Monday, 12 September 2011

Non directive Woodland Session-Part 1

So, we started seated around the log circle...

...and we talked about how to keep ourselves safe in the woods. The teacher asked if anybody had any ideas what they might like to do and the talk turned to den building. Several of the boys wanted to build a den for all their male friends so two of the pupils counted how many boys there were, and then of course we had to count how many girls there were so we knew how big their den would need to be!

But during the counting movement began to occur, which got a little confusing, however it was the cue that everybody needed and suddenly they were all up and away. Nobody seemed uncertain or unsure, they were off to explore...

There were some crude weapons;

and creativity;

and hanging out with friends;

and experimenting;

The only complaint: it didn't last for long enough!

The only request so far: string!!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Whole Class Non Directive Woodland Sessions

One of the key principles with my sessions is that they are child led and as non directive as possible, apart from keeping ourselves safe. That's manageable when I'm on a 1:1 or 1:2 but how about a whole class?

I met at teacher at an IOL conference last year who had taken her EYFS class into the woods for non directive sessions but I stupidly didn't get her name or number. Does anybody have any experience of a totally non directed session, in a wood, for a whole class of KS1 pupils?

I'm hoping the only discussion prior to the session would be some safety rules agreed by the class and then we would move to the woodland and see what happens. The staff to pupil ratio should be quite high, maybe 1:4.

A very experienced forest schools trainer suggested I start with a directed activity which then naturally progresses to a more independent exploration and experience. I am struggling with this because I see the benefits of being self led within sessions, am I naive to think I can recreate this in a whole class setting?

Any thoughts or comments welcome...

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Start of a new term, new jobs, a new era...

Well, after 6 weeks of playing with the children,

finding fossils(this is a diplodocus bone apparently!),

and getting cold and wet

its time to reenter the world of work.

And the start of this new term is a new start for me in lots of ways;

although I love horticulture and am passionate about its value as a therapeutic medium, for me, personally, I've found I have to be too directive within sessions when the pupils I work with are growing plants.

Yes plants want to grow, and will do everything in their power to do so, but if you want a plant to grow well there are so many things to consider-time of year, light, heat, compost type, watering, the list goes on. And there are so many pests and diseases that might cause sickness or even death it can be fraught getting a plant to reach its potential(the parallels to raising children are not lost on me here!!)

I've found with my pupils that to avoid regular disappointment required me to offer my opinion too often for me to feel comfortable. My work is always about process not product but I've found it too difficult to repeatedly allow my charges to plant seeds at the wrong time or in the wrong place, knowing that those plants wouldn't succeed.

So this year I am concentrating entirely on nature as a therapeutic medium.

Last year I trialled this approach with 11 pupils, they could choose to do whatever they wished within the school grounds, which included some horticulture. We also:

made art with items we found

built dens

and watched wildlife

I can't wait to see what the coming years sessions bring.

I'm looking forward to being in the here and now, whilst wondering where I will find myself in twelve months time...