The Adventures of Pumpkin Patch Nursery – Outdoor Classroom Day 2018

Outdoor Classroom Day – 1st November 2018

To celebrate Outdoor Classroom Day 2018 we wanted to share the adventures of a local nursery group, who come each week to do Forest School at our beautiful woodland site in East Sussex.

“Once upon a time there was a very brave and adventurous group of children who wanted to go and have fun in the forest.

Outdoor Classroom Day 2018They travelled on a bus for a very long time before arriving at the gate to the woods. They found their way in to the woods by following brightly coloured flags, sometimes they ran from flag to flag, excited to get to the forest and start to play. Other times when they walked carefully along the track they found animal footprints in the mud and sometimes they just followed their ears.

Once they were in the woods they had many many adventures…

They learnt all about the season of Autumn and what that really meant. They learnt about how the leaves change colour from green to yellow, to orange, to red, to brown and how the leaves fall off the trees on to the ground.

Picking blackberries for paint! Outdoor Classroom Day 2018

One week they collected blackberries and made brightly coloured paint, they painted pictures of the trees and made smelly potions in a big bucket and they collected autumn colours to create a rainbow on their colour cards.

 

 

Another week they searched for mini-beasts and found them hiding under logs, and amongst the leaves. They found spiders, beetles, ants and millipedes…that was a very exciting week in the forest!

The adventures of Pumpkin Patch Nursery

Over the coming weeks the adventurous children made dens and homes for the animals of the forest, they climbed trees and played hide and seek games, they collected wood and helped to build a fire using sparks, and they made popcorn on the fire and ate it, just like the animals in one of the stories they read.

 

Finally the children’s adventure had to come to an end…but not before they made mud cakes for the fairies of the forest to say thank you for sharing the woods with them and cooked toffee apples on the fire.

Popcorn over the fire!

 

Then it was time to sing goodbye to the woods, roll their logs back and get back on the bus and travel all the way back to Pumpkin Patch nursery.”

By Katie Scanlan

 

 

 

Circle of Life Rediscovery

If you feel inspired by the children’s story and want to get outside with your nursery children, or find out more about Forest School, then please get in touch by sending an email or call 01273 814226.

www.circleofliferediscovery.com

Marina Robb for Inspiring Advocate!

Marina Robb, Circle of Life Rediscovery Director, nominated for National Education Award!

Vote for Marina Robb!Marina Robb, Director of Circle of Life Rediscovery, has been nominated for a prestigious National Education Award in recognition for her commitment and passion for learning outside the classroom. Marina now faces a public vote to find out if she will take home the title of Inspiring Advocate at the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom Awards in November 2018.

Marina has worked for over 30 years co-developing and offering highly beneficial nature-centred learning and therapeutic experiences for young people, adults and families in Sussex. Her programmes draw on the woodland as a resource for health and well-being.

The Woodland ProjectMarina has been the recipient of funding from Natural England, Mind and The National Lottery, amongst other grant makers for her outdoor work. She has worked tirelessly to secure hundreds of thousands of pounds which has enabled  woodland days for families who have a child with a severe physical or learning disability, families who have a child experiencing mental health issues and 11-18-year olds who are accessing mental health services. Most recently she was the winner of ITV’s The People’s Projects, winning £50,000 to secure the future of The Woodland Project.

Marina has also helped to bring forest school training to the Republic of Ireland for the first time, and now delivers training in Ireland as well as East Sussex.

As well as co-authoring the book ‘Learning with Nature’, Marina has been Director of Life Skills Education – working in Primary and Secondary schools delivering self-esteem, anti-bullying and assertiveness programmes and designed Eco-packs for Sustainable Schools.

Marina is currently a founding committee member for Vert Woods Community woodland which hopes to bring people of all back grounds to the woods for generations to come.

Please vote for Marina Robb!Overall, her work and programmes that support young people, disabled children and able children, families and adults have allowed thousands of people, to find new and old ways of connecting with nature and reap the benefits of facilitated outdoor experiences.

Voting closes on 26th October 2018. Please vote here and go to question 3: VOTE NOW!

Kim Somerville, head of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, the charity behind the awards, explains, “The Outstanding Contribution to Learning Outside the Classroom Awards recognise and celebrates the people and teams who are transforming the lives of children and young people by providing or championing exciting and inspiring learning outside the classroom experiences. We want as many people as possible to vote for their local hero so they can get the credit they deserve.”

Many thanks for your on-going support.

