Blog

Change

Hello folks,

Apologies for my absence. If I go quiet it is generally down to one (or both) of 2 things; I am busy doing what I write about or I can’t talk about what I’m doing just yet!

So the news is out, the notice period has been worked & thoroughly emotional! A new adventure beckons.

I remember feeling like spring was bringing forth big change this year, in fact on reflection I wrote about it in my last post. I too will be changing my job, home and country!

As you can imagine it’s bedlam trying to get everything ready and sorted to move a family 500 miles away…or indeed you might say ‘a bit of a Stramash’

So until I have time to sit and update you properly, have a little look at my new workmates, the Superhero’s of the future.

Spring Musings

I don’t mind winter; I like the frosty cold days and the heavy snowy skies. ‘The rain never bothered me anyway’ is a version of Frozen more suited to the UK climate & one I could fully support!

Afternoon all,

I had written a blog all about pricing, about setting your session rates and what you might need to consider. I’ve had a lot of emails in through the site asking for this kind of advice so thought it would be a helpful piece to have here.

Sadly I’m a contrary so and so and don’t feel like talking finance so that one is shelved for another time.

Instead of that well thought out, helpful, edited & precision piece of writing, what you’ll probably get is more stream of consciousness ramblings; I’m in a thoughtful mood. Best strap in!

Imbolc has just passed and signs of spring are everywhere. My site is awash with snowdrops and the promise of baby sheep & cows (yes, I know they have proper names!) any day now. I don’t mind winter; I like the frosty cold days and the heavy snowy skies. ‘The rain never bothered me anyway’ is a version of Frozen more suited to the UK climate & one I could fully support!

Yet when the days start lengthening and warming a little and the starkness of bare branches give way to buds there is a part of my heart that does remember the positivity of it all, the looking forward, a ‘waking up’.

We watched a BBC doc on a year in the Lake District last night. Aside from being stunningly beautiful it interested me that the ‘year’ ran from April (1st Herdwick lambs being born) to December (Christmas) – presumably the Lake District also observe Jan/Feb/March? It was an honest representation of a zeitgeist – the months reserved for slowing down, looking in, preparing for the year ahead – a pregnancy (literally and metaphorically).

There are changes afoot in our industry too. The FSA has made some much requested adjustments to its membership system allowing those delivering the high quality, ethos centric, principle following Forest School to be recognised. There is a new Chair Person – Lily Horseman, a considered, thoughtful and inspiring practitioner. Lily’s ‘Quality Forest School For All’ mantra seems to be the ‘signs of spring’ we have been looking for as an organisation – although as she is in Cumbria, if the BBC are to be believed she may only be available April-December 😉

February half term marks the beginning of our regular sessions returning. The new Fairy House Trail (installed in the wider Arboretum which our Forest School calls home) has encouraged families back out into the world after their winter hibernation. Lured out by the promise of magic and wonder…and possibly afternoon tea!

New Year is said to be from Jan 1st, but I’m with the Lakes on this one! A new day starts not at 00:01 but from whenever I wake up.  The world has seemed a pretty dark place of late; it would be easy to lose heart in the dark night of the soul we have been facing. But a tree doesn’t fear the losing of its leaves in autumn, the sap will rise, new leaves will close the canopy once again. Good humans doing good things abound and that includes us as Forest Schoolers.

Time to wake up, Spring is coming.

Sharps & Tools – Cutting straight to the point

People see danger, where in reality there is true opportunity; building responsibility, a sense of achievement, developing concentration, self esteem and independent risk assessment.

 

A couple of weeks ago I attended a CPD (Career/Professional Development) day on sharps safety and skills. It is a cornerstone of our responsibility as forest school practitioners to continue to improve our skill set & deepen our own knowledge and understanding, as well as gaining new ideas to keep our delivery fresh and engaging. These days also give us the opportunity to meet & work with other practitioners & share ideas and thoughts about our own practice and our industry as a whole.

All good stuff.

I have delivered more tools based stuff in Forest School since visiting Ed at Free Rangers nursery near Bath last year. It’s a pretty idyllic setting and so inspiring to work with children who have such a firm grasp of the safe use and opportunity of competent tool work. I (like many newly qualified practitioners) was nervous about integrating tool work into such a young group, working with Ed really gave me the confidence to start scaffolding my own learning & confidence, to then begin building this with my groups.

