The long, warm days of Summer are behind us and the staff of Forever Green Forest School have been enjoying the colours of Autumn, working with our new groups since September.
September is often a time for reflection and I have been thinking about this a lot over the last month. It has been just over a year since I stepped aside from the life of being a primary school teacher and ventured into self employment, fully submerging myself in the world of Forest School.
I have no regrets.
This past year we have enjoyed working with a wide range of children, schools and families who have started on their Forest School journey with us. We have faced challenges, but overall we have experienced the joy, wonder and excitement that Forest School has brought to the children we work with. There have been so many special moments of peace, inspiration, bravery, problem solving, team working and happiness that we have witnessed that have truly made me smile and feel proud of what we do.
A simple, ‘Yes!’ or, “I did it!” A child who starts off not happy to talk in public, and moves to presenting their creations to their peers. Another who is terrified of anything small that moves, enjoying lifting up logs to find, collect and hold a wriggling worm. I am constantly amazed at the power of Forest School in encouraging and developing children’s resilience and self confidence to name but a few.
This September has seen the start of our second year working with Bourne Primary School in Ruislip. Last year, the fantastic children had their introduction to all things Forest School and began to get involved in developing their site. A willow tunnel was constructed, wild flowers were sown and a bug hotel and log circle were created. The second year has started with the Year 6 children getting involved in planting a range of bulbs in amongst the woodland to provide some colour when the Spring comes. We also have a hedge pack on the way from The Woodland Trust, which will create the feeling of seclusion and calm at the site, as well as provide a greater diversity of habitats and therefore wildlife. Keep a look out for how the children develop and build on the skills and ideas from last year. We are very excited to see what challenges they will create for themselves and the achievements they will make as the year progresses.
Forest School doesn’t just have to happen in large green spaces or woods, as we found out working with the fantastic children of New End Primary School in Central London. Donna and myself enjoyed transforming the walled garden into a site, where exciting Forest School sessions could take place. The children got involved in planting on the site, learning about the different trees that were enclosed in the garden and creating their own wormery and bug hotel. It was amazing to see how much variety of wildlife was encouraged to visit by making these simple changes.
Our Parent and Toddler group, which has been running since January, has got off to a good start this September, finding out all about Autumn through its colours, seeds and sounds. We love how enthusiastic our little explorers are in finding their ‘big stompy feet’ to step over the brambles and logs and how loud they have become shouting ‘1,2,3 here I am!’ each week. We hope this group gives the parents the confidence to explore the woods with their child and supports them with the development of their child’s imagination and creativity as well as providing some welcome relief to the challenges of parenting. Fresh air is good for the soul!
We are excited to be offering a second day, due to the groups popularity and look forward to exploring the seasons with our new families.