How we learn at Little Forest Folk
We have proven from our experiences at Little Forest Folk the immense potential for learning in a child-led and play-based natural outdoor setting.
As Yeats said, education is not the filling of a pail, it's the lighting of a fire. Our role as educators is not to teach – our children are wonderful and capable little people – what we need to do is to help them learn. As educators, we have a deep understanding of our children. We know what makes them tick, what excites them, where they excel and where they need a bit of guidance. With encouragement, role modelling, suggestions and props we can take their fun and exciting play in the forest and transform it into deep learning opportunities.
Similarly to most other Early Years settings in the UK, we adhere to the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage). We understand the great importance not only within the three prime areas of development (Physical Development, Personal, Social and Emotional Development and Communication and Language) but also within the four sub prime areas (Understanding the World, Arts and Creativity, Literacy and Maths). We ensure that every day each child has the opportunity to practise learning within all seven areas of the EYFS, in addition to a few supplementary areas we like to focus on.
Very sadly, our children do not remain with us forever. They leave us at age five and take the big step into big girl/big boy school and our role is to ensure they are ready for this. 'School readiness' is a term regularly banded about that has very varied connotations. To us, school readiness means being a confident, independent, self-motivated, curious, resilient and enthusiastic little learner. It means having an empathetic character and understanding the importance of kindness. It means knowing that failure is merely an opportunity to try again. If we can send children out into the big world equipped with these crucial life skills then we are very happy indeed.
MOVEMENT IN THE FOREST
Movement is crucial for physical development. In the forest we are constantly running, climbing, jumping, hopping, slithering, balancing and swinging.
FRIENDS IN THE FOREST
Early years play in the forest is a naturally collaborative and incredibly social experience. We create together. We talk together. We encourage and support one another. And we have fun together!
EXPLORATION IN THE FOREST
Allow children to play. Let them explore. Let them discover the world around them and learn an inner confidence from gaining a deep knowledge and understanding of the world. Show them the faith and confidence as an educator that you have in their ability and watch them flourish.
MINDFULNESS IN THE FOREST
We encourage our children to regularly reflect. Through our reflective sessions, we as educators learn more about the children's feelings and desires, whilst the children themselves take time to consider their days. Reflecting upon our play leads us to reflecting upon our emotions....one step at a time we endeavour to practise mindfulness with our children. In today's busy and hectic world having the ability and patience to reflect and to be grounded in the present is a fantastic tool for life.
ReCORDING YOUR CHILD's LEARNING
When your child enrols at Little Forest Folk we create an online learning journal for them. We use Tapestry software; an encrypted and very secure server accessed by a personal password for each child. Our educators use Tapestry to record photos, videos and general observations about your child's learning and development. As part of our observation and assessment, we link your child's development to the Development Matters document so you can easily see where your child is developing according to their age bracket. In addition to your child's development, we are very interested in monitoring their wellbeing so we regularly record the children on the Leuven Scale of Active Engagement and Learning, which includes a scale for using body language signals to judge wellbeing.
As parents ourselves, we know how much you still want to be connected to your child even when they are away from you. That's why every day our educators take a photo of your child in the forest and upload it to the secure server on Tapestry. On days when it's pouring down with rain it's fantastic to send photos of beaming children jumping in puddles! Our daily snaps aren't posed because we really want parents to get an insight into their child's day by seeing what play they are engaged in. This photo can then be a fantastic trigger when your child arrives home to encourage them to talk about their day. We consistently receive feedback from parents telling us they love receiving their daily snaps! We also encourage families to upload photos and observations about your home life and holidays as it helps us work in partnership to build a bigger picture of our fabulous children.
Being passionate supporters of preserving nature, we are trying to eliminate the use of paperwork as much as possible. Every day, once your children have checked out and headed home you will receive an email which details the minutiae of the day such as nappies, sleeps and eating. This then frees us up at handover to talk about the more fun aspects of your child's day such as where they've been playing!
EDUCATORS IN THE FOREST
Our educators are the best in the world.