provide opportunities that end in injury and harm, and this can be physical or philological remember, according to the HSE 1974 Act, Conversely though if a child is continually in their comfort zone, then there will be lack of growth and development for that child.

Children’s brains are like muscles, oh, indeed they are muscles! If we don’t stretch them they will not grow stronger, it is through appropriately engaging challenge that growth occurs. It is the role of the practitioner, parent and teacher, to understand not only the presence of the risk but also the prevalence of any benefits and opportunities to learn new things that the child will be engaged In For example in Forest Schools, there will be muddy areas in the UK as it is common for rain to be present.

923564_275896705904789_5714965072686216262_nNow when we look at risk we are defining the likelihood of harm coming to pass as a direct interrelationship between, child, person, equipment or environment and the identified hazard. The hazard is the thing that could cause harm, physiological or physiologically. So in relation to the muddy ground the likelihood is that someone will slip over, and if they do, what are the consequences, i.e. twisted ankle, broken bone, bruising etc, identified on the Risk Assessment forms.

Now lets consider the benefits of walking on muddy ground; environmental awareness and the consequences of the weather and potentially seasons on the earth and the woodland that we find ourselves. We discover that our boots slide about, and if its really deep, we can make funny noises, we can dance and it can gloop. If its gloops too much, we take some of the mud with us on our boots and it erodes that particular area of woodland potentially exposing tree roots. Now tree roots can then cause a trip hazard.

1959876_269660456528414_1940686957_nBut by each child becoming mindful of the ground and change that happens, then it can increase communication and language, it can develop empathy and social skills, self awareness and regulation. As a result of regulation it can allow us to problem solve and make decisions, How do I need to alter or change my initial plans?, Do I need to tell someone?, Do I need to walk around a different way?, How strong am I? Can I balance on here?, What are the other children doing?, Can I help them, support them and tell them of the dangers that are here?.

I can tell the practitioner and as such I can develop my relationship with adults as information sharers and people who value me as a person. They can give me instructions and I can then understand those, or ask more questions.IMG_2781

Get Children Outdoors

Forest Schools Kindergarten

May 23, 2014

Risk and Benefits

April 30, 2014

What is the issues regarding Risk in our society Do we take risks and if so when and how and what is the role of the parent, carer and practitioner or teacher in reducing or managing high risk activities and opportunities?

If we draw the conclusion, which we may, or may not by the end of this analysis, what does this absence of a life without risk in childhood look like, and what are the consequences for us as a society and for children as they experience life and grow up in a world where risks are generally associated in a negative way.

If you invest money as a grown up it is likely that you are asked to fill in a form that asks questions as to your risk taking levels, i.e. are you a high or low risk taker. When you chose the occupation of adulthood, will this be safe and dependable or will it be more risky in its demands, its stability and other aspects. In the past as we grow older and we leave education, no matter what age, it was likely that we would be in a job for life, until retirement at 65 and then a pension would be granted to us. It is now the average that we remain in any job for only 3 years on average. The consequences of this continual moving and readjusting and movement and social as well as physical revamping and reconditioning entails a great deal of personal and social resilience. The ability to adjust to new guidelines, new processes, new managers, new rules, new social processes, we need to dig deep and find a new resilience to overcome, difficulties or problems that may attack us, like feelings of insecurity, isolation and the pressures that are put upon us to be successful.

All of these attributes of both social skills, empathy, resilience, problem solving, emotional literacy as well as being good at our job, can all be tester of our stamina, integrity and resilience. These skills need to be learned, and how are they learn in children today. Forest Schools is a prime example where children have the opportunity to learn through play, though the understanding and adherence to certain social and physical boundaries and rules, to understand the bigger picture, to know that on a holistic and emotional level, how the world works. It is a whole experience and as such all the emotions are engaged during Forest Schools, and even though it may not always appear to be of benefit, the highly emotional content of the experience allows the storage of the session and its intricacies deep in the memory.

The issue with childhood is that it sets us a foundation of thoughts, feelings and behaviours that shape our beliefs, values and attitudes towards the world and the opportunities that it offers to us as we grow up. If we have had positive experiences in a range of situations as a child this is more likely to set us up with a positive mental attitude, where everything is possible and there is a belief that I as an individual are capable, able and resilient to whatever the world throws at me.

Conversely if I have had very few experiences, few opportunities for positive outcomes, a curtailment of my natural curiosity, sense of adventure and wish to explore and play to the full extent of my capacity, I may well believe that I am no good, that the world is a poor place to live that it offers fearful situations, that I have no experience of dealing with, a range of individuals that I don’t know how to communicate with and this will influence the value that I put on myself, others and the world around me. Research shows that in order to develop an environmental identity, children need to be present in nature over the long term, and with a passionate and inspired individual. In order to be in nature we need to be exposed to the weather, the seasons, to dirt, to irregularities to the unexpected, to a wide range of people, situations, problems, processes and in these cases we do need to make certain decisions as to how we will manage these and develop the skills in order to progress.

