Stefan was excited learning about slugs and being outdoors
STEFAN is six, and knee high to a grasshopper. He was bouncing around because he had learned what slugs eggs were and he had discovered a wood lice community under some bark and ... he hadn’t been told off once during the morning!
It was the first morning of Forest Schools at Denham Village Infant School and the children were beginning to discover how empowered they are as learners in the outdoors.
I visited for a short while and was assaulted by various combinations of children who wanted to show me the washing line they had put up which was populated with gardening gloves, a group of boys who had built a washing-up station and by children who had found various millipedes, centipedes and spiders.
It was about 11.30am and the children had been in our nature area since 9.20am and their enthusiasm was showing no signs of abating. The supervising adults were slightly bemused – and worried they were not working hard enough. I reassured them as best I could.
Anyway, back to Stefan. He may not be the most academically gifted of boys and life at home can be tough sometimes but on this morning he had been at his very best.
He could explore, discover and most of all – succeed! And he did so because the following day he couldn’t wait to race into school and tell us how the slug eggs he had discovered the previous day also inhabited parts of his garden at home.
Forest Schools will be an integral part of the curriculum here from now on and some of our children will be lucky enough to experience it for three years.
I cannot wait to experience how self-confident these learners will be at the end of this process.
This is the way it works; and if we reflect hard enough about how we learned the things that really matter to us and make us who we are in our families and communities and friendships, we will realise that it wasn’t by being trapped behind a desk learning grammar by rote at the age of six.
Nick Andrews is headeacher at Denham Village Infants school firstname.lastname@example.org.