A very special Country Kids this week. My daughter has seen me type away and has looked at adventures posted on Country Kids, the special part comes from this Country Kids post will be that it is written by my daughter. She asked me if she could do one, I havent edited it, the pictures are taken by my daughter and I will admit that after reading I had tears in my eyes.
So here goes…….
Hello. I went to the forest with my Mum, on a lovely sunny day. I heard some bees buzzing, the wind blowing and the leaves crunching .I like the forest because it has beautiful sounds, colourful flowers and adventurous things to do. The forest was called Rudry, it was very close to where I live.
Me, my Mum and my Dad love the outdoors. We love the outdoors because we get to spend time as a family and there is no technology getting in the way. I think that being in the outdoors is healthy and gives us a chance to so some exercise.
I love climbing trees, its my favourite. I love it as my Mum and Dad never say no to me climbing trees. It’s nice because they know I can do it. Sometimes my Dad looks scared when I climb high but he is always there to catch me.
My Mum’s job is exploring and going on adventures. She takes lots of children who haven’t been to a beach or a forest before. I know I am very lucky because I get to go all the time.
I took lots of photographs in the forest, the bluebells were my favourite.
I love being outdoors, I love exploring and going on adventures. I love spending time outdoors with my exploring family.
I loved letting her write this post, so great to get her thoughts on why we go outdoors as a family. It makes our family adventures seem even more important.
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A postcard style picture from our brilliant holiday at Butlins.
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We’ve just come back from having a beautiful week-long family break at Butlin’s, Bognor Regis. We went with the family aka “The Boy and Me”, and we all had a wonderful time together. We really didn’t want to come home.
While we were away, I was thinking of what theme I could choose for Country Kids this week. Although we had lots of holiday mini-adventures, one sticks out more than the others, and it came to me while I was looking through some of the photographs we’d taken during the week.
The Butlin’s site is within walking distance of a lovely beach. This was great, as we didn’t have to load up the car and drive – the beach was just a five-minute walk away.
Here comes the Country Kids story.
We were very lucky to have had sunshine during the day and it was dry for the whole week, but it wasn’t “boiling-hot, bathers” weather. However, trying to tell that to my 8 year-old daughter was impossible. All she heard was the word “beach” and it was on with the bathers (we wrestled her into a t-shirt!) and she was away, adamant that she was going swimming.
I cantered behind, the sensible mum weighed down wearing long trousers, chunky cardigan and a warming scarf, though I did manage to show willing by slipping on a pair of flip-flops. However, I had no wish to go swimming!
This supporting role fell to my husband, who packed his bathers but kept his t-shirt on, as the warmth of the water became even more questionable when we arrived at the slightly windy beachfront. He looked at me, visibly worried.
They carefully picked and scuttled their way across the pebbles and down to the water’s edge and, (yes – you guessed it), my fearless little mermaid ran as fast as she could back to the comfort of the waiting thick towel and a tight snuggle in my arms. My poor husband was left to pick his own way back over up the rocky pebbles, with very cold toes!
So, we wrapped up warm, played with shells and tide-washed sticks, had some lunch and enjoyed the sounds of the waves crashing onto the pebbles. All in all, a lovely, relaxing afternoon.
My memory was not the chill in the weather, not the damp towels, or trying to dry her feet off and get her quickly dressed when she was cold. I love how my daughter was so determined that she was going into that water!
She didn’t understand about the chill factor, or the wind, or the fact that we were only just into April. All she saw was the sun shining and realised that we were going to the beach. I loved that.
I love how children can seek out the fun element in things and always want to give things a go, in the pursuit of fun. We adults often forget that important point, along the way.
Maybe we should all try being Country Kids once in a while, and not worry quite so much about cold feet.
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I wanted to do a slightly different post for Country Kids this week.
I’ve finally completed my training for Forest Schools Leader Level 3 over the past few weeks, and it’s been the most interesting course that I’ve taken part in.
To offer a bit of background info, Forest Schools is a child-led learning initiative that supports the curriculum. It focuses on the child, their holistic learning and personal development. It’s a hands on approach to learing, and is all taught with the individual at the centre. The learning is set in a woodlands outdoor environment and a range of learning activities are offered, to be freely chosen by the child. It really isn’t about the adults leading the way. The adults are very important, but their role is to facilitate the childs’ learning and development.
Small achievable tasks are set, so that children can feel empowered by actually achieving and accomplishing tasks set for them. This also allows for a setting that increases emotional development and social well-being.
We learnt about the history of Forest Schools. Initially created in Sweden in 1985, it was further developed in Britain in 1993 through Bridgewater College. It has since evolved and in 2012 the Forest Schools Association rolled out nationwide in the UK.
This shows that the learning and development of children in the outdoors is not a recent idea. The training was fantastic, and it only enforced my belief in the importance of outdoor education and wild experiences for children and young people even more.
We discussed various issues, such as emotional intelligence and how it should be developed in a Forest Schools setting. We learned about play theories and those theorists who’ve developed the importance of play over many the years. We went through ecological impacts, what we do while spending time in the woods and forests, and how to limit our impact on the environment. We looked at risk assessments, how to manage risks and yet still allow managed-risk accessible to children. We discussed the history of British woodlands, and also the flora & fauna found in the sites where we work.
