Our little lady headed to her first forest school session this morning. At the moment she is tagging along to the pre-school sessions, as the twins aren’t quite old enough to attend the home education session until September. Then all three will change to that session where she will meet a more varied age range of children. However, I have no doubt that even the pre-school sessions will benefit her and help her develop, just not in a conventional way. Forest School teaches resilience, and that was certainly the main lesson of the day with the pouring rain not letting up at all. All three were suitably attired for a day in the great British outdoors, and everything went straight into the washing machine once home (I just stopped short of the wellies going in). It was back into waterproofs from head to toe today.
With today being the first forest school session back, there were a few new comers, so we kick started with some team den building to allow for a little bonding between everyone. Playing outdoors like this allows for several positive things to happen. It leads to a sense of accomplishment and therefore greater self esteem (and our den wasn’t too bad if I say so myself 😉 !). It allows you to be imaginative and creative. They built the den making it up as they went along, and then went and used more imagination playing in the mud kitchen. The children are allowed to engage more in natural spaces, rather than being cooped up indoors all day on such a rainy day, not so quietly going hyper. They are engaging in good physical activity and are outdoors instead of sitting on their bottoms with minimal playtime. My trio have lugged logs, branches, balanced on log beams, foraged for leaves, sawed, drilled, and scoffed marshmallows. All requiring more physical exertion than your average school day.
There was leaf bashing today, which was the craft, and making pendants from sawn off chunks of log. The children have collected leaves, and then placed them into a cloth, which was then folded over. A large stick then bashed the leaves inside the cloth leaving the leaves mark/colour on the cloth. The children were then encouraged to draw on the cloth whatever they fancied. For the pendant, they needed to saw the wood and then drill a hole in it, before drawing on it something of their choice.
Forest School also naturally encourages children to be assessing risk. Today there was the risk with the saw, the drill, and of course the fire to name a few. They need to be aware of their fire safety and I have been amazed at how quickly my two rather excitable bundles of cheekiness have grasped this and actually act quite sensibly around the fire. Both were telling our little lady exactly what she must and mustn’t do. She is quite sensible and would have grasped this, but it was interesting to see her little brothers trying to ensure she was being safe. However, what I wasn’t aware of until today was how anxious and frightened of a proper set up fire she was. The boys don’t bat an eyelid, but she was really quite worried. So she was being pushed out of her comfort zone and learning that it was actually fine to pop a stick into the fire with a marshmallow on the end. Her confidence with this activity will grow over the weeks and I am in no doubt she enjoyed the results of her bravery!