Sunday was an extraordinary day in the woods. We left the house without a real plan other than that the kids were in control. They would choose the way of the day. The sun was shining and we had all the time in the world. Very quickly Edgar spotted and identified some Hazel which he started to climb. He climbed amongst it for over 45mins, swinging and swaying, jumping and bouncing. He went up it and down it and across it and not once did I touch him or give instructions. I asked him a few questions and I trusted him and his instinct. A few times he slipped but he recovered. A few times he hung from up high wondering what to do but he quickly realised that he was more than capable of just letting go, dropping to the ground and being ok.
I was confident because I have let him do this slowly and carefully alone and at his own pace, since he was very young. By not helping him he has learnt much quicker what he is capable of doing and not and how his body moves and responds to the environment.
Iris watched for a good half an hour, just sat and watched and that was fine. After a while she decided she would try to climb the tree too. I didn't help her I let her go as far as she could and when she felt she could go no further she built a pretend fire in the "kitchen" area of their "tree house"
When they had had enough we moved on. To a stream, which they walked up and along and through for a long time.
We spent the whole day in the woods and in the end it was me that said we had to go home.
It was truly magical. Watching them play and explore and develop their skills.
Yesterday we went back to the woods after school. Edgar found the same Hazel tree himself and again spent some time climbing it and revisiting all the things he had learnt on Sunday.
Forest School is lots of things and you don't have to go to an actual 'forest school' to get the benefits. Take your kids to the woods and let THEM lead the way and as much as you can just step back and don't get involved. If they have the freedom to truly do things at their own pace it will make them stronger, more capable and more confident. Believe it or not they don't actually need you as much as you think they do.