There are different stages of severity of risk at Forest Schools and these go from Comfort Zone, to Play, to Challenge, to Adventure through eventually to misadventure. (Blackwell 2013). Misadventure happens when, in the wrong hands, i.e. those who do not have a full appreciation of the eventualities and consequences, or have an good understanding of the physical, linguistic and cognitive skills of each of the children, or adults that are participating, provide opportunities that end in injury and harm, and this can be physical or philological remember, according to the HSE 1974 Act, Conversely though if a child is continually in their comfort zone, then there will be lack of growth and development for that child. Children’s brains are like muscles, oh, indeed they are muscles! If we don’t stretch them they will not grow stronger, it is through appropriately engaging challenge that growth occurs. It is the role of the practitioner, parent and teacher, to understand not only the presence of the risk but also the prevalence of any benefits and opportunities to learn new things that the child will be engaged In For example in Forest Schools, there will be muddy areas in the UK as it is common for rain to be present. Now when we look at risk we are defining the likelihood of harm coming to pass as a direct interrelationship between, child, person, equipment or environment and the identified hazard. The hazard is the thing that could cause harm, physiological or physiologically. So in relation to the muddy ground the likelihood is that someone will slip over, and if they do, what are the consequences, i.e. twisted ankle, broken bone, bruising etc, identified on the Risk Assessment forms.

Now lets consider the benefits of walking on muddy ground; environmental awareness and the consequences of the weather and potentially seasons on the earth and the woodland that we find ourselves. We discover that our boots slide about, and if its really deep, we can make funny noises, we can dance and it can gloop. If its gloops too much, we take some of the mud with us on our boots and it erodes that particular area of woodland potentially exposing tree roots. Now tree roots can then cause a trip hazard.

But by each child becoming mindful of the ground and change that happens, then it can increase communication and language, it can develop empathy and social skills, self awareness and regulation. As a result of regulation it can allow us to problem solve and make decisions, How do I need to alter or change my initial plans?, Do I need to tell someone?, Do I need to walk around a different way?, How strong am I? Can I balance on here?, What are the other children doing?, Can I help them, support them and tell them of the dangers that are here?.

I can tell the practitioner and as such I can develop my relationship with adults as information sharers and people who value me as a person. They can give me instructions and I can then understand those, or ask more questions.

So the presence of the risk, even though creating a high likelihood of incident, or accident, also has surrounding it many benefits and positive outcomes. Emotions that are created in challenging situations produce neural connections and as such these help to store the memory in the hippocampus. If its there in my historical timeline of experiences then I can use that information in the future to make judgements and conclusions about new experiences, when I need to decide if I can achieve something, if its worth the effort, or if the outcome of the past experience was negative, as to whether to avoid that situation again in the future.

Children need to engage with risk in order to learn new skills and to embed knowledge and understanding in their cognitive and emotional centers of the brain. Challenge during outdoor play and at Forest Schools where deep level learning opportunities are presented by the Level 3 Practitioner allow the brain to process and take in a wide range of situation and environmental information very rapidly and allows children to test their own limits of physical, intellectual and social development Bob Hughes suggests 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 not 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 a serious deprivation physically and emotionally for that child. If they have not been given an opportunity to test the boundaries of communication, but trying out words, sentences and intentions in a safe, environment, then they will be inhibited in offering their own opinions and thoughts later in life when it become important that they do. If children are not able to explore social boundaries, and understand that they are able to make and set their own in certain circumstances, then they will be fearful of those boundaries set by others as they grow, they may lack the ability to question them, or to follow them and as such put themselves into greater danger later in life, where the risk of physiological and psychological harm could be greater. If a child has no sense of self worth and self awareness, then it is very difficult for that child to make rational and balanced decision as as they grow as they lack confidence and resilience. The challenges offer opportunities to get things wrong, to have to re think at Forest Schools and as a result to create something new and better and to know why it is better and more robust. By using the tools with a level 3 practitioner it is possible to understand that the process of rule setting, learning tools talks and being able to demonstrate these with ease and unconscious competency, allows children the freedom to understand trust. It’s the risk that is involved in using the tools that builds the positive attitudes and the robust way of working. Young boys especially, but also with girls like ritual, repetition and focused processes. It helps them to know where they are, feel safe and confident. By using a focused and repetitive model, this will very quickly aid learning of risky processes and allow children to use and adept these and become skilled crafts people if they are so motivated. We live in a world where children are very ‘molly coddled’ and protected. There is a decrease in the external school visits, the distance children are allowed to travel independently away form home, and the age at which they can do this. The media has a lot to answer for with regards to influencing parental decisions and choices It is interesting though that if we look at the fear that allowing our children to play in the woods is creating, then by looking at the sometimes scary marketing agendas of big companies like Nickelodeon and the message it is selling to children regarding parental and commercial behaviours, with a little more personal investigation can be much more sinister and risky in the long term, than allowing our children to function and play long term at Forest Schools. But the reality is that the protection we as parents and teachers provide could be in fact creating more dangerous and more serious issues for our children, such as obesity, diabetes, heart conditions, depression, lack of social ability and a dependence in the words of others through social media for our sense of self worth and place in the world as opposed to the confidence that we can ‘do ‘that, be that, develop that, grow that, plan that, reflect on that. Forest Schools, is truly, not the only process where risk can be learned, but is a good one, and as it relates to the research that suggests that children should have a right to play, to experience the world and to grow in understanding, then nature is the prime place to learn in a holistic way about risk, a supposed to discussing the aspects in the classroom