Working with Nature to Support our Mental Health

World Mental Health Day 2018

It is perhaps normal to think of our physical health. If you hurt your arm, you will happily share that information.  However if your mental health is suffering, it is harder to be comfortable to share that you are feeling stressed, anxious, and even harder to get to a point where you may need to seek more help.

As a culture, we are particularly bad at talking about our feelings, what educationalists would call our emotional literacy.   Many schools across the UK do have programmes to help young people communicate what they are feeling, yet the teachers are rarely honest and open themselves!

Part of the difficulty is that we as adults, educators, health practitioners and parents are not used to sharing feelings and don’t have the communication skills to articulate what is going on for us.  We resist being open, as this feels exposing and dangerous.  What is it about our society that feels so unsafe to share feelings?

We offer tailor-made nature-based therapeutic experiences for children, young people and adults from all walks of life. We can work with young people and families who are experiencing challenges or emotional distress at school or home and are struggling to cope with day to day life.The importance of feeling safe cannot be underestimated.  This both comes from the individual and the container/society.  If the school, home, parent doesn’t feel safe, then it is unlikely to be an environment for people to share openly.  As adults working with young people, we need to be more careful, to provide the quality of listening and helpful words to support the journey of growing up.  At the same time though, I believe it is equally necessary for the adults to do their own work on feelings and to learn how to share what is going on for them and to take the risk of doing that.  I am not saying that we share all our baggage and personal stories, but I am saying that we feel able to choose appropriately what personal information we may say to support a meaningful connection, and to be an active listener.

The World Health Organisation defines mental health:

“Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her potential, can cope with normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

In our organisation, we believe in the power of nature to transform our well- being.  Over many years, through our projects,  I have witnessed an increase in physical and mental health, reduced stress and an increase in an aptitude for learning across the ages.  In effect through nature-based experiences we are able to transform education, health and family life.   Our model brings together practitioners who are comfortable with their emotions, skills at listening and care about others well-being.  All our projects support personal development, which means at times going to uncomfortable places and having difficult conversations.

Supporting young people with mental health issuesOur flagship project is known as ‘The Woodland Project’.  This is a partnership project with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and CAMHS learning disability and Family Intensive Support Service (CAMHS-LD- FISS).  One of our programmes offers young people who have diagnosed mental health issues a monthly day in the woods as a group.   The young people may live with a variety of mental health issues, from eating disorders, depression, anxiety, PTSD, Personality disorder and are some of the most articulate and vibrant young people I have ever met.  They do struggle to work positively with what they experience and are incredibly supportive of each other.

What can be challenging is how our culture stigmatises the young people and families who are living with a range of difficulties. Some behaviour is very cruel.  People share that they feel so isolated, as it is too challenging to access many community spaces.

We are currently running a programme for teenagers who are suffering from mental health issues

Natural spaces are often great levellers, where we can begin to feel relaxed (natural spaces reduce cortisol levels), and free ourselves to have different experiences in a group setting that re-build our self esteem, and give us a new and different perspectives on ourselves and the world around us.  Nature is a very forgiving environment, alongside all the multitude of benefits being outside in a supportive group provides.

Today is a day of celebrating our mental health and supporting ourselves and others to feel safe enough to feel, and be listened to.  My advice is to take a risk and share something that you wouldn’t normally –  the benefit is worth the risk and hopefully you will feel a little bit of joy!

Below are various personal videos about our Mental Health Project with Teenagers.

“The woods is a safe space to re-connect, it is healing and welcoming, I feel like I am not judged and I have learnt about the kind of person I want to be, without pressure and stress.”

CPD’s & Training Programmes

Courses and trainings

 

At Circle of Life Rediscovery, we run CPD’s and Training programmes for health and education practitioners:

 

21st & 22nd March – Exploring the Natural World & Feeling Self with Ian Siddons Heginworth. The theme is ‘Alchemical Ash’.

1st & 2nd April 2019 – Nature Play & The Therapeutic Space with Marina Robb and Kate Macairt.

23rd & 24th September – Exploring the Natural World & Feeling Self with Ian Siddons Heginworth. The theme is ‘Suffocating Ivy.’ 

In 2019 we are developing a 4 day Nature & Mental Health training programme for practitioners, exploring best practise from nature and well-being. Learn how to deliver ‘Green Care’ interventions. To express your interest, please click here.

Group Nature-based Therapeutic Interventions

We offer bespoke Nature- based therapeutic interventions for groups of people experiencing similar needs. These ‘green-care’ group packages are tailor made for particular client groups. Find out more.

