I’m finding the more I give my children access to forest school the more creative they are becoming in different situations. As I have previously mentioned I set up a den in our school playground (a small area of natural bliss surrounded by tarmac). The children are able to access it during break times and lunchtimes. After the novelty of a new area with new things to throw and a frenzy of breaking every natural resource in it, it’s all starting to calm down. Children are talking time to connect to the natural resources and think about what they can do with them. At first their creativity and imagination were rock bottom, they knew they wanted to touch everything but couldn’t see beyond waving sticks about and shoving handfuls of mud in the pond. With gentle encouragement and time they are thinking of games, artworks and ways to make homes for passing squirrels and mini beasts.
I think the main thing for me here is time. Time is a beautiful thing. Through the forest school training, time has been brought to my attention and a powerful tool. In the school environment, we are constantly running out of time, time to finish work, time to talk, time to spend with our friends, time to take time. The list goes on!
I have noticed that the more opportunities the children are given to go back and revisit something, in this case our little den, the more they can connect with their surroundings. I have noticed some beautiful little art works popping up in the den and connections to what we have been learning in class and at forest school.
I took this idea of time back into my classroom and discussed it with the children. I asked them if they thought we had enough time, time for anything. It was amazing what an emotional and open chat came from it. There was a overriding feeling from all abilities, all different types of learners that our timetable and curriculum wasn’t giving them enough time. They told me about how it made them feel, the anxiety and frustration. This was so interesting to me and made me have a real think about how things are done.
Now, I can’t change the curriculum but I can change the timetable. So, that is what we did. We had a real think about what was important and how we could extend lessons and lessen transitions. We particularly extended maths and literacy and what a difference it has made! The atmosphere in the classroom is calmer, more focused with a sense that everyone’s a lot happier. There are less count downs and battles to hurry children up. I didn’t know forest school would affect my teaching in the classroom but it’s amazing what an ethos and atmosphere can do to outcomes.