Last month, whilst back home in Scotland, I heard about a primary teacher from Peebles who was running forest school classes. I was intrigued how she was able to incorporate such classes into the school curriculum and wanted to learn more. Here is my short interview I had with the wonderful and inspiring Annie Edgar. (Later in the week, I was fortunate to visit the forest where Annie holds the classes. I took my niece and nephews with me. We had the most magical time and didn't want to leave).
Our spirits soared as we wandered through the beautiful forest, each pathway gifting wonder and awe. We were graced with the presence of a deer. The sheer joy of seeing a deer in the wild is one of those magical moments you never forget as a child or an adult.
Interview with Annie Edgar - LEARNING OUTDOORS
1. Why did you start up the "forest school"?
To introduce more outdoor learning, to provide a more balanced curriculum: social, emotional and physical development of a child.
My love for the outdoors and nature also played a big part in it, the importance in knowing, understanding and respecting the world that you live in, to encourage a responsible attitude towards the environment and sustainability for the future.
Once I started my training I started taking my class out. This was arranged through agreement with the head teacher and the course itself was well supported by the council that I work for.
No problems arranging with school or class, some difficulty in getting parent support to ensure adult:child ratio was met. Mainly due to FS (Forest School) sessions being through school time when most parents are at work. But managed to get help most weeks.
Intensity of course - over 20 essays, compiling health and safety handbook, observation reports and extensive reading on child development and emotional intelligence along with several full weekends of outdoor and first aid training made the course very demanding. On top of day to day school work and preparation I found this quite stressful at times. However, I have learned a huge amount from this course and the benefits are now paying off.
We tasted the most delicious wild Blackberries in the forest.
Also provides the children with a bank of experiences that they can use when back in school to help with their literacy and numeracy e.g. in writing they can describe a forest setting by thinking about what they have seen, heard, tasted, felt in FS. And in maths they have a greater awareness of size for estimating length, height etc.
"When Children and Nature Mix, Something Magical Happens" .
I have been running nature classes for the last three years here in Kelowna, BC and I must say I love teaching outdoors. I am really excited about the possibilities of outdoor learning. It is so encouraging to hear about inspiring individuals like Annie. Please do get in touch if you would like to share your ideas and plans for nature in and out of the classroom. I'd love to hear from you. Over the past few months I have visited many schools and spoken with both the teachers and the students. It is very clear the children LOVE to learn and play outdoors and listening to the teachers, they too, are interested in learning about ways they can connect children with nature as part of their teaching. Here are a couple of my school visits in British Columbia : Bringing Nature Into the Classroom and Connecting School Children With Nature.
Join the "Let's Go Outside" Revolution - Changing the way children spend their time.
More great reading and Scottish resources : Outdoor Learning Practical Guidance for Scottish Teachers provided by one of my #playoutdoors buddies on Twitter Juliet Robertson.
Wishing you all a beautiful week learning from nature, love and peace, Marghanita.