This month, millions of children are returning to school following the unprecedented school shut down in March.
So far, reactions from children, parents and teachers has been mixed. While some children have been chomping at the bit to see their friends again – and establish a set routine – there are also reports of pupils experiencing anxiety. A number of families have also expressed trepidation and nervousness about children’s safety in the classroom. Others can’t wait for the pressures of home-schooling to be lifted and are confident that their offspring will adapt well to the new normal.
Whatever your personal experience of learning in lockdown, it has provided an opportunity to explore the importance of education more broadly. What has been clear throughout is that welfare and wellbeing are more pivotal drivers of children’s outcomes than learning by rote.
The digital age has made remote learning a reality. It is no longer necessary for lessons to be delivered solely in classrooms. However, isolation from other children can have a negative impact on pupil’s holistic health. As can being cooped up in the house.
In contrast, being outdoors has huge benefits for children, both physically and mentally. Outdoor settings also carry a far lesser Covid-19 infection risk.
Whether your children are back in a classroom setting or not, the Forest school movement might build their confidence and play an important role in preparing them for the wider world, irrespective of how that might have changed.
Forest Schools are held all over the world, in settings ranging from weekly sessions in parks and nurseries or primary schools to dedicated outdoor centres, kindergartens and after-school clubs.
Set over 14 acres, Hogacre Common is an inspirational resource for those recognising the need to act locally to tackle climate change. It has a growing community space where biodiversity is encouraged, renewable resources are nurtured and harvested and where local production is king.
The land and projects are managed by a Community Interest Company (CIC) called Hogacre Common Eco Park CIC. This is a type of social enterprise with the form of a company but motivated by public good and reinvesting profits back into its local community. Formally the sports ground for Corpus Christi College, it has been leased to the community since 2011 for a jar of honey a year.
Hogacre Common Eco Park CIC works in partnership with local organisations, businesses and community groups to make all the Eco Park projects possible.
Whether Forest School is your core interest or you are just looking for a wild space where children (and pets) can run free, visitors are positively encouraged with the invitation: “Come and visit – nature doesn’t do lockdown and there are always magical things to see.”