There really was so much to learn, not just how to play in the woods!! It was such a fantastically interesting training course and, although very intense, it gave me so much to think about.
Our time was divided between lessons in the classroom, and time learning outside. This was great for me as, by midday, I tend to get a bit twitchy and struggle to sit still. I enjoyed the opportunity to get outside and take part in some hands-on learning using a range of interesting and slightly large forest-tools, which helped me to make some wonderful craft objects.
The reason why I wanted to share this slightly different Country Kids post, was to express that the more time I spend with children and young people in the outdoors, the more I see a huge reason for the education system to include outdoor learning as an integrated part of the curriculum.
If anyone has seen the film “Project Wild Thing”, it simply enforces the thinking and logic behind Forest Schools. The film explains how children from the Western world have been identified as having low self-esteem, issues with obesity and depression, largely attributable to the proven data that children in our modern society don’t have the experiences of being in the outdoors, as much as those children of generations past.
I see the positive results first-hand, when I work with a lot of young people who simply cannot cope in mainstream education for a variety of reasons. These young people have been classed as disruptive and non academic but, when taking part in outdoor activities with my team, and given the opportunity to learn in the outdoors, they become happier and more confident people. I have witnessed a whole range of truly wonderful things, such as taking young people to a beach for the first time, seeing them stomping through the woods, feeling free and happy because they’re not confined within a classroom. My Forest Schools training has really enhanced this idea, and it’s given me so much confidence as an outdoor pursuit worker (and as a parent) who believes that a childhood for my daughter should be rich all types of outdoor experiences.
I haven’t finished my training yet. I’ll have to deliver 6 sessions with a group of local school-children aged 8 – 9 years old. It’s going to be very exciting and the children all get the afternoon out of school. They shouted and jumped for joy when their teacher told them the news!! I have to observe and monitor how the children develop through the sessions, and I also have a huge folder of written course-work to complete, which includes essays, risk assesments and full descriptions of of the woodland environment of my chosen Forest School site.
Lots of late nights, and suddenly feeling like I’m back in school, I think!!
It really was a brilliant course, and I’m enjoying the prospect of the up-coming outdoor training. The reason why I’ve chosen to include this as my post for Country Kids this week is because, as parents, we should all try to give our children lots of happy memories and experiences. By taking part in this Forest Schools training, I really believe that it’s a huge benefit to their childhood.
With very little effort, we can provide lots of outdoor fun for kids which mixes learning and development with some wonderful family memories that everyone can cherish.
Experiment time with Bampy!
This is a special photograph for me.
I can remember my parents taking me to Porthkerry Park when I was a child and I did this same thing. Jumping over the stream, it was such a scary but thrilling thing to do when I was young.
I get to do it now with my daughter and at exactly the same place.
I think that is why this photograph really makes me smile.
I know that allowing children to take risks can be a scary thought.
Some people recoil in horror and run a mile when I explain that some element of risk for children is a good thing. In work, we spend a lot of time managing risk, and making sure that our activities are as safe as possible. It’s such a benefit to a child when they tentatively take a little risk, and the resulting confidence they gain from that experience is huge.
The element of outdoor risk, in our little family, is definitely increasing as my daughter is getting older, so I thought that an activity involving an introduction to fires would be a new and exciting experience for her.
While on holiday recently at Coombe Mill, we visited the beach at Polzeath.
It’s a beautiful beach with the most amazing panorama. There are wide open spaces for children to run and still be seen by parents. There are small cliffs and rock pools for exploring and, of course, little pools of sea water which are great for jumping in and splashing around.
We found an area that was sightly hidden and eroded into the rock face. It was really functional, as we were sheltered well out of the wind. I had brought a Kelly Kettle with me from work. The Kelly Kettle is a great way of introducing fires to children. You build the fire part on the bottom ‘bowl’. This keeps the fire small and contained.
Then, you put the main Kelly Kettle part on top of the fire. This becomes a kind of funnel. You put water into the outer “skin” or jacket and the flames send heat up through the middle of the Kettle. This heats up the water and, as the design acts like a chimney, one is able to keep putting little bits of wood directly into the fire bowl, to keep the fire going.
The interesting thing was that my daughter was, initially, very interested in learning about the fire. How it’s built, what was needed to keep it going and so-on but, rather than wanting to constantly “play” with the fire, she ending up being very aware and behaving very safely. She understood the dangers, kept her distance, didn’t put too much wood in the fire and, while waiting for the water to boil, became more interested in getting creative with bits of wood, string, cotton wool and the tub of vaseline we’d brought along to help initiate the fire!
We sat together, watching the smoke billowing lazily out from the top, and waiting for the water to boil so we could enjoy our hot chocolate on the beach.
So, when a it’s managed conscientiously, and explained simply and concisely, a little bit of risk has a great learning potential and confidence-building outcome for children. We had a lovely afternoon in a stunning environment, and our risky activity resulted in us both enjoying a delicious cup of steaming hot chocolate!