Wild Family Fun

Tales of living, working and enjoying life in the outdoors


April 14, 2014

Country Kids – Learning Outdoors

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.

forest schools

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.

forestschools2

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.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Learning for Life

16 thoughts on “Country Kids – Learning Outdoors

  1. Coombemill says:

    Huge congratulations on all you have achieved on your level 3. Forest schools do look like they provide such a great experience for children who might not otherwise be exposed to the wonders of nature. I’ll look forward to hearing how the final bit goes and seeing you in action!

    1. kim says:

      Hi, thank you for letting me share my story. Such a wonderful course and I got so much out of it. Cant wait to keep you posted of my adventures to come, thank you.

  2. I hope many more parents see the sense of including the outdoors into the school day. Not only is the play effective in reducing some of their hyperactivity but there is excellent learning available outside.
    You’ve been a great advocate for the outdoors with your family and have made an excellent job of educating your daughter in a very rounded way.
    Fingers crossed the Forest Schools are here to stay and you can teach more of them to enjoy the outdoors.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    1. kim says:

      Hi David. This course showed me that it would be such a benefit to most children if they could be taught in the outdoors. A classroom isn’t for everyone {including me!}.
      I enjoyed every part of the course, so interesting and the hands on days were amazing, I learnt so much. Not many people get the chance to take part and learn in a style that Forest Schools offer.
      Thank you for your lovely comments, I love reading them and they always make me smile!
      Kim

  3. Kierna says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your FS journey, I had said already I was curious if such training gives you more confidence to be outside with children & I guess this post answers that & more. I really look forward to hearing more about your FS journey.

    1. kim says:

      Hi, thank you I wasn’t sure if this post would fit in, but it has given me so many outcomes that will help me feel more confident in taking children outdoors. It also has shown me that we are all doing good things for our children if we give them experiences and adventures outside. Thank you for letting us share!

  4. The most awesome course ever! Wow! This is a nice read! #countrykids

    1. kim says:

      Thank you, had such a lovely time. Not many people can say that when they doing training courses!

  5. Fabulous post, I couldn’t agree more. I’m sad to admit that when we lived in the UK and I was working full time we didn’t spend nearly enough time outside. Now, we are outside all the time, and it’s wonderful. I think it’s so important. Thank you for sharing this x

    1. kim says:

      Thank you so much. The course is so interesting, I have learnt so much and had so much fun. Great that you get to go outdoors so much now and your photos always look like you have so much fun.

  6. I love the idea of Forest schools and may well have got involved had we not left the UK to come and live in France!

    1. kim says:

      It has been such a great course, really enjoying all the aspects of outdoor learning involved.

  7. What a great thing to be part of – I’m 100% with you on the outdoor learning thing I think my boy will learn better being outside but how sad that some of the kids hadn’t seen the beach before.

    1. kim says:

      Hi, thank you. It really has been one of the most interesting courses I have been on. It really lovely part of my job getting to share great experiences with young people.

  8. Linda says:

    I grew up in Sweden and absolutely love the forest school concept! I’ve visited several and still have friends in Sweden whose kids attend these schools and I do believe they’re great for kids on so many levels. How neat that you’re getting trained in this field!

    1. kim says:

      Hi, thank you. I loved my forest school training. I got so much out of it, and it has helped me develop my skills as an outdoor worker. Very lucky to be take part in the training.

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