Forest School in an urban environment – how can it work?

Forest School Training & Forest School in an urban environmentAt Circle of Life Rediscovery, we run our Forest School Training Level 3 from a beautiful, mixed broadleaf woodland in the heart of the Sussex countryside. In this environment, it is so easy for our trainees to understand the ethos and principles of Forest School, to see how child-led learning can take place, the resources that are available and the importance of nature connection, they can feel it just by being here.

In a woodland environment there is so much stimulus. To our  trainees, it is clear to see how the children can explore and lead their own learning.

There are places to climb, logs to balance on, mud to dig, creatures to discover, leaves to throw, sticks for dens, the list is endless….but how to translate all this to an urban environment, where there is no woodland?

Forest School in an Urban Environment?

We run Forest School Training Level 3 in East SussexThe answer is to remember the ethos of Forest School – child-led, learner-centred sessions, which take place regularly (weekly if possible), with opportunities for supported risk taking, in a natural environment…this could be your local park, the school field or even a corner of the playground.

This, plus a little bit of creativity can go a long way towards giving the children the same sense of connection, freedom and opportunities for exploration and learning, regardless of where they are.

Forest School Sessions - find out more here

 

I have seen an excellent example of Forest School run on a small patch of grass, with one tree, in the middle of a housing estate in East London.  The children walk there from their nursery every week, the site is a public space overlooked by hundreds of residents that used to be empty apart from the broken glass, used needles and empty drinks cans.

 

Now once a week it rings with children’s voices, the litter has gone and the local residents know that Forest School is taking place.

As for the children, they are motivated, engaged and learning. They find worms, they dig, they make paint from mud, they use the tree to make shelters and homes for the creatures, they lie on the grass and look at the clouds, they play, they learn…to these urban children, this is nature.

Activity ideas for Forest School in urban spaces:

Activity ideas for Urban Forest School - contact us for more informationDen building – if you don’t have any natural resources use tarps and ropes – tie them to trees, fences, benches, bins, goal posts.

Mini-shelters – ask the children to bring in a bag of sticks and leaves as their homework. Have this available as a resource for free play. Leave pictures of different types of shelters as inspiration.

Clay – use it to make mini-beasts, creatures, fairies, faces on trees (or brick walls).

 

Natural paints – bring in a bucket of mud if you don’t have any, use frozen blackberries, crushed chalk, charcoal – mix with water and paint on the playground (it will wash off) or an old bed sheet.

Listening activities – tune in to what is around you, what sounds can you hear? Can you identify which sounds are from nature (birds, leaves rustling, wind in the trees, rain) and which ones are human sounds?

Mini beast hunting – Use magnifiers to search carefully in the corners of buildings, in the cracks of the pavement, in flower beds….. it’s amazing what you can find, even in a concrete jungle.

The most important thing is to get out there, the environment (even if it is urban) and the children’s imagination will do the rest.

By Katie Scanlan, Circle of Life Rediscovery.

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Endorsed FSA TrainerForest School Training Level 3 Courses:

If you are keen on Forest School Level 3 Training in East Sussex, our next courses are:

 

 

Course One
Part one: 4th & 5th March (Mill Woods) & 6th & 7th March (Picketts Wood).
Part two: 29th April – 1st May (Mill Woods).
Part three: 20th – 21st May (Mill Woods).

Course Two
Part 1: 26th, 27th & 30th September and 1st, 2nd October 2019.
Part 2: 27th, 28th February and 2nd, 3rd March 2020.
Location to be confirmed but will be East Sussex/Brighton area.

Please visit our website for details.

 

Circle of Life RediscoveryTransforming education, health and family through nature.

Circle of Life Rediscovery provides exciting and highly beneficial nature-centred learning and therapeutic experiences for young people, adults, and families in Sussex woodlands, along with innovative continuing professional development for the health, well being and teaching professionals who are supporting them.

Neuroscience of Early Years: Attachment and Sensory Enrichment

Neuroscience of Early Years

Neuroscience of Early Years – here’s a little thought experiment. Imagine you have been asleep in a warm and comfortable snug place .… a feeling of such safety encompasses you…  but … you cannot remain there … you are being forced out. It is inevitable you have to face a tunnel which leads to something never encountered before … bright light …. unmuffled sounds which resonate in your head …. and an almighty gasp leads to you to make the loudest noise … you scream … you cannot stop screaming … then a familiar sound and you feel the touch of something holding you … fear subsides as your mouth finds the food source…. you can return to the warm cosy La La land you know … but just for a short while… it will take you months and years to be able to subdue the innate fear and instinctive drive to seek an ‘other’ to comfort and protect you…. so …

What do you need to do to start feeling less fearful?