Team Building & Away Days

We work closely with clients to deliver bespoke team building and away days for organisations, ensuring an effective and creative learning experience. We aim to draw out your skills, improve communication and confidence, give you a fresh perspective and to inspire! Contact us to hear more or call 01273 814226.

“It was the best away day I have ever been to and I would like to do it all again! The facilitators are enthusiastic and knowledgeable, it was a beautiful and peaceful setting and there was a good mix of sociable and quieter activities. I loved this away day and will have fond memories of the time we spent in your wood. The activities arranged for our team were simple yet meaningful. They were also thoughtfully put together, with activities that: required us to work together on a goal; pushed us (comfortably) to do new things; connected with our sense of fun and silliness; and some were quiet, solitary and mindful. Doing tasks we would never normally do together and never do in our workplace – making fires, using knives to craft things – helped us be and work together in a way that enhanced our team relationships. It rained, but we had a great time! Thank you.”
Dr Simon Tobitt, Senior Clinical Psychologist, Assessment & Treatment Service and Recovery & Wellbeing Service: High Weald, Lewes and Havens.

Donate

If you would like to make a donation to support the future of our Woodland Days to support young people and families, please contact us.

#WorldMentalHealthDay2018

Ideas for Outdoor Maths, by Juliet Robertson

6 ideas for using syringes in a mathematical way outside – explore outdoor maths.

Blog By Juliet Robertson, Creative Star Learning Ltd.

I’ve always used syringes for water play, mark making, as air pumps in technology projects and for having fun in the snow. I’ve always chosen the biggest syringes I could find – 100ml ones.

Find out more about Outdoor Maths on 21st September!

 

But this set, a present from a friend, fuelled the mathematical fire within me. Have a close look at the sizes and see what you notice – this is just the sort of thing to ask older primary aged children.

Can you see:

  • The sizes of the syringes, as well as increasing in capacity, are mathematically linked.
  • The numbers in the squares allow you to quickly measure a smaller quantity than the total volume of liquid possible. The three biggest syringes (10, 20 & 50ml) are all multiples of the smallest two (2 & 5ml).
  • The capacity of the syringes are all multiples of 3 – 3, 6, 12, 24 and 60ml. Again this allows for lots of quick mental calculations.

The syringes provide further learning opportunities:

1. Can you accurately measure the capacity of each syringe?

Show children how to fill the syringes to precisely the correct quantity and how to remove the air bubble.

2. Is there a relationship between the capacity of the syringe and the distance you can squirt water?

How could you set up a fair test to measure this?

3. Does the capacity of a syringe affect the splat it makes on the ground?

Or is this dependent upon ground surface and inclination and height or angle at which the water is squirted onto the ground?

4. What is the longest continuous line you can make with a syringe?

This challenge is surprisingly tricky. Your class will needed to develop skill of using a syringe accurately to create a continuous line. Then there is the task of measuring the length of the line. This is also a good opportunity to practice conversions between metres and centimetres. Be aware that the lines can be surprisingly long, even from a syringe with a small capacity.

5. What is the best syringe strategy for a water fight?

For example, if you could choose between having 1 x 60ml syringe owned by one person or having 20 people on your team, all with 3ml syringes, which side is most likely to win? You will have to agree a set of rules for winning the fight and also what behaviours are acceptable or not. Is there a particular combination of syringes for the best chance of wining?

6. Finally, it is also worth considering a conversation about the medical uses and purposes of a syringe. A discussion may also be needed about what to do if you find a syringe that has been left as litter on the ground.

To find out more and explore further ideas for learning maths outside, come along to our CPD day on 21st September, run by Circle of Life Rediscovery and Juliet Robertson.

Outdoor Maths, Place Value, Nature Counts.

Outdoor Maths, 21st September with Juliet Robertson

Date: Friday 21st September 2018
Lead Facilitator: Juliet Robertson
Where: Mill Woods, East Sussex
Cost: £120.00
Time: 09.30 – 15.30, please arrive by 09.15
Booking: Please CLICK HERE to complete our online booking form where you will also find payment details.

 

Whether you love or loathe the subject, this course will open your ideas to the potential of any outdoor space as a context for learning maths. We will have a lot of fun as we explore ways of:

  • Ensuring fan-ta-stick interactive approaches to mental maths
  • Developing simple lesson structures that are open-ended and begin with what the children know and can do.
  • Taking a playful approach to maths that develops children’s confidence in this subject
  • Using children’s natural curiosity about the world around them to develop data handling and analysis skills
  • Creating a maths-rich outdoor space or school grounds

This course is particularly suitable for those who work with children in KS1 and KS2 including Forest School practitioners, primary teachers, SEND specialists and outdoor educators. Early Years educators may also find the day of value. The course is backed up by oodles of resources on a password protected blog post and the many blog posts that are readily accessible on the Creative STAR website. BOOK NOW.

