Another year, another start to our Forest School Holiday Clubs, and what a way to start! We've had faces old and new come to visit, to shake off their winter doldrums and get stuck-in to some quality outdoor time...
With another club done and dusted, it’s important to look back and review its successes and indeed where it could be improved. As a forest school leader, as all educational practitioners, it’s paramount to review your practice. This enables you to develop and progress your own skills and implementation of sessions and, just as importantly, better the children’s experience for the next time they come. The week saw very a very positive turnout of children over the 5 days we ran it, as well as a day of lashing rain and mud. The latter weather can have a real impact on the comfort and longevity of children's play, but I am happy to report that our courageous Rangers adopted the "If life gives you rain, play in the mud" mentality which was great to see. It was a testing for us staff too, as those in the know can appreciate how much preparation and clear-up there is to deal with during such events (as well as bags of muddy clothes...sorry about that parents!)
The children made the best of the majoritively sunny weather, taking every opportunity to play, craft and learn. We had all our normal activities we typically have during a Forest School day: knife & tool work (whittling swords, spoon carving, using saws/loppers, making some simple photo holders as well as a few personal projects for the children, including a sausage dog made from Ash wood!), shelter building, fires building, cooking over the fire especially some delicious pancakes on Tuesday, creative activities like paining with mud and sculpting clay, rope swings, and some 'slacklining' assault courses down in the woods (“Slacklining? What’s that?” I hear you say! Click here to see - redirects to YouTube). It's useful to see the nursery's Forest School area being used by older children, whose group dynamic showed me different ways of utilising the space; this gave me some definite food for thought on developing the grounds.
These clubs are always a lot of work, and it’s easy to lose focus on just what is happening around you. It's important to sometimes stop and observe what's happening. We saw some lovely co-operative play, learning as well as individual projects and problem solving, children overcoming confidence barriers and fears, new friendships forming, and hopefully some wonderful memories in the making. I've already had some really touching feedback from the parents and it’s moments like this that you remember why you do what you do, and even more rewarding that children take your sessions home with them continuing their learning and passion.
We look forward to welcoming our Free Rangers back in March to bask in Spring's glory and to some hopefully warmer weather. We also hope to have some further developments to announce for our older children in due course. Watch this space! Thanks as always for your continued support and do please feel free to leave a comment below, let us know how we did!
See you all soon.