 Neuroscience of Early Years: Attachment and Sensory Enrichment by Kate Macairt“If it is true that as infants we are indeed “born into trauma”, is it possible that as adults we have the experience of trauma at the very foundations of our psyches and emotional lives? If so, does the degree of trauma vary from individual to individual?” 

Dr F.Woolverton 2018 (psychologytoday.com)

PROTECT AND SURVIVE

Find out more about Neuroscience of early yearsAs soon as any baby mammal is born the major task they face is survival. Human babies can survive even if the ‘other’ is a wolf or monkey as long as their basic needs are met. This is the premise of Attachment Theory (John Bowlby 1907 – 1990):  the human baby needs a primary care giver as the human mammal is the least well equipped for survival.

Human babies rely on an ‘other’ for at least five years before they have really learned to control body functions, walk, communicate and feed themselves. A chimpanzee’s childhood also lasts 5 years but what they learn in those 5 years equips them very efficiently for survival, I am not sure the same can be said for a 5 year old human child. But then we expect our human offspring to learn so many more complex activities than mere survival, in fact perhaps we are moving further and further away from helping show our young how to survive life?

Child psychologist Donald Winnicott identified the basic needs a baby has as Holding, Feeding, Mutual Cooing, Reflection, and Shelter.

These behaviours, as well as helping the baby begin to control their body are essential for learning how to relate to ‘other’ and begin to trust ‘other.’ Recent research in neurobiology also suggests that another basic need for crucial healthy brain development and sociability is sensory enrichment. The baby brain requires a rich and diverse experience of sound, sight, taste, smell, touch if the foundation structure of neural pathways is to be strong and firm. If the foundation brain is strong then the child is able to begin to rationalise feelings and reduce fear. Humans need positive experience for relationship to ‘other’ and environment.

It is essential to provide opportunities for baby to experience natural and organic sensory stimuli as well as man-made stimuli. Why?

If a baby is to develop an understanding of the world and how she fits in it, she needs to explore other living growing things as well as inanimate objects. A sense of confidence and resilience can only grow when we feel in control of our life. We learn that feeling by being allowed to explore and discover what we can control and what we cannot.  WE CAN KEEP ON BUILDING CONFIDENCE AND RESILIENCE THROUGHOUT OUR LIFE IF WE KEEP ENRICHING OUR SENSORY INPUTS (Read about our Therapeutic Play training to learn more).

WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?

What's love got to do with it?Goldilocks Fear alerted by the wrong eyes, ears, mouth.

The new-born infant screams for attention and the ‘significant other’ responds. Bowlby identified the need for that ‘other’ to be consistent. Why? Because the baby is responding to the ‘other’ as a mammal and is learning to recognise certain sound, smell, taste, touch, sight as the important ‘other’ who supports her survival. What Bowlby called Secure Attachment is the relationship between baby and ‘other’ based on the ‘good enough’ meeting of the baby survival needs.  Out of attachment comes the feeling which as the child matures, she identifies as love. She can begin to extend her circle of trust and permit ‘others’ to contribute to meeting her needs.

Circle of Trust

Trust starts with one to one relationships. The baby needs a consistent primary relationship if she is beginning to develop CORE SAFETY. If the primary relationship provides good enough basic needs then as the baby grows she will seek more relationships.

If the ‘significant others’ ability to meet the baby’s needs is lacking the child still attempts to attach to ‘other’ but she learns that ‘others’ will not support her survival all the time; she cannot quite trust ‘other’ to keep her feeling safe and she will never quite prevent Fear impacting on her experience of life. That too becomes what love means.

The quality and energy of our early relationships become the model for future relationships. We have stored information based on what we have experienced.  It is helpful to consider our early attachment relationships to truly understand our Self – and it’s never too late to re-file feelings under different headings! Growing up continues throughout our whole life.

LEARNING TO BE OUR SELF

All our memory of events passed have their origin in the cocktail of sensory inputs our brain inputted at the time of the event.

Learning to be ourselfWe make sense of our life by building a story; this is my beginning my middle and end.  How we remember the story is defined by the sensory inputs which have occurred and whether they resulted in feelings of joy, sadness, anxiety, guilt, or Fear.

 

Because we have two systems of thinking: System 1 – unconscious and automatic and System 2 – conscious and controlled, we are not always aware of how stored sensory feelings may impact on our everyday events. Have you ever encountered a sudden change of mood which seemed to come from nowhere but emerges after chatting with a colleague? Or perhaps you may have an ‘irrational’ fear but no memory of any reason why you should have that fear?

