Outdoor Learning Intent
Our village is set in rural Suffolk and even though we are surrounded by fields, our children do not have lots of opportunities to explore the local environment. Like many young people today they are playing increasingly more using technology rather than playing with friends outside. We want our children to learn by experimenting, exploring and creating with a range of materials and to learn about problem-solving in situations where there are no set or ‘right’ answers. If we think about our own experiences as a child, how many of our memories are outside compared with inside? This is what we want for our children. We believe outdoor learning is important as it adds context to the topics we learn in the classroom and helps embed learning.
At Stanton Community Primary School we are fortunate to have amazing grounds including our very own forest area.
Our forest area has been named ‘Freedom Forest’ chosen by a child who said
'I feel free out in the forest'.
This is what we want all our children to feel when they are learning – free from fear, anxiety and stress.
Not only are we able to see academic learning outside we also see life skills such as self-regulation, risk taking, team work, resilience and confidence building. Research also states how fresh air and nature is beneficial to not just physical health but to a person’s mental health too!
We welcome parent helpers to our outdoor learning sessions- many of which enjoy it as much as the children and look forward to it too! Parents support us to teach the children how to light fires, climb trees, make tree houses, forage, and cook on a fire. An adult helper once commented during a session 'Isn't this just what children do?' I think perhaps it was for many of our adults but in our ever changing world we feel these experiences are in danger of being lost for our children.
It is also our intent that the children also gain an understanding of how their community works and use local community connections as valuable learning experiences too. For example we visit the local shops, church, park and walk around the neighbourhood to support learning across the curriculum as well as travelling further afield.
We see our role as educators and protectors of childhood and outdoor learning enables us to fulfil both of these elements.
In addition to our Forest school leaders course some of us are continuing to develop our outside practice. I have been learning to spin wool, dye it using natural, homemade dyes, and to felt. Mrs Matthews has been learning more about storytelling to add to her existing skills in this area. Mrs Sheehy learnt more about Forest School activities for the winter months and even made herself a spoon! All courses were with The Green Light Trust.
Visit a woods near you!
Can you take your child to the woods at weekends and during the holidays?
In Stanton you have Bluebell Woods and Sid's Piece. I know that many of you go to Thetford Forest regularly but there are others you could visit too.
During the Summer holiday I visited this ancient woodland to see how it has been managed throughout the years, as it is something we have to write about for our handbook. It was great to see so many managment techiniques in practice and it inspired me to copice one of the trees in my garden so that the children have some sticks for den building during their Forest School sessions. It is free to visit as are many of the woodlands around us, they also have events of for children throughout the holidays as do the Green Light Trust.
Find out more information about some of the local forests and parks by clicking the links below