Returning from Camp with the most exciting and creative, physical, outdoor activities, I wanted our service to provide more outdoor activities, getting the children active, just like Camp. So, we got skies, snow-boards, archery kits, golf kits and fishing sets, trained the staff up on each and began providing these activities for children after school, I also started building fires with them, based on what I had learnt from Camp.

The set up was simple, 3:00–4:00pm the children came and had snack, 4:00–5:00pm the children did a skill class (archery, skiing, etc.) and from 5:00-6:00pm the children could take part in free play. And this worked for a while, however, what we started to notice was that the children were starting to become rebellious about that 4:00-5:00pm section of the day, saying things like “do we have to do this?”, “can we not just go and do something else?”. Through reflection we started to understand that, unlike the kids at camp, the children didn’t choose to come to After Care, they were made to come. We were basically forcing them to do activities that we organised and the staff were leading. This was around the time that Forest School started coming out the wood work and I thought maybe this could be something we could try, I got all the staff at the time trained in level 1 Forest school; and the same year I went to University to get my B.A. in childhood practice form the University of Glasgow, during which I did my practice placement in Woodland Outdoor Kindergarten (WOK) in Pollok Park. The approach was very different to the adult lead approach we were using. They were very hands off and only intervened or got involved if and when the children asked for it. I found it very difficult to understand what was going on but at the same time was “wowed” by it all. The thing was I started off by observing the children and started to get bored of it. Then, slowly, I started observing what was around me; the trees, the plants, the ground, and this made me realise that children need to be inquisitive, they need to learn to explore and they need to be able to develop at their own pace. They were allowed to explore and develop through their own interests, at their own level of development and in their own time. Exactly how it should be and in line with the Curriculum for Excellence.

After completing Uni I went straight on to do my Forest School Level 3 training, and started following the Forest School ethos and principles: Forest School is a long term process and not a one off session, leaders determine each child’s base level, takes place in a natural environment to develop the holistic child, - developing  physical skills, emotional intelligence, creativity,  social skills and boosting self-esteem, taking risks in a supported environment, child led, where each child achieves through observation, reflection we utilise these to boost self-esteem.

We are regularly inspected by the care inspectorate and you can view our reports by clicking on the care inspectorate logo below

 

Next Steps...

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