When conducting and planning a Forest School it is important to take a step back and observe the children. The observations of children achieve a number of functions,
- it gives you a baseline of their skills
- lets you identify where their next steps maybe
- it informs your planning for the next session
- it helps you learn as a practitioner
Below you will find a simple observation adapted from the one provided during my training. It allows you to observe pupils engagement, well being, emotional intelligence and other behaviours simply by circling scaled scores. It is often difficult to quantify these aspects of a child’s development, which is why observation is so important.
Below you will find my observations of 3 children from the start and end of their experience of 6 Forest School Sessions.
This child started the experience with a generally poor attitude to both School and the Forest School experience. She didn’t have the best awareness of her emotions, her well being was fine and she found it difficult to focus on the activities. Through my observations I also noticed that she enjoyed winding other children up, showing little consideration for their emotions and getting them in trouble.
I was so impressed by her improvement during the Forest School Sessions. She was engaged, focused and enjoyed helping others with the activities. At this stage I had noticed however that this was not being reflected in the way she interacted within the classroom.
I think in future sessions with child A I would look at how we can transfer skills to different environments. I would do this through highlighting and praising the good learning behaviours we saw during the session.
Child B was a very well behaved child, who achieved well across the board in all subject areas. He was able to interact with others and showed a good appreciation of their emotions. He engaged well in activities and was easily able to set himself achievable targets. However, Child B found it difficult to express his own emotions and constantly seemed upset and unhappy.
It was lovely to see how Child B came out of his shell during the forest school session. Through getting him involved in fun activities and the other children giving him support he started to show a level on enjoyment and improved his interactions with his peers.
With this child I would continue to run sessions that would demonstrate skills that he is really good at work with others. I would be targeting the growth of self-esteem, confidence and enjoyment.
Child C was one of the children considered to be uncontrollable around school. He showed little positive behaviour in any aspect other than his confidence with his peers(he was the alpha). He showed little appreciation of peoples emotions and his own well being. He clearly didn’t want to be in school or Forest School during the first session.
By the end of the 6 Sessions this child’s behaviour had dramatically improved. There were still a wide number of low level behaviours but he was more engaged in activities and was more considerate of his peers. One of my favourite moments was when Child C taught Child B how to do a reef knot.
I would continue this program with the child purely on basis that he thrives in the outdoor environment. Continued forest support could change the child’s life.