Explore Outdoor Maths and more with Circle of Life Rediscovery

www.circleofliferediscovery.com

Tel: 01273 814226

Email: info@circleofliferediscovery.com

 

 

Danza de la Luna with Abuelita Tonalmitl – Women’s Time Together

Abuelita Tonalmitl Bienvenido!

CLR in partnership with UK Moon Dance (Danza de la luna), Eleanor Sara Cihuaoctoquiani welcomed a Mexican Elder and companions to our Forest Haven in East Sussex!

We really value learning from other people and cultures, and couldn’t turn down the opportunity to have a day with a Female leader and ceremonialist, who for last 25 years has been offering ‘The Moon Dance’ in Mexico.

This is an ancient ceremony, where women would gather at a particular full moon, pray together, sit in circle, dance in circle under the moon.  The ceremony requires the participants to fast for four days and nights, to be able to ‘listen’ to their internal wisdom, in relationship to the non-human and larger stories of life. A female-based quest.

Last year, I had the opportunity to live in Mexico for 6 months, a well-planned sebatical to write (a new book with Jon Cree on a deeper enquiry into Forest School and nature-based practices), spend time with my youngest daughter (the older two boy are now adults) and to retrace some steps I left in my late 20’s, having lived in Mexico for a few years, where i  became a mother!

I had heard of the  ‘Moon dance’ several years previous, and having searched and seeked knowledge specific for women, I was eager to discover more.  

In the 1600’s, the ‘America’s’ were ‘discovered’ by the Spanish, the religious hierarchy at the time – who are responsible for some of the most horrific destruction of culture, in a very violent form.  Like in this land, people were killed for their beliefs, and documents & artifacts destroyed. We see this all around the world.

It is said that a man, perhaps a priest of the old cultures, saved a document that is now known as the ‘Borgia Codex’.  This is now kept in Venice museum. It is a historical and lengthly recording made on deer skin and shows among other things drawings of ‘the sun dance’, next to ‘the moon dance’.

 

Abuelita spoke of this history and the need for us all, men and women to reclaim our knowledge of this relationship to the earth and the wider context that we are living in.  As a group of women, to understand how oppression permeates our cultures – oppression that impedes men, women and children alike – that stops us living to our full expression – to know ourselves, so we can live well with the rest of life.  

I can hear a voice in me that is ashamed to claim and be vocal about the oppression of women, because there is always someone who is more oppressed.   Yet I know as a nearly 50 year old, how the knowing of women is often dismissed in both subtle and large ways. This weekend the Saudi women finally get ‘the right’ to drive!  I read the book ‘Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening’,  a few years ago.  These women were repeatedly arrested, imprisoned, humiliated to fight this fight. When we live in Southern England and have privileges, we forget so easily how different it is in different places, and how this still seeps into our lives every day.  Equality and equanimity are not the same things.

This visit provoked and awakened these things, as well as feeling a great unity and hope. That young women can grow up friends with their bodies, that they can understand how intimately their bodies and emotions are mirrored by the monthly cycle of the moon.  How we can harness this cycle to go within, foster mindfulness and befriend the darkness. How the natural world reflects us and provides well-being.

The older cultures hold something for the modern human.  This is not to say there is perfection there. But they hold a language and understanding of how things fit together, how natural law could fit with human law.  It is not them and us, rather how we at this time in history can draw on ancient wisdom from across cultures and enable the modern world to gain a sensibility to ‘the other’.  The ‘other’ that is more than human, the ‘other’ that is foreign, the ‘other’ that is feminine or masculine.

We have inherited ways of working that have been dominated by hierarchy, and we have had to follow ways of keeping order and control for we fear that we will loose what we have.    

How can we all be of service, young and old to each other? How can we feel the joy of giving, and not the fear?  In the present moment, all we have is right now, to have the pure acceptance of this moment and us within it, is a connected state of being.  In nature work, when we get into the flow, we feel this state of mind, it is part of the abilities that help us to live a healthy and happy lives.

Yet we have to have a vision of how life could be, and how we can contribute to that, to have meaning and purpose.  To imagine a world where we can live well, without harming ‘the other’ provides the steps towards that.

