Progress of a child through Forest School - three examples
This case study was given to FSLI Director, Chris Dee earlier this week and provides three great examples of how a child can progress through Forest School...
Over the first few sessions, this child behaved much like they did in the classroom. They chose an activity to complete and wanted very much to complete these activities alone. They would never speak up in sessions and would use her friend to ask questions on her behalf.
In session four, something very exciting happened that astounded the adult who was working with her. Child A walked over to the adult, took their hand and walked them over to the place where they were working. They showed the adult a bug home which they had made and described what it was. The adult just listened and then suggested that the child show their friend how it was made and give them tips to make their own. Soon, this child had a large crowd and became a bug-home mentor. They looked at other children’s bug homes and helped them. This was a remarkable event for this child and we were all so proud of her. She was so pleased that everyone was impressed with her that she felt confident enough to teach others. In class however, nothing changed.
Session 5 and 6 were more of the same for Child A. While happier to speak to others more, it clearly made her uncomfortable and they preferred to work alone which everyone accepted.
Forest School allowed Child A to make remarkable progress and obviously helped them to increase their confidence. While we didn’t see this repeated in the last two sessions, it made me realise that Child A has potential to speak and teach others when she is ready. I have realised also that I need to make sure this child has enough opportunity to speak up if they wish to by asking her and picking up on cues.
Immediately as we begun Forest School I saw a positive change in this child. They remained focussed throughout the whole session and were able to succeed multiple times, lapping up the admiration of others. This had never happened in the classroom where they struggled with reading and writing. It was fantastic to see this child confident and able to express his feeling towards Forest School saying, ‘I love it, I love it’.
In the second session, Child B came into school that morning and told me he had seen something on YouTube that he wanted to try that afternoon and could I add it to the session schedule. Of course I agreed and couldn’t believe that a child who would never come and speak to me, was there asking me a question. When we arrived at Forest School, this child showed the class what he had learned. He stripped the bark found on the floor and twisted it in hands, making string. It was incredible to see them become a teacher.
Over the next session, this child carried on excelling in Forest School, making himself Forest School belts, pencils, crown and ladders. It has been a pleasure to see the change in this child and if fact, one of our helpers didn’t even realise they had SEN.
Watching them like this made me realise that I was not providing this child with enough opportunities to shine in the classroom and that I was not playing to their strengths. I begun to adapt my lessons to make sure Child B was given more practical help and activities which allowed them to enjoy lessons more and get more out of them.
As soon as we started Forest School, this child made a conscious effort to work as a team as they knew they needed help from others to make the best den or to make the best bug home. This was progress in itself. They realised they were not as talented as they were in the classroom and used their friends for help. This realisation made them a lot less boastful overall and they became much less likely to point out how amazing they were, rather saying how amazing everyone was – what a change in attitude! Secondly, in session five, I saw this child asking help from Child B. This would be unheard of in the classroom so it was so special to catch it.
This child began to realise that people have skills in different areas and she grew to respect others for their own skills and talents.
Overall, Forest School has benefitted all the children we observed in different ways. Even more exciting is that we saw these changes taken into the classroom.