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Josie’s Forest School Adventures

Posted: Friday 9th February 2018 by OutdoorLearning

Our Forest School training programmes have helped over 300 people become Forest School Leaders and Assistants, including experienced members of our own team.

SWT Education Team tutor Josie, has been running an exciting programme with a local school for children with special needs as part of her Level 3 Leader training. Here’s her story:

I have to say the difference I have seen in these children from the first session to the last has been extraordinary. Their confidence especially, and their teamwork, have improved immensely.

Despite the wintry weather I introduced my first Forest School group to a whole new environment for them, and through this experience they learned life skills including how to dress warmly and how to be safe around a fire. This developed over the weeks into cooking outdoors, beginning with toasted marshmallows and then twisted bread sticks until together they created tasty chocolate orange cakes cooked in the embers. The children learnt what perseverance meant with traditional fire lighting and the pride that comes with success after hard work. They felt responsibility over their own fire safety, and helped others when their friends were struggling to get a spark. Every child had the chance to express their own style of creativity with Halloween and Christmas decorations and clay creations, with results ranging from clay-headed puppets performing a show, to Halloween pumpkins fashioned into pet puppies. The children learnt how to assess risk for themselves, judging the best way to go about climbing a tricky tree, and establishing rules to make sure that everyone can have a turn and that it is safe.

The difference I have seen in individuals has been amazing, one girl began the sessions terrified of a spark from a flint and steel, and by the end of the programme she was confidently lighting her own fires and enjoying her marshmallow-y success! Another child began with us who wouldn’t speak to the adults or other children, but after just three sessions she stood up in the reflection circle to say how much she had enjoyed using the clay on the trees. It was an emotional moment for her teachers and a proud moment for me.

 

SWT’s Adult Learning programme also offers exciting opportunities for professional development for Forest School leaders and teachers who are thirsty for more! Courses this year include:

More Adult Learning courses covering arts and crafts, practical conservation skills, nature photography and much more can be found here: surreywildlifetrust.org/adult-learning
 

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