Saturday 25 February 2012

A Forest Kindergarten Session

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Aunt Annie said...

This is wonderful, Juliet. But I truly can't imagine anyone letting us do this in Australia- too many dangerous snakes and spiders- though I myself was encouraged to engage with the great outdoors as a child and did so without fear. The children look so self-possessed and confident; it's wonderful.

Jennie said...

This is a wonderful account of a Forest school. Sounds just like my class here in the US. I would love a training session to teach more teachers the how's and why's of outdoor learning environments.

Kierna C said...

Juliet, this looks like the perfect morning for all involved. I am so jealous that they are within walking distance of this site! Funny that you mention the collective snack, this is the only time we have it too - and your right the woodland setting seems to lend itself to this perfectly. i was delighted to be able to lend a local playgroup some outdoor gear last week so they could go & enjoy a session in the local woodland classroom. the staff all agreed the clothes made a big difference to the children's enjoyment.

Jeanne Zuech said...

Juliet - wonderful post and wonderful photos! Thanks for sharing Scotland with the rest of us. Getting outside -truly outside, not a 'play ground' - is such a gift. The forest exploration is fabulous.

Juliet Robertson said...

Aunt Annie - The bush kinder movement is growing in Australia. I'm not sure which part of Australia you are from, but certainly there's all sorts happening. Also if you live near an empty beach or other wildspace, I'm sure the children will benefit equally well.

Jennie - if you contact me via my website I can talk about what we covered. I don't have intellectual copyright over the work I undertook - that belongs to the Forestry Commission Scotland but it could be that we could save you and other time from re-inventing the wheel.

You are correct - this IS a Forest School set up. Here in the UK there's a fairly specific definition of a Forest School, not least being that the lead person is Forest School Level 3 trained by an accredited provider.

The course we were running was NOT Forest School. It was specifically designed for pre-school practitioners and is not as in-depth. It gives the practical basics around locating a wood, appraising its suitability, getting routines going, simple play activities and games, awareness of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code - all underpinned by a sustainable and Rights based approach. Some participants may choose to continue on to a Forest School course but we were careful not to create overlap here. The participants will also receive follow up support from the FCS Education Officer and the Early Years Officer within their local authority to help get children into their local woods on a frequent and regular basis.

Kierna - my dining room is currently awash with clothing samples from various companies as I'm putting together "Try Before You Buy" boxes for pre-schools and schools to borrow for a month at a time. My Easter holiday project is to get this off the ground. I've even got posh fleece lined clothing AND a pair of 9-10yr old thermal dungarees that fit me!!!

Well said Jeannezoo! I wholeheartedly agree.

Bern said...

What a lovely post - it looks like bliss.

Aunt Annie - I am in Victoria and just went to a meeting where Ben from Westgarth kindergarten was talking about their Bush Kinder in the Darebin Parklands. The issues of snakes and spiders are not ignored at all, all staff are first aid trained and ready to apply this training where needed. It sounds like a fantastic place to be.

Thankfully, I feel as if we are shifting away from our cotton wool approach that has been in place and instead teaching children how to assess risk and danger for themselves.