An emphasis on the unique beauty of each season is a focus at Michaelchurch Escley pre-school: in Spring we watch the buds unfurling and learn about our own growth, in Summer we watch the flowers thrive and press flowers and leaves and notice patterns and colours, in Autumn we play in the golden leaves and make homes for hibernating creatures, in Winter we gather and saw wood and clear pathways, we listen to stories around the fire and make food for ourselves and the hungry birds.
Each week we run our forest school day in a familiar rhythm so the children can relax in the knowledge they know what comes next. We usually begin with greetings and free play and sometimes a song or two. Then we go on our ‘adventure’ down to the river and the woodland taking a picnic rug for our snack and a basket to gather firewood or blackberries or other treasures.
We get back to the hall in time for lunch. Then a quiet story time follows, usually inside in winter, then we go to the Spinney often to light a fire and watch the flames or cook popcorn or marshmallows and maybe hear and tell stories. We make mud soups in the mud kitchen and often make a simple craft or learn about the many plants and creatures with whom we share the Spinney.
The opportunities offered build on motivation, positive attitudes and personal interests. The sessions also encourage co-operation and relationship building appropriate to the age of the children. This leads to the development of clear communication and emotional intelligence (how one uses emotions in solving problems). For me it is also a time to be truly present with the children and meet their innate wonder in the world around them with respect and inner quiet.
In short all children benefit from outdoor play that allows them to be active and self-directed. Outdoor play means the children can learn by touching, feeling, seeing, smelling, hearing and responding emotionally. It is a multi sensory experience that helps support healthy development and well being and lays important foundations for future learning.