These are some of my sensory triggers; a certain smell which makes me think of home, a song on the radio reminds me of teenage days, looking at old photos floods me with feelings of nostalgia which are happy, sad, the smell of polish on old wood stimulates deep memories of my old nursery, the feeling of moss under foot, hearing a robin sing, the feel of the trunk of a large oak tree, watching wood lice, making daisy chains. The sensory experiences I am having today may be fresh and new or they may resonate with sensory experiences from the past and the same feeling from years ago re-emerges in the present moment.

Neuroscience of Early YearsChildhood is the time we all have used to build our sense of Self and there is so much to learn if we are to be able to ‘exist as oneself’ as Winnicott said. If you have or look after babies, infants, children the most significant benefit to their development is to go exploring. Crawling under tables and meeting the challenge of the stairs, feeling slushy mud splash your face, crunch across dried leaves.

 

 

Many early years providers now incorporate outdoor play and the mud kitchen as a regular feature, but if this sort of indoor and outdoor exploration is limited to a school/nursery environment it cannot become a fully integrated resource in the child’s life. The level of self-confidence and resilience that helps us know and understand our Self will largely depend on the diversity and strength of the sensory foundation brain neural connections. Because the brain is plastic we can continue to strengthen neural networks and shift feelings and thoughts if we provide the right sort of stimuli. The importance of sensory inputs to brain growth means we continue to benefit from enrichment and deepen our understanding of Self through connection to environment and Other.

Neuroscience of early yearsSo ….get out and explore the world with babies, infants, children, old folk!  Make a point of finding a new smell, a new sight, a new taste, a new noise and a new touch every day. If you like competitions then see who can enlarge their sensory input the most in a week! There are endless ways – just make sure you are having FUN and that no one feels JUDGED.

Kate Macairt, Director, Circle of Life Rediscovery CIC

Circle of Life RediscoveryTransforming education, health and family through nature.

Circle of Life Rediscovery provides exciting and highly beneficial nature-centred learning and therapeutic experiences for young people, adults, and families in Sussex woodlands, along with innovative continuing professional development for the health, well being and teaching professionals who are supporting them.

Find out about our CPD’s here and our Forest School Training here. If you are keen to hear more about events and training please join our newsletter here.

Nature Pedagogy – the teaching of nature within a nature-centric worldview.

Nature Pedagogy

NATURE PEDAGOGY AND GAMES FOR LEARNING - CPD course in AprilWhilst the use of the terminology ‘nature pedagogy’ may appear relatively new, developing a deep nature connection and understanding how our needs and interests can be met successfully though nature to provide a meaningful contribution to our lives, is our most ancient and biologically responsive blueprint.

As a teacher we often use this word ‘pedagogy’.  Simply stated, it is the method and practice of teaching.  It involves understanding the learner’s needs, their interests and providing relevant experiences that our meaningful.

 

Our modern culture is very disconnected from nature.  Our rational approach to this inconceivably complex and successful living system, is diminished to an object that we can exploit and deny our own animal heritage.

The development of our pre-frontal cortex, that defines human evolution, rest on a much larger sensory-based brain that thrives on relationships and filtering sensory information and feelings.    Our capacity to view nature as an ally, a necessary partner and great, great, great grandparent is determined partly by our capacity to be empathetic, to feel through our senses, and to see a much bigger picture of our past and our future.

The Big Questions?

I have been largely influenced by the big questions: Why? What? How?  I suppose I never stopped being the person who wanted to know why? Why do people believe in god? Why are some people more valued than others? Why is life unfair?  How do people know they are right? What happens when we die? Why is it so difficult for our society to create systems that look after nature – as an absolute priority.  I don’t think there are easy answers, and I know the different points of view are inevitable, despite nature as our common interest.

Nature Pedagogy, Well-being & Therapeutic training in East Sussex this yearWhat I have observed is that young children, particularly the early years have a wonderful facility to experience the world as animistic, that everything is a subject not an object.  A child can easily converse with ‘inanimate objects’ and are very comfortable immersing themselves in their own imagination, which for them, is real.   In the west this facility seems to diminish, whereas in earth-sensory-based cultures it usually prevails.

I have studied many different cultures and worldviews.  I tried for many years to square what seems like story-making about a mountain, or river, the apparent communication that many traditional people have with nature, as not real.  I can’t stop objectifying.  Yet, I have been fascinated by healing practices and the intimacy of those people with nature, all offering different ‘answers’ to those big questions.  How tantalising.

Recently I was listening to a Ted Talk on Animism and the Maori people and the presenter beautifully explained that their worldview is like belonging to a vast family – tree, the humans, the animals, the plants, the seas, the stars, are all family. He asked if we consider our pet dog as part of the family?  Yes, of course.  I know and love my dog Ruby, she doesn’t speak, but she communicates and empathises.  It is only a little more of a jump, and a lot more time,  to feel a meaningful relationship to land, mountain, or tree where  your worldview  transforms to a friendly, caring approach, with gratitude for life.

