When looking at behaviour, even when considering an individuals poor behaviour, it is important to consider the impact on the entire group. An individual’s behaviour may disrupt the activity you are running, cause additional unexpected risks (putting others in danger), lead to other pupils behaving poorly and even imprint negative experiences on the rest of the group. At forest school you want all children/clients to leave with positive experiences and a love for the woodland environment. It is important to consider carefully what you will do in the event of a child becoming significantly disruptive to ensure that the rest of the group has a positive experience. Below is some guidance to consider when thinking about the group:
- Know your group: You should get to know your group before you head out into the woodland environment, whether this be through working with them in their normal setting or ensuring you have a briefing beforehand with those who know them well. Knowing your group will enable you to plan for certain behaviours; helping you with activities, locations, risk assessments and level of support.
- Level of Support: If you have a group of children where you know an individual or individuals have a particular risk of poor behaviour you need to thing carefully about the level of support you have in the environment. The level of support can be altered by considering the group size or the number of adults/practitioners taken. If you have individuals where there is a risk of children storming off or needing to be isolated from the group you need to ensure you have enough people to supervise the child but most importantly also support the group so they can continue with their activity.
- Location: Think carefully about where you are for your activity. Can you easily gain extra support, are you close to school, do you have mobile signal, is there any easy way to get the children away from a significantly disruptive child.
- Back up activities/Flexibility: Have a selection of activities that you can fall back on e.g. if a child is needing close supervision could the rest of the group be playing a game, completing a craft with more independence. Don’t be afraid to be flexible with the activities if the situation requires a change.
- Reflect and Review: When finishing a session, which has involved disruptive behaviours make sure you take the time to review with the entire group, talk about the behaviours and the impact they had on others, this will give the children/clients the opportunity to learn from their experiences.