Forest School goes Down Under!
An exciting new training project on the other side of the world will see a team of FSLI trainers introducing ForestSchool to early years practitioners, family centre workers and primary school teachers in Queensland,Australia.
In October, Chris Dee, Tracy Betley and Robbie Dee will be training a new generation of Forest School leaders in and around Brisbane as part of Nature Play QLD’s mission to increase the time Queensland children spend in unstructured play outdoors and in nature.
Chris commented: “Many of the issues in Queensland are similar to those in the UK: children and families aren’t engaging with the outdoors and natural environment, there are issues of childhood obesity through diet and lifestyle choices, children spend a large amount of time in front of screens and digital devices, and there are simply too few opportunities for playing and exploring outdoors freely - something that we, like Nature Play QLD, believe is fundamental to a full and healthy childhood.”
Forest School takes a long-term holistic approach with an emphasis on child-led learning that builds confidence, self esteem and independence through small achievable tasks. As such, it’s a brand new concept to Queensland and the team has had to adapt the training, as Chris explains:
“The project has been many months in the planning, so that our training is tailored to support the Australian early years learning framework and primary curriculum: the curriculum is fantastically child-focused, which is a great start. We’ve also had to think about a different natural environment to the UK– poisonous spiders being one health and safety issue, for example, and fire legislation being another! So we’ve been researching flora and fauna, thinking about ecological structures, such as bushland and eucalyptus forests, with a view to helping our Australian students to manage the areas they use for Forest School. We’ll be developing a photographic resource of plants and animals to demonstrate to students how they could do a similar thing in their areas to help their children learn.”
Cultural differences are also vitally important to understand, as Chris said: “We will be in Queensland well before the training starts in October, in order to connect with kindergarten and primary school managers and also, importantly, connect with Australian indigenous leaders to further customise our training.”
“The opportunity to deliver Forest school training and ethos to students in Australia is amazing – it really builds on our experience delivering training in Shanghai- and we are delighted by our new and very positive partnership with Nature Play QLD.
Photos: One-day awareness sessions are spreading the Forest School message in the run up to the Leadership training in October 2016