An Introduction to the Team Behind the Blog ...

We are a group of Early Years Foundation Degree students in our second year at The University of Gloucestershire. We have created a blog based on the establishment of a Forest School. The information and resources posted are aimed to assist practitioners in the establishment of a Forest School however we have based our blog around a character called Freddie. Freddie will complete daily Forest School Journeys, this will make the blog more user friendly and enable it to appeal to practitioners, parents and children and help them to gain the most from Forest School and Outdoor Learning.

Victoria ...
Hello everyone, my name is Victoria. I have been working in Early Years for the past 12 years in various settings including a crèche, school and nurseries. For the last three years I have had the pleasure of owning my own setting, a children's day nursery within the local community. I hold a level 4 qualification in Early Years and am furthering my studies, in order to ensure the children in my care get the best possible start to their education and learning.

I am a big advocate of outdoor play and learning in the Early Years and forest school fascinates and excites me.When looking into forest schools I am lucky enough to be able to draw inspiration from my own childhood experiences of playing outdoors, where I spent a lot of my time. Children who experience outdoor play/learning and forest schools gain a lot of benefits towards their development. I find because of my experiences I am able to pass on my knowledge and inspire the younger generations.

On a forest school weekend I had the experience of den building, using tools, making fires and mud creatures. I took these experiences back with me to my setting and showed the children what they could do in the outdoors.
Outdoor learning does not need lots of expensive resources, the best ones are found in nature, with a little bit of know how, able practitioners and lots of imagination children can achieve and go anywhere.

Emily ...
My name is Emily and I'm currently working in a Nursery class attached to a primary school in Gloucester. I have been working within this setting for just over two years and have thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. The team and I work extremely close with our reception class and represent an Early Years unit. I have been working in childcare for five years and I'm currently the Early Years Inclusion Coordinator which is where my passion lies. I thoroughly enjoy working with the children and their parents to gain the best possible development outcomes for them and ensure that any additional support or outside agencies required are done so in a sensitive and sympathetic manner. I strive for perfection in all aspects of life and am a strong believer of nurturing all the children who enter into our setting. 

I have also worked in a nursery environment caring for children aged 3 months to 4 years, a primary school class of year two children and an academic year in a special educational needs setting caring for a variety of children with varying additional needs. All my experiences have been essential in allowing me to discover my passion for working with children in their pre-school year and being able to skilfully and successfully empower my team to feel confident within themselves to support and include all children within the setting. 

We have a developing Forest School on site which has been establishing itself for the past year. We have two designated Forest School leaders, one being our reception class teacher, who have developed our fantastic Forest School from scratch. The nursery children engage in a Forest School session once a week and share their experience with the reception children. The experiences they gain from their forest school sessions are irreplaceable and, for some, experiences they may never gain outside of their school environment. 

Lisa ... 
My name is Lisa, I have been working in Early Years for a Year, having previously been a chef. I have working in a pre-school attached to a local primary school for the past year. having gained my level four qualification, I am now in the process of setting up my own child minding business.

I have a four year old daughter who has opened my eyes to the wonders in the Early Years and led me to my big career change last year. She is full of confidence and likes nothing more than being outside, I am put to shame  by the knowledge of plants and tress that she has gained from her Granny!

Being a country girl I have plenty of outdoor experience, however working in a group to create an "Art Gallery" reminded me of how much fun you can have outside, and how engaging and wonderful it can be. I particularly enjoyed building dens as part of the team, and expressing my creativity. I regret the fact that I didn't get my hands dirty in the mud pit, but am proud that I set out to nature, my daughter and I have returned to the woods every weekend since!

Gemma ...

Hello, my name is Gemma and I’m twenty two years old. I am the Play Assistant at Pre-school in Gloucester. I have worked in Early Years for the past four years and I have recently achieved my Level 4 qualification since enrolling onto the Early Years Foundation Degree. I am extremely excited about the second year of my degree and cannot wait to implement more new ideas into the setting. From my experience with Forest School I have learnt that it is not just about the outdoor environment. There are many factors that influence and impact the way that forest school is taught, learnt and experienced. Children make the affordances with the environment using their outstanding imagination and the knowledge they already have. They form a greater understanding of the true meaning of “outdoor learning” and the experiences that they are part of a great connection to the aiding of development through using a progressive approach.

I strongly agree with the term ‘learning through doing’ and I truly believe that when children are exposed to real life experiences such as forest school, they enhance their whole selves in a positive way, developing skills such as practicality, social concepts and independence to name a few. Such involvements teach children the aspect of trial and error. By taking part in practises that include learning the skills that could be used for the future, for example understanding how a fire is lit or how to build a shelter, children will learn that making mistakes is absolutely accepted and they will then begin to think critically and problem solve. Not forgetting the fact that they shall have those skills for life which can then be utilised, alongside making special memories that will never be forgotten.

Laura ...
Hi my name is Laura and I have worked in a nursery setting for the past year. Previous to this I completed my Level Three Diploma where I carried out various placements in a range of Early Years settings including a primary school and children's centre.

While experiencing a Forest School weekend I took part in a selection of activities such as story telling and den building. One of the main things that I took away from the weekend is how easy and simple it is to bring different aspects of outdoor learning and Forests Schools into my setting. By being creative, imaginative and enthusiastic it can inspire and encourage children to get involved and follow their own curiosity. 

Chris ...
Hi, my name is Chris. I have run a childcare setting since 2008, I am enthusiastic and don’t often do things by halves. If there is a mess to be made, I am the first to be in it. The children benefit so much from watching adults prepared to be involved; it reassures them that there is no need to worry if things go slightly awry. I will admit I am not the first to suggest a trip to the park. The reason for this, I feel it is too easy to choose equipment. Taking away the opportunity to be crazily inventive, so by studying forest school I have been able to make my garden and nature walks more enjoyable and exciting for children to participate. I have also spoken to my girls (staff) who enjoy these outdoor activities including self-chosen, imaginative adventures, and have realised that this is something they are also keen to learn more about. The children in my setting have enjoyed more risk taking in the setting, as we have all learned it is a valuable part of growing up. 

1 comment:

  1. In Scotland there are other early years training that has been developed to encourage practitioners to go outside and enhance their professional knowledge and practise eg nature nurture, wee green spaces, nature kindergarten and Forest kindergarten. For a lot of these courses the training is 3 days with follow on support and training if required (eg knots, ropes and fire for instance in the case of FK). There is a real emphasis on responsibility, play and community.
    4. In the early days of Bridgewater it was early years students – not teachers - that went to Denmark and set up a Forest School at the college. I thought the training started in 1999 – only because I went on a course in 2000 and there was already a lot of support growing for FS – Gloucester for instance were on board then if I remember correctly!

    All the best and have fun!

    Sally York
    Education Policy Advisor
    Forestry Commission Scotland


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