As I mostly work with the early years age group there is quite a large developmental range in terms of capability within my group. I have found that for many, the opportunity to learn through play & get dirty in an inspiring and engaging play space is ‘enough’. However those who have been coming to me for some time or are at the upper end of the age range are looking for more challenge.

These children have been attending forest school for some time & I have been able to scaffold their learning to develop both the physical capability and also their safety awareness to be able to use tools in an appropriate way. I have spent entire sessions with children who just wanted to split wood, creating kindling for fires to keep their friends warm or to feed a Kelly kettle for hot chocolate.

I am reminded of the Scandinavian Kindergartens, where many children have their own pocket knifes and experience childhood within a society where responsible ownership of such an object is a part of ‘growing up’.

And yet people still flinch when they see pictures of children holding a knife, using an axe or with a saw in hand…

People see danger, where in reality there is true opportunity; building responsibility, a sense of achievement, developing concentration, self esteem and independent risk assessment.  Yes these tools deserve respect, yes they need to be used in a safe and responsible way but so do kitchen knives!

We have become so removed from our self reliant heritage. Knife crime is discussed in schools while knife skills are not. I believe children should be given the opportunity at a young age to learn how to use and respect these tools for their right purpose at an early age.

One thing I experienced first hand during my training day was how immersive tool work is. Whittling and sculpting wood, watching the humble stick become a whistle, a ‘chunk of wood’ become a delicate flower. There is a sense of craftsmanship, a reconnecting with a more primal part of our ancestry where we made things by hand rather than buying them, mass produced. Beautiful and unique things created from humble and ordinary beginnings.

So however ‘imperfect’ the results, the time spent making it, immersed in an activity (immersion lowers our heart rate, our blood pressure & makes us feel good) has been the true gift. Why would we deny our children that same opportunity?

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PK Talk – Permission to Play

So whether it’s a website, or a PK talk, or a conversation with someone at a bus stop we are the representatives of an incredible concept; that is pretty cool.

Hello!

Firstly I must send out an enormous Thank You for the wonderful reception this site has received in the short time since it went live.

I am genuinely thrilled beyond measure by the people who have already contacted me via the site and social media to let me know that you like it. I really appreciate you taking the time to let me know you’re out there!

I have said that one of my ‘hopes’ for this site is about spreading the Forest School message. Getting what we do out there to a wider audience, taking time to explain and make it relevant to their lives and their experience.

9 months ago I got chance to speak at the Flatpack film festival in Birmingham. The  ‘theme’ was film, the audience all adults – now we know as practitioners we sometimes have to get creative, so I decided there was definitely still an opportunity to talk about Forest School and Play!

Below is the result.

I was desperately nervous having done zero public speaking before & the sound quality isn’t amazing. I ‘um’ a bit and lose my words at one point (which still makes me cringe!) But no-one in that room knew about forest school before…and now they do.

So whether it’s a website, or a PK talk or a conversation with someone at a bus stop, we are the representatives of an incredible concept;  that is pretty cool. Go talk to someone who doesn’t know what Forest School is, get through awkward, forge through fear of ‘getting it wrong’ and remember we carry with us something so precious and so special that the odd ‘Um’ or typo does not distract from the message.

Be brave, your tribe is with you!

 

Diving in

I hope that it goes some way to furthering the forest school message and that it becomes a useful resource for my fellow practitioners or trainees.

Here it is, my 1st blog post.

Well technically its my 100th blog post as writing them (mostly for other people) was my job before forest school.

But this is a special one because it is the first on forestschooljess.co.uk and this website means a lot to me. I hope that it goes some way to furthering the forest school message and that it becomes a useful resource for my fellow practitioners or trainees.

I’ve spent a lot of time marketing and communicating for other people, compromising my own voice in an effort to best represent theirs. I love the ability to do that and do it well, I like establishing a clear brand message and delivering. It makes writing pieces to ‘fit’ much easier, but I miss being able to form my own thoughts and opinions.

However the idea of them becoming public makes me think of the above image; being on the edge, vulnerable, open to a torrent all set to carry me away. Then I remember how I felt in the moment that picture was taken; calm, intrigued, present, noticing the bubbles, textures and wonder of nature.

So I had a ‘warm up’ run at it and I didn’t get swept away.

You might have caught my guest post on Forest Schooled – a fantastic forest school blog

Click the link below if you want to check it out

Guest Blog – Forest Schooled

See you again soon

Big Love

Jess x