Thursday, 21 October 2010

How does it feel to jump over the jaws of a crocodile?

This post was originally posted on my website on 3rd March 2010, but I moved over here to be with my other thoughts.

Kindling delivered a training day with a wonderful enthusiastic group of Early years practitioners on Monday. To end the session we talked about  how being outdoors makes us feel. We had been in the woods for most of the day and I asked them, based on the emotions and feelings they had had whilst they had been busy, and immersed in all sorts of creative and wonderful explorations what benefits they thought that similar experiences would have for the children they work with.

They individually wrote down all their reflections and then we clustered them together to see what similar themes came up, " a real confidence booster" came up first and then loads of similar reflections were added. Then linked themes started to emerge, “building self-esteem” one person added everyone agreed adding more similar thoughts that they had had. The next phrases that were added built on the idea “Self belief”, “successful”, “overcome fears”, “gain real sense of achievement” “proud to learn new skills”.

               This log was renamed 'the crocodile' thanks to
a bus driver who let the nervous kids off the bus
into the woods for the first time
and called after them
"watch out for the crocodile!"
  Thanks for that!
Luckily we discovered we could jump it's jaws.
I was interested when everyone’s sense of what they had got out of the session was mirrored by what children say they got out of similar experiences. The following day I was with a  group of children of mixed ages from the Speech and Language unit of a school. I asked them before we went into the woods to think about how being there made them feel.

 We had been looking in the snow and recording signs of spring in the woods, at the end I asked them again how they felt in the woods. The first child said “happy”, someone else said “cold”, “well I felt hot” said another, “I felt proud today” one child said. It was like opening a flood gate of agreement, “I was proud too”, “I was proud and happy” “I’m proud and happy and excited”.....

The way they latched onto the word ‘proud’ was interesting, they didn’t have the vocabulary to talk about self belief and self esteem in the way the group of practitioners had. But their faces said the same thing.  

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