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  • Writer's pictureNaomi Hannam

Why Forest School

A Note From Naomi

As I child curiosity took my gaze out of the window and into the bramble patches and mud of our allotment. My brain struggled to follow the linear thinking of the classroom. The noise, light and white pages didn’t speak to me in the same way as the flight of the bird, the sensations of mud and the freedom of the wind. I wanted to learn, I wanted to make friends, to create, play and be outside. As a dyslexic child I was given the gift of time in nature: at Forest school camps, on the vegetable patch and during adventures in the park. It taught me how to be resourceful, to learn by being curious, to manage risk and find companionship in the non-human world. It has lead me to being a forest school leader, outdoor educator and an artist.

The last few months have shone a light on the skills I most value. It has lead me to question where I learnt them and  how I can pass them on to the young people I work with. Forest school, as a child, taught me to be adaptable, it supported me to be creative, to sing, to talk about my emotions, find empathy to those who are different to myself and find a way of belonging in something bigger. These are all skills we seek to develop in the young people we work with following the ethos of teaching by being and learning by doing.  The last months have seen the doors close to the conventional classroom.  For years the outdoors has seemed a risky place to learn. Lengthy risk assessments have perturbed over stretched teachers. Now a brief window has appeared. The outdoors is a safer place to be due to the reduced risk of spreading Covid-19. Let’s grab this opportunity – lets get more young people learning by being outdoors. It feels vital to safely bring our children back together. To support them in their physical, emotional and social development. To support curiosity, community and creativity.  At TIDE forest School we think about the holistic development of every child. We are privileged to work in small groups – meeting each child as an individual. We support young people to learn about themselves, the natural world, build friendships and safely explore challenges. We  don't underestimate the variety of experience our young people will have had over these last few months. We look forward to welcoming you to the woods when it is safe to do so.

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