Wild magic in the woods

Growing in mind and bodyIMG_4730

The Woodland Adventurers spent an enchanting, rather magical morning in the woods this week. Julia, the forest school practitioner, led the children to a cool, far-off Gruffalo Pool, nicely sheltered from the warm sun, deep and cosy in Froggatt Wood.

The children did fantastically well, walking further than they’ve ever walked before with ease, even on tricky ground with large stone boulders for little feet to negotiate along the path.

This is testament to their growing, more confident little bodies, both physically and emotionally. The clement weather also helped, enabling the children to stay outdoors with few clothes to encumber them, for longer than in cold or wet weather. Most of the children are progressing to Forest School in September. Again, this session indicates how ready they will be for this move and how smooth a transition it is likely to prove, after so many sessions in the woods in preparation.

The Gruffalo Pool Continue reading Wild magic in the woods

Talking to Myself; Dear pre-parenthood me

Welcome to the June 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Talking to Yourself

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written letters to themselves. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Dear Pre-Parenthood me,

Below is some helpful advice about what is in store for you in the first five years of parenthood. It will serve you well as you enter the most exciting, rewarding, challenging and beautiful journey you are ever likely to make in this lifetime;

believe in the power of yourself as a strong woman and mother. You are doing the most amazing job anyone could ever do, raising the next generation. You know being a stay at home mum when your children are young is right for you, regardless of its status in our society. Be proud and stand tall.

trust your intuition when you are birthing your first-born son. Demand the right to be both active and left alone in labour, to be monitored safely from a distance. Be strong and proud even when this birth goes terribly wrong, far from how you envisaged it. Write and talk as a form of therapy to help you mourn the loss of a natural birth. Believe that next time around you are capable of birthing naturally, because you are. You achieve this almost three years later, your daughter born naturally at home. By becoming in-tune with all mothers, spanning the millennia, you trust in your body’s ability to birth, blocking all non-constructive chatter from reaching your ears. This will only contaminate you. Congratulate yourself in this second birth, for you have proved that you could do it, your inner strength won. You know you are capable of doing so again, if you so wish.

mother through breastfeeding. Nothing could be simpler, but more challenging at first in our culture. Be a confident, open, proud nurser who has the strength to develop her own nursing style, feed in public with your head held high, whilst gathering experienced, full-term nursers around you. Join and attend La Leche mother-to-mother breastfeeding support. Rise above your cultures bottle-feeding culture. Advocate and normalise breastfeeding. You will have nursed every single day by the time your first-born is five years old, with no end in sight. Nursing is a way of life for you and your children. Let it remain that way as long as this feels right for you all.

give time to your children. This may sound simple, but it can be difficult in our busy lives. Cultivate mindfulness in your actions, slowing down, stopping, getting on their level, empathising, listening, living in the moment, feeling the joy in that moment for what it is: yes I am smelling my daughter’s skin, I am walking with her in the sling in the woods, I am basking in my son’s smile, I am hearing him give me another long account about a building. It is true that our children grow so fast, too fast, so do not rush it, savour it. Life with your young children is fleeting and precious.

turn off or leave your phone and the internet behind once in awhile. Be vigilant about this. Stay connected to your children, not to the net. It is virtual, whilst your children are real.

give elimination communication a go, it will amaze, surprise and delight you. It will help put you further in tune with your daughter. Trust you are able to read her signs and that she is able to communicate to you. By the time she is eighteen months old, she is dry day and night. Continue reading Talking to Myself; Dear pre-parenthood me

Wood Skills Day

I returned to Leam Woods for a CPD (Continuing Professional Development) Wood Skills Day on June 6th, organised by Sarah Blackwell. This was very helpful as I embark on the consolidation element of my Level Three Forest School training.

I returned a little apprehensive, wondering if anyone would be there from my course and also if everyone would have more to share than I. However, I felt instantly at ease once I’d stepped into the woods and felt the positive, supportive vibe the other twenty or so students were giving me. Only one other student from my course was present, but I felt all the other students were on a similar wave length. I soon remembered the ethos of Forest School and what I’d learnt on the course, that we learn when we feel comfortable, in small, achievable steps.

After a short fire circle introduction, we were free to learn and do as we pleased for the next five hours. Yet five hours wasn’t long enough, we needed all day, a whole weekend, with the skills people were offering and the activities available. Which is why another skills day is to be organised soon. Fun was had by all as we learnt and chatted and tried new activities, whilst being fed hot cups of tea by those using the Kelly Kettle. Continue reading Wood Skills Day

Gratitude for free play in the woods

Return after the holidays

What a great start back after the summer half-term break, with the sun shining and nine eager children ready to return to the woods again. Summer is certainly in the air; the woods feel alive with lush new life and greenery. The children also benefit from longer sessions in the woods because of the milder weather, with bug spray and sun-cream at the ready!

Splashing in the stream
Splashing in the stream

We were also fortunate to have a new Forest School Practitioner with us today, Fay Ingleby, joined by her three-year-old son, who attends Forest School on Fridays. Fay has recently set-up Forest Children Kindergarten in Ashbourne, see her website here. Fay’s enthusiasm was infectious, as the children ran through the field to the oak tree, the somewhat chubbier lambs surprised by this sudden invasion of very small children! Fun was had by all at the stream, with the mandatory poo sticks being thrown, as well as much splashing and mirth in the shallow water. Continue reading Gratitude for free play in the woods

Forest School Level Three Training Course

Forest School Practitioner training course

I have recently returned from an inspiring and intensive week on a Forest School Level Three Practitioner Training Course, run by Forest School Education (FSE) based at Whiteley Woods Outdoor Activity Centre,  as well as time in Leam Woods in Grindleford. I attended the course from May 11th to 15th 2015.

It was jam-packed with guidance, advice and information about how to be a Forest School (FS) leader. I spent a fabulous week with some amazing students, as well as a trainer, Dave, and assessor, Steve, both of whom are talented, enthusiastic and motivational people who I learnt a lot from. They were excellent role models for how to interact with clients, be they children or adult learners, in the outdoor environment. The week was a breath of fresh air, both literally, as the course was outdoor based, in mainly glorious spring sunshine, and figuratively, as they have teaching skills I’ve rarely seen. Continue reading Forest School Level Three Training Course