During my life I have always had a real love for the outdoors. I relate this love of the outdoors to a number of factors related to my own learning journey:
- As a child loving to get home from school and play in the garden.
- Being taken to explore the outdoors with my mother, visiting woodland, fields, beaches and of course camping.
- Spending a significant amount of time on the family farm during my holidays.
- Being involved with scouting from an early age. I have continued this into adulthood and am now a Cub Scout Leader.
- Having the opportunity to travel and explore the world. I have loved visiting places of natural beauty around the world.
All these experiences have helped shape my love of the outdoors. During the April of 2016 I decided to embark on the Forest School training. I had seen the program in a number of Birmingham City Centre Schools and had been impressed with the outcomes. My honest first thought was what a fantastic way to share my love of the outdoors with the children within my school.
I loved my initial training week. I arrived thinking I knew a lot already, however I really did learn a whole lot more. There were a number of things that I particularly loved about the initial training week.
- Learning more about the ethos, the involvement of learning theories and the focus on play based learning.
- Re-learning old skills, but with better and safer techniques. The tool talks were particularly welcome.
- Working with a group of like minded people I had never worked with before.
I left with a headful of ideas, but also a scary realisation of what lay ahead.
Over the next few months I managed to develop the forest school area at school and deliver my first few sessions. They did run successfully, I loved them, the children loved them and the feedback from other staff members was fantastic. From one session to the next my confidence grew and I felt my practice improving. I was keen to do more and start teaching the more difficult skills but respected the need to wait to finish my qualification and purchase insurance.
It has also been an exciting experience creating this online portfolio, which I hope I can continue to grow as my practice improves and I experiment with different experiences. The portfolio has given me the opportunity to develop my knowledge and understanding even further.
The Forest School Training has also had an impact on a couple of other areas of my practice:
- My Classroom practice: Through the Forest School experience I have learnt that even my Year 6 children can learn through play and exploration. I have been planning activities within the classroom which are more open ended and allow the children choice and freedom to play. It has improved the atmosphere within my classroom substantially.
- My Practice at cubs: With cubs my insurance has always covered the teaching of scouting activities, such as using saws, axes and knives. The training has reshaped how I teach these techniques to the children. With a greater focus on the children understanding the safety and also the opportunity for them to work more hands on with the tools. The training has also changed the way we use woodland at camps, with children being given more opportunity to play and explore the woods surrounding the camps independently, they love it.