Saturday, 25 February 2012


"So, what makes you feel comfortable?"
This was the question I asked a group of seven to nine year olds this week. We were in the woods for the first session of our Forest School sessions and I wanted to help focus them on what they would be doing over the next few weeks. Their answers were the sort of this you would expect, sitting on the sofa, laying in bed, being wrapped up in a cozy blanket. We feel comfortable when we are doing things that are easy and we have done them before. But that isn't why children take part in Forest Schools.

Forest School programmes are about more than spending time in the woods and exploring. They are also about encouraging children's motivation and helping to develop positive attitudes, stretching the children and helping them realise their skills. These things just don't happen when you stay in your comfort zone.

Challenge: moving out of your comfort zone
 but still being able to function
This was how I explained to the group; we would be coming to the woods for Forest School and this is to challenge them, to try new things and for them to find out things they didn't know they could do. It is important for the children to be challenged but at the same time making sure they don't feel pushed too far.

I've been thinking about this model for a while, it is in common parlance in adventure activity circles and leadership management but I don't normally share this sort of thinking directly with the children. I was talking with a friend Kirsty who is a youthworker about how she shares models like this with the young people and this is so simple I knew the seven to nine year olds could get it too. So we laid out the different elements and talked about how important it is to move out of your comfort zone. They got it straight away and I saw lots of self motivated behaviour.

Comfort zones are such a personal individual thing and this is where the most important challenge for these children will come from. The challenge they set themselves.


  1. Hi Lily & thanks for adding this to the outdoor play link up. I love watching even the young children I work with discovering that they can do something they were a little unsure about at first.

  2. Great post -- what an important part of the need to get kids back in touch with Nature! Thanks. I'm following via your RSS feed, and hope you'll check out One Man's Wonder when you can.


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