The Abuelita, encouraged us to confirm for each other what we know already. To not fear.  To listen within. To not defer to the cultural norm of some men. To remember.

For any interest in joining us on some women in nature days please email info@circleofliferediscovery.com

Contact Eleanor for information in the UK about the Moon Dance: eleanorsara@googlemail.com

Get Real. Get Messy. Get Maths. Get Outdoors.

Outdoors Maths with Juliet Robertson.

There are many reasons why maths is a core part of the curriculum worldwide. It provides us with skills and knowledge that can be used in our daily lives. From the moment we wake up, we are constantly estimating, problem-solving and making quick judgements about quantities and amounts. For example, you may need to check you have the exact change for a bus or wonder if you can still fit into your trousers after several days of a festive celebration.

Join our Messy Maths CPD on 21st September with Juliet Robertson

 

To help you think and plan maths experiences outdoors here are some practical suggestions:

Getting ready to go outside provides many mathematical moments:

  • Time the class to get ready. This can be using a non-standard unit of measurement, such as a song for little children. With older children, this will be using a stopwatch or other timer.
  • Use lining up to reinforce key data handling skills. For example, request children make two lines, e.g. those who are wearing green, those who are not wearing green. This creates a human line graph and can be used for counting and discussing differences between the length of each line. Change the attributes each time you go out. Your children will have plenty of suggestions here.
  • Problem-solve with your class about ways of getting ready quickly and without fuss. Link these to the strategies used to solve problems, so children can see how a skill learned has real life applications.

Maths on the move. Make the most of the distance between your class and your outdoor space:

  • Estimate the number of steps it takes to get outside. Discuss afterwards why everyone has a different answer. Is it possible to standardise this distance and how would we do this?
  • Count aloud and chant in multiples, e.g. multiples of three on each step: 3, 6, 9, etc.
  • What happens to your counting when you take five steps forward and one step back. Consider how to create links between numbers and the pattern of walking forwards and backwards.

Creating a gathering circle in mathematical ways

Explore the size of the circle made when children hold hands, stretch out and touch each other’s fingertips or huddle together shoulder-to-shoulder. Discuss and explore how the size could be measured. This may include:

  • Pacing around the outside of the circle as a non-standard approach.
  • Using a trundle wheel for noting metres or yards.
  • Using a long piece or rope or string. If you put a mark at every metre or yard on the rope then it becomes a giant measuring tape.

Estimating everything

Messy Maths CPD

Children need lots of practice at estimating so they are able to make reasonable guesses based upon experience and knowledge. It is a basic strategy for problem solving and enquiry work as well as a useful life skill. Being outside provides a real context for estimating. It is hard to tell the number of birds in a flock, bricks in a wall or exactly how long it will take to walk to the shops. There is a constant need for everyone to be making estimates of amounts and activities based upon our experiences. Teachers can encourage the children estimate and then to check:

  • Number: having a guess before counting the flock of birds flying overhead – we count ten birds and then use this to count the rest in chunks of ten.
  • Money: evaluating whether we have enough money to buy something we need.
  • Distance: estimating how far away the end of the playing field is.
  • Volume: thinking about the volume of water in one bucket or watering can compared to another.
  • Weight and mass: wondering how much food the birds will eat at a bird table.
  • Time: considering how long it will take to complete a task.

It can help to make group estimates where there is a consensus. With older children, the skill of rounding up or down is a natural progression within estimation.

Playing maths games

All around the world there are strategy games, which were developed using locally found materials on a board that can be drawn onto an outdoor surface. Games involve looking for patterns and knowing the cause and effect of moves undertaken in particular sequences. This usually involves playing the game lots of times and experimenting with different moves. Some basic points include:

  • Children need time to learn each game by just enjoying the experience of playing it. Older children can assist younger ones. Hold a games session so that parents and carers can learn different games too.
  • If a game isn’t going well, ask the children for their ideas about making it better. What rules could be adapted or changed? How can they make the game more exciting?
  • Games can be adapted to help the children acquire specific skills in many areas of maths. When you do this, it can be helpful to seek the children’s thoughts and suggestions. This gives them ownership of their learning and facilitates a personal interest.
  • Children enjoy inventing their own games. Whether you have a pile of stones or a few leaves lying under a tree, challenge them to create a game to help them learn a specific maths concept or skill.

By Juliet Robertson, foMessy Maths under of Creative STAR Learning, UK.

