Forest School is an inspirational process that offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment.
Wildwood Days CIC has been organically developed by two educators and mothers (Liz and Bea) who love being outside with their children. It started as themed walks that were designed to encourage children to go a little bit further, enjoy being outdoors in nature and explore something magical. A few years later all those ideas and many more had a home – Wildwood Days.
When planning all our sessions we think about how a child might see things, how children as a group may wish to explore and, for our family events, how a whole family can enjoy being outside together. We work hard to bring a sense of community, welcome and little bit of magic, wonder and joy to some simple outdoor activities.
We encourage self-directed play and exploration. We support curiosity, risk taking and imagination. We help explore sense of self, community and responsibility.
Like the woodland around us, we are undergoing constant change and development. So we are continually evaluating what we do. We want to grow and improve but not lose our most precious qualities, the ones that make our little gatherings special. These findings are used to inform our practice, determine our planning and improve future sessions.
Wildwood Days aims to provide people of all ages the opportunity to grow and develop as nature intended; at their own pace, directed by their own interests and outside in the changing seasons. We feel the breadth of learning and developmental opportunities and possibilities are endless outside and the environment naturally encourages calm and concentration. We work to provide a welcoming, caring environment which supports our visitors’ needs.
At Wildwood Days this ethos is evident in the following principles:
Continuity: Part of our site is used as a base camp and includes several features which act as an introduction to Forest School. There is a simple mud kitchen, a den, a fairy tree and garden and a mini fairy village, a mud pit (with bucket of trowels, forks and watering cans), muddy slopes, tunnel, weaving wall, dinosaur hill, pulley bucket, rope swing, sand pit and logs and stumps to sit and balance on. These facilities are introduced gradually and explored through starter activities, then revisited as determined by the learners. This continuity helps to support learners in settling into their environment and to the rhythm of the sessions.
Right to Return: Wherever possible, our sessions include plenty of time for free play – giving learners the opportunity to return to a particular activity or resource that they have enjoyed. We aim to give learners as much time as they need to finish their learning in a particular area.
Challenge and Differentiation: All sessions at Wildwood Days are planned to encourage engagement and enjoyment for a range of abilities and ages. Choice over details, opportunity to either keep it simple or complete a more complex outcome, a range of different learning types and needs are considered and activities are planned with an awareness of learning schemas, developmental stages, EYFS and Curriculum Key Stages.
Tool Use, Fire and Risk Taking: Through the use of carefully thought out health and safety procedures we work to prepare participants of all ages to enjoy the benefits of supported risk taking. We facilitate the development of self esteem and confidence through providing opportunities to challenge, learn risk management skills and experience something new and exciting that is linked very closely to the natural world around us.
Reflective Practitioners: After each session we reflect on how we can improve and what our visitors may need in future sessions.