Browsing Tag

Risk

Childhood Development, Forest Schools, Get Children Outdoors

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

February 7, 2017
Learning and Development

Risk and its Importance in Forest Schools 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 Schools 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 Schools 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 Schools 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 Schools 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

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

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