Many of these ideas are expanded upon in her book: Messy Maths: An Outdoor and Playful Approach for Early Years.

Juliet will be running an Outdoor Maths CPD in East Sussex with Circle of Life Rediscovery on 21st September.

 

Whether you love or loathe the subject, this course will open your ideas to the potential of any outdoor space as a context for learning maths.
We will have a lot of fun as we explore ways of:
  • Ensuring fan-ta-stick interactive approaches to mental maths
  • Developing simple lesson structures that are open-ended and begin with what the children know and can do.
  • Taking a playful approach to maths that develops children’s confidence in this subject
  • Using children’s natural curiosity about the world around them to develop data handling and analysis skills
  • Creating a maths-rich outdoor space or school grounds.

BOOK ONLINE HERE.

Circle of Life Rediscovery

Crowdfunding for The Woodland Project

We need your help for our Crowdfunding campaign!

Please help us to reach our target – The Woodland Project funds woodland-based days for families with a child with severe learning disabilities and teenagers with mental health difficulties. We are now Crowdfunding to support the future of the Project.

The Woodland Project - help our Crowdfunding campaign!

 

The Woodland Project in East Sussex offers days out in nature for families who have a child with a severe physical or learning disability, families who have a child experiencing mental health issues and 11-18 year olds who are accessing mental health services. The Woodland Project allows these families to spend quality time together, relax in their natural surroundings, free of distractions and judgement.

Run by Circle of Life Rediscovery and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, the project is funded solely through donations and external funding.

Find out more about The Woodland Project and our Crowdfunding campaign

 

Each family is supported by a Circle of Life Rediscovery team member and CAMHS FISS (Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service Family Intensive Support Service) member. We share food, set up family & child-led activities, provide wellbeing moments e.g head massage, and offer a range of swings, hammocks, tools for crafting and fire-making! We expect families to see their children having many ‘firsts’, from trying new activities, being more independent and experiencing risky activities.

 

You could pledge:
  • £20 for vital equipment and materials
  • £45 for food that we cook together on the fire
  • £120 for a head massage for a parent
  • £960 for a whole family to spend the day together in the woods with 2 support staff

This project is one of the most valuable things we have. I don’t think of it as therapy when I am here, it feels like a family day.  It is difficult to find things we can do with my daughter. Here there are understanding people, who are able to keep her occupied which enables us to have a family day out. Often we are protecting her or others. Here it is relaxing, it’s not about protection and this is really, really rare.” Parent.

“We have never used a service for the whole family before. We don’t get out much, I think this is the longest my son has spent outside in living memory. This is phenomenally good. He is safe and the girls are happily occupied, we haven’t had that kind of freedom before, today has given us a different perspective that it is possible.” Parent

PLEASE DONATE NOW

Thank you for supporting our crowdfunding campaign.

Circle of Life Rediscovery

Circle of Life Rediscovery is a community interest company based in East Sussex that aims to transform education, health and family through nature. They provide unique nature-based experiences and training for young people, adults, families and schools.

Behaviour – who is it challenging?

Behaviour – who is it challenging?

By Laura Kennedy

I always thoroughly enjoy spending time with my Forest School family and have been blessed to once again join in supportive community, this time at the beautiful Crann Óg Eco Farm outside Gort, Co Galway.  Twelve Forest School Leaders from all over Ireland gathered together to deepen our connection to our work in the woods and to explore Working with Challenging Behaviour in the Outdoors.  Our facilitator, Jon Cree, chair of the UK Forest School Association, guided us expertly and carefully along the path of what was at times a challenging and thought provoking, but ultimately, fulfilling experience.

Challenging Behaviour with Jon CreeJon opened the session by saying that actually the title of the course should really be exploring our own behaviours in the outdoors, at which some jokingly walked away and asked for their money back.  But true to point, throughout the three days I found myself looking at my own expectations of and reactions towards behaviour and re-evaluating all that I thought I knew about behaviour and how best to work along side it.

“What is the need that is not being met that is driving the challenging behaviour?” 

This question really struck a chord with me and I hope that I will now always ask this when confronted with behaviour that challenges me.   Recognising that all behaviour is a form of communication, especially behaviours that challenge us, this question, once asked without judgement or blame, will help me to look at the behaviour in a new light and to engage with the child displaying it in a much more empathetic manner.

Challenging Behaviour with Jon Cree, 3 day course in November
Empathy, simply put, is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.  In our role as leader, we must at all times meet the children with whom we work with empathy, and at no time is this more important than when coming face to face with a behaviour that we find challenging.

We need to acknowledge a child’s feelings rather than try to change them.  Too often we want to offer a solution, where as, in fact we should be giving the child the space to process their emotions, allowing them the freedom to feel.

By our acknowledging their emotions they can then truly feel that they are being heard.  And we need to hear them and allow ourselves to be heard in non-violent communication (a four-part process of clearly expressing how I am without blaming or criticising, and emphatically receiving how you are without hearing blame or criticism, stating observations, feelings, needs and requests, see https://www.cnvc.org for more information).

Forest School believes in a constructivist approach to behaviour, that relies on natural consequences and intrinsic motivators rather than rewards and sanctions. How often have I been taught that praising a child is the best way to promote good behaviour?  However, in doing so I am taking away their ownership of their own behaviour.  Allowing children to make meaning of something for themselves and to be motivated for their own good rather than for reward will lead to long term change rather than behaviour that is conditioned, as in Pavlov’s dog.

This may seem to some to be a risky and slow process, but once we bear in mind again our question of “what is the need that is not being met that is driving the behaviour?” We realise that the behaviour is not there to challenge us but is how the child is meeting that need in another way.

Working with Young People with Challenging Behaviour
And underpinning all of this is the respecting of children’s rights.  All children’s right to learn,  all children’s right to safety and and all children’s right to respect. These rights come with corresponding responsibilities, so while some may talk purely of how the adult must respect the child, let us not forget that the children have a responsibility to also respect each other and not take away other children’s right to safety or learning through their behaviour.

Over the three days we talked, we shared, we sat in silence, we sang, we role played and we challenged.  We supported each other, allowing vulnerabilities to surface without judgement.  In spite of sharing dorms and meals (oh such delicious meals, thank you thank you Kerry and Carol) and long hours of work that truly challenged us, there was always an opportunity for space, an acceptance of each others’ needs, yet an implicit understanding that we were all in this together.

I return to the woods feeling better prepared to work along side behaviour that challenges me, with a new style emerging that leaves me better equipped to meet each and every child, no matter the behaviour, with empathy and understanding in a calm and honest way,  true to myself, while respecting their needs and the needs of all those children with whom they share the woods.

Thank you Jon for guiding me on this journey, and thank you fellow Forest Schoolers for accompanying me, supporting each other and holding that nurturing space that allowed us to grow and develop along the way.

 

Jon Cree - Challenging BehaviourIn November 2018, Jon Cree is joining Circle of Life Rediscovery for a 3 day course, Working with Young People with Challenging Behaviour, in the Outdoors. The course takes place on 19th – 21st November with the option of an Accreditation.

This course will delve into:

  • What challenges us as leaders in the outdoors
  • Theory on challenging behaviour
  • Up-to-date neural research; triggers and causes for challenging behaviour
  • Ways of dealing with ‘real life’ scenarios in the outdoors
  • De-escalation
  • How to transfer outdoor strategies into an indoor and other settings – including looking at the validity of sanctions and rewards.
  • Reviewing your own policies

See the website for full details about this course. Book online here.

Blog by By Laura Kennedy, Wondering Wild

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Website https://wonderingwild.ie/

Forest School – A Day in the Life

A day in the life of pumpkin patch nursery forest school

Forest School Sessions in East Sussex

 

The children arrive for forest school all bundled up in waterproofs and wellies, eager to get out and splash in the puddles! We start our day rolling out our logs to sit on and collecting sticks to make a fire. As gather our sticks we sing our fire songs and set our boundaries whilst thinking about the day ahead.

 

Today at forest school we are making miniature gardens at the base of trees and in special secret places. We find sticks for trees and moss for paths and chestnut cases for hibernating hedgehogs and we look at each other’s gardens, they are all so lovely.

On the fire the popcorn has been getting hotter and we return to hear it popping in the pan, its snack time!

Fancy a free taster session for your nursery?After a snack and a story, we set off to follow some tracks we have spotted on the ground.
We follow the tracks all the way to the stream, trying to guess who they might belong to and find a toy otter hiding in a hollow tree on the bank.

We play in and around the stream, clearing debris and making bridges and splashing around until we feel hungry and a little chilly, it’s time to warm up by the fire and eat our lunch.

After lunch it’s time to celebrate the spring equinox, we dress one of the children up in Lady Spring’s green cloak and follow her, singing her spring song, to discover a special place with bunting and a nest with little eggs inside. We circle round to listen all about the days and nights being equal and sing some spring songs. Then we each take an egg and follow lady spring back to the fire circle.

After playing a game or two it’s time to put out the fire, and remember all the things we did that day and lastly roll back our logs and give our thanks.

We make our way back through the puddles to the bus and our journey home.

Find out about forest school sessions for your school or nursery

 

FREE one hour forest school taster session available as part of Outdoor Classroom Day – 17th May 2018. Get in touch to find out more – 4 spaces available!!

 

 

If you are keen to hear more about forest school sessions for your school or nursery please contact us by email or call 01273 814226.

Circle of Life Rediscovery

 

You can also see our website for details and information.

 

Earth Consciousness: empowering our action in solidarity with life

We at Circle of Life Rediscovery are happy to be working in partnership with Ecodharma in Spain. Ecoharma honours the web of life drawing on Buddhist Dharma and emerging ecological paradigms of our time. Circle of Life Rediscovery’s vision is to transform education, health and family life through nature. This partnership enables us to be support mutually beneficial aims and to reach out to a wider audience.

Together, we successfully won a European-based Erasmus grant to pay for free participation on a number of trainings that will support personal development and our future work.

Ecodharma trainingMarina Robb, Director of Circle of Life Rediscovery, is preparing to deliver this unique training starting next week – applying a nature-centric developmental model, looking at our values and how this support our action in the world, and fostering a deeply personal and life affirming relationship with nature.

“When humans investigate and see through their layers of anthropocentric self-cherishing, a most profound change in consciousness begins to take place. Alienation subsides. The human is no longer an outsider, apart. Your humanness is then recognised as being merely the most recent stage of your existence, and as you stop identifying exclusively with this chapter, you start to get in touch with yourself as mammal, as vertebrate, as a species only recently emerged from the rainforest… “I am protecting the rainforest” develops to “I am part of the rainforest protecting myself. I am that part of the rainforest recently emerged into thinking.” What a relief then!’
John Seed, Beyond Anrthopocentrism

Nature connection work can help us to bring forth an ecological consciousness – an empowering sense of connection and identity that affirms our solidarity with life. Rediscovering this for ourselves and helping others to deepen this connection is crucial for both personal healing and the social transformation we need today. This work can enable us to recognize that ‘we are nature defending itself’, and to draw on the empowerment that such a realisation provides.

Ecodharma centre

This training is offered to those who want to learn how ‘ecological consciousness’ can empower their action in solidarity with nature, and for those involved in nature based education who wish to deepen their experience of sharing such work with others.

 

The training includes the following threads:

Ecopsychological Developmental Wheel: A nature based understanding of human development. The developmental wheel provides a framing for questions such as: What developmental tasks (both social and ecological) are we called to attend to as we mature from childhood to adolescence to adulthood to elderhood? What is the role of the more-than-human world in our own maturation? How can we apply and give value to this through our work with others?

Immersion in Nature: Providing deep nature connection experiences, exercises and use of natural materials, we will open up our senses and the inner space to listen to the natural world. Through immersion we will find our own way to deepen our relationship to the living world, to open our perceptions to the ‘other’ and reaffirm our kinship to nature.

Inner Contemplative Work: Reflective practices that support the exploration and cultivation of the space of deeper self-awareness and connection with the motivating forces that drive us. We explore ways of applying this awareness to empower our actions.

Engaging with the Ceremonial: Creating the opportunity for deeper forms of connection to exist, we ask: What role does ceremony have in opening us to the felt sense of the sacred in our lives? How can ceremony help connect us more deeply with ourselves, with each other and in service to the wider Earth community? How can we draw on that which has been gifted to us by those who have gone before (ancestors and traditions) and yet co-create something that fits our place and times?

Living Together as Temporary Community: What is the role of community in witnessing, empowering, and nourishing each other? How can we find renewed inspiration in human community, knowing we are not alone and finding solidarity in these times? We explore how craftwork and creativity contribute to community and engagement with nature.

Ecodharma, the place!

In the beautiful land and retreat space, we will model a participative and emergent approach to learning that draws on our own backgrounds yet is responsive to the interests and needs of the group, acknowledging the richness found in collaborative learning.

 

 

Circle of Life Rediscovery

Marina Robb, Director – Circle of Life Rediscovery.

Circle of Life Rediscovery is a not for profit CIC company in East Sussex. They provide outdoor learning and nature based experiences including bespoke Camps for schools, Forest School sessions, Enrichment Days plus Forest School Training Level 3 and CPD’s for adults as well as funded programmes. Find out more here.