Forest school ethos
Forest school is about children connecting with nature. We are all born with a natural link to Mother Earth, this is often lost and broken in the hectic modern world of technology and high pressure lifestyle. We believe maintaining this link is vital for mental and physical health, and a focus on this in childhood pays dividends throughout their life.
What we learn
The children engage with nature in their own unique way whilst having the opportunity to learn skills along the way. Some skills are physical, like whittling and fire making whilst some skills are intellectual, like learning about animals and plants. There is emotional growth through building a community and leading meetings and of course there is creativity through art in nature.
Above all, its about inclusivity and not exclusivity by understanding everyone's right to autonomy and individuality.
The morning meeting
The meeting starts with the daily plan, what each child is thinking of accomplishing that day (this brings the focus in to the present but is not always followed up on and is not enforced). Plans are about things to do in the future sessions as a group or what an individual would like to accomplish, this can turn into a group projects or a group of children doing the same project individually. The next part of the meeting is discussing problems, whether personally, in relationship and as a group and
The morning meeting is a vital part of the day, it's about trust and a reinforcing of the common link within the community. On an individual basis it allows uniqueness to be known, confidence in self, patience and acceptance of that in others. The children take turns running the meeting, this brings a whole separate set of skills including being heard, fairness, learning to take charge and confidence to speak out. Use of a talking stick and hand signs indicate agreement and disagreement, joining the conversation and starting a new discussion. Like between adults, dialogue with space and consideration works as a perfect platform for learning and cooperation in the deepest sense of the word.
together we chase down a resolution to it. The final part of the meeting is anything else, often the most powerful as it involves worries, experiences and ideas within the community. In the past the groups have discussed death, life, monsters and other great topics. The Forest School Leader tends to be in the background for most of the meeting.
Skills on offer
Here is a list of skills that are on offer for children to learn. Within each skill are various grades of difficulty
Fire skill (using a flint and steel grades)
Different fire laying techniques
Whittling and Carving
Safe Woods for eating implements
Nature recognition/knowledge (Trees/Wildlife)
Making art with natural resources
Safety and risk assessment
Forest School Leader
Mike is a level three Forest School Leader. He and his wife started a Democratic School in West Norwood, South West London, which they managed for two years prior to coming to Portugal. He has wide teaching experience from working with Criminalised Youth and teaching in prisons to teaching children with educational challenges. He has a background in film-directing and prop making in the art department as well as making jewellery and making lights from old aeroplane bits and old parts of scientific instruments. Mike believes in helping children on their learning journey, without leading it or detracting from their autonomy, to create their own vision.