Our entire system is operated by nature’s own manual.   It is the primary way our neurological system is strengthened and extended.   With our natural senses intact, we can be happy and healthy. Without time in nature, our systems become dysfunctional and we are undernourished, mistaking shopping and screen life with life-sustaining human and nature connection. One cannot replace the other, it will never do that.

Transforming education, health and family through nature.Nature sends out a multitude of natural chemicals (at quantum level everything is energy) and we respond, even if we don’t know it.  This ‘serve and return’ between nature and humans is the way we grow, learn, and thrive.  Nature pedagogy puts us back in touch with our natural and original operating system. Not the human-imposed one, but one that sits in a large wheel of life representing all of life, as we can possibly know it.

From ideas of creation to the life cycle of a plant.   There are many models and methods, tools and skills that help us to find our way back to nature’s medicine, and to provide this for ourselves and our children.  Learning through experiences in nature, building psychological flexibility and pursuing important values increase our well-being and restores a natural balance in all of us.

Keep in touch to find out more about Nature Pedagogy and:

  • Approaches within nature education and key differences
  • Connection Practices & nature awareness games
  • Nature-centric models that inform our planning and holistic approach
  • Experiencing and activities that support an inclusive and nature-centric worldview
  • Indicators of awareness and attributes

Our work draws on best practice from Forest School, ecopsychology, ecotherapy, indigenous and western knowledge,  earth education and deep nature connection.

By Marina Robb, Circle of Life Rediscovery – Director.

Nature Pedagogy related CPD’s & Courses:

21st & 22nd March: Exploring the Natural World & Feeling Self with Ian Siddons Heginworth
This training will apply the therapeutic use of natural materials, natural locations, natural themes and natural cycles. The theme is ‘Alchemical Ash.’
Location: Mill Woods, near Laughton, East Sussex. Time: 09.30 – 17.00. Cost £175.

1st & 2nd April: Nature Play & the Therapeutic Space
An Experiential training for health and education practitioners wanting to work in ‘Green Spaces’.
Location: Mill Woods, near Laughton, East Sussex. Time: 09.30 – 15.30. Cost £175.

17th April: Nature Pedagogy and Games for Learning
This workshop brings together new thinking around ‘Nature Pedagogy’.  This includes exploring the models, methods, worldviews and values that underpin our teaching practice in nature.
Location:
Mill Woods, near Laughton, East Sussex. Time: 09.30 – 15.30. Cost £95.

25th & 26th May: Landplay Therapy
Post qualifying training for Play Therapists, Counsellors and Psychotherapists. This two -day training will provide you with the tools you need to extend your therapeutic practice to include indoor and outdoor sessions.
Location:
Brook Farm, Messing, Essex Time: 09.30 – 16.00 Cost £165.

Visit our website for full details.

Transforming education, health and family through nature.

Circle of Life RediscoveryCircle of Life Rediscovery provides exciting and highly beneficial nature-centred learning and therapeutic experiences for young people, adults, and families in Sussex woodlands, along with innovative continuing professional development for the health, well being and teaching professionals who are supporting them.

www.circleofliferediscovery.com

info@circleofliferediscovery.com

01273 814226

 

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

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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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.

International Day Of Happiness

On International Day Of Happiness we celebrate….

Celebrating on International Day Of Happiness!

 

A year ago today we launched The Woodland Project campaign to gain valuable funding from The National Lottery. Nine months on, after winning the funds, we are pleased to let you know on International Day Of Happiness, how the Project has been going and what we have achieved!

 

 

What makes us happy…

Since July 2018, the funding has enabled us to run the following days:

  • 13 FISS Family Days
  • 4 CAMHS Family Days
  • 3 Staff Training Days
  • 10 Parent Taster Days
  • 9 Teenage Woodland Days
  • 1 Teenage Woodland Camp
  • 1 Celebration Day

Support The Woodland Project on International Day Of Happiness

 

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.

 

 

What would make us really happy

The Woodland Project is 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. We desperately need continuous funding to support the future of the project! If you are able to donate, please do so by the link below and please share!

“In the woods my son is calm and happy. We look forward to coming to the woods because he can be himself in a safe environment. I can be his parent, rather than just his carer.”

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.” 

“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.”

 

Circle of Life Rediscovery

As well as funded programmes, Circle of Life Rediscovery offers unique nature-based experiences across East Sussex. These included bespoke camps for schools, forest school sessions and enrichment days. Plus CPD’s, in-house training and forest school training for adults.