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Outdoor forest school in Brighton

I have just finished five weeks of outdoor nature classes with the middle boy.  He’s just turned four and we haven’t got a very good track record of going to classes together.

Music classes and he was too loud for the teachers  – how can this be possible in a music class? Gymnastics he was fed up of waiting in line so would wander off and the teacher got cross. Other indoor classes and his bounding energy would leave me faced with glares and stares from mums of quieter children.

I know that I shouldn’t care about what people think but it gets relentless and it makes me feel really negative about my child instead of proud of his energy. I just stopped taking him.

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His favourite activity is being outdoors.

He used to go to a nursery in with an amazing forest school.  On a Friday morning he would get into the mini bus and head out to some woodland where they would roam free, climbing trees and making dens, only to come together to cook their lunch.

We moved house, he swapped nursery and he kept talking about forest school.  Our weekends are often spent in the woods on the South Downs building dens and playing games but I felt that he needed something just for him and not with his brothers.

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The three boys in Pulborough woods one weekend.

The Outdoors Project has been on our radar for a while, we came across them in Hove Park last Summer. Children running around, laughing, screaming, free and outside, I loved it.The eldest has been to a few of their holiday clubs now. Their Nerf games clