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Forest School connects with nature at Shailer Park

Goodstart centres

It’s a Monday morning in Brisbane and the rain has finally come. After months of hot, sunny and humid weather, the city has had a weekend drenching.

And while many people caring for children would choose to keep them inside until the weather clears up, the educators at Goodstart Shailer Park have different ideas.

With their first day of Forest School planned for last month, the educators decided to continue on, taking 10 kindergarten children to Daisy Hill State Forest for a morning of fun and adventure.

“We had talked about what we would do if it rained during our Forest School program and we decided we would go regardless of the weather,” centre director Kristy Morgan said.

“Dealing with the weather is all part of being outside and exploring and we used discussions about the weather as a learning focus.”

Kristy has been studying to gain her Forest School Leader certificate through Forest School Learning Initiative and Nature Play Queensland. Forest School Learning Initiative is a UK-based organisation which has teamed up with Nature Play Queensland for a second year, enabling more practitioners to lead the sessions in Australia.

The course teaches educators to understand the ethos and practice of the Forest School program, about children’s brain development, how to plan and evaluate sessions and how to introduce risk management and health and safety policies.

Goodstart Shailer Park will hold Forest School sessions every Monday, featuring free play, tool use, fire lighting, cooking and just being outdoors.

Kristy said it was a delight to watch the children play in outdoor environments.

“I believe that the natural environment is a true teacher of children. By playing in the natural environment, children learn to plan and problem-solve,” Kristy said.

“I also believe that we are part of an exciting world movement and we hope to continue to inspire families and the community to join in and most importantly to get outside.”

“And our people are being inspired and learning new things. We are providing opportunities to be at the centre in unhurried and relaxed ways. Children at the centre are not tied down to times and schedules. They can immerse themselves in play for extended periods without interruption.”

The children saw wallabies and kookaburras during their first visit to Daisy Hill and spent time collecting sticks. Next week they will focus on den and cubby house building.

Forest School Learning Initiative has trained more than 2000 Forest School Leaders since 2000. The courses are aimed at early childhood and primary school educators.
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