Autumn brings us round to a new academic year and new thoughts about our outdoor learning sessions for home-educators.
Please read on to discover our aims for the group.
There are many wonderful ways that children learn outdoors and we would like to help your children engage with each of them. First there is the physical pleasure of moving about in a big space (compared to indoors) which helps build fitness, tone and coordination. Moving about underpins social and cognitive learning too, especially for younger children. Then there are inviting ways to collaborate with others, working and playing together with a lot of “loose parts” in great supply (no shortage of leaves and sticks for example means far less squabbling); and nature also helps us connect with ourselves and with the cycles of life. So there’s a big feel-good-factor from being outdoors. Then on top of all that, there are many wonderful things to learn about nature that take us into the realms of maths, science, arts and communication … and skills to develop! We can do all these through a bit of gardening in the orchard, looking after wildlife, foraging and eating, making things and telling stories.
These discoveries and learning moments happen so much more effectively when families can come out to sessions on a regular basis. So I’m hoping that where you can, you will make us part of your routine each week. (Of course families who drop in will be very welcome too!) Regular visits mean that your child is more likely to find things of interest from one session to the next and we can build on their thinking, letting them lead the way. To help this happen I will provide a bit of structure in the session: time to gather together, explore and discover, and express ideas in a Floor Book. Then a circle time to discuss anything we want with the help of my talking-listening stick, and maybe a song or a story to finish.
The Wednesday group seems to attract rather younger children (lots of 3 to 5 year olds, and even younger). I would like to open up the sessions to any family with a child at home. I wonder what you home-educators think of this?
Finally, we have run out of funds to offer any more free sessions! I am applying for more grants but these will cover only half the real costs – if I’m successful. So there has to be a charge to sessions from now on. These will be £3 per child over 3, and £1 for under 3s (free if they’re asleep!). This can be paid on the day, or in one block payment for the term (£30 per child over 3 … ). This will occasionally give you one or more free sessions as there are often 11-13 weeks in a term.
One more thing!
My friend and colleague Jenny Smitherman from Muddy Puddles Birmingham is going to start running occasional outdoor learning sessions on Sunday mornings 10-11am. If these are popular, they will also run weekly in the near future. You are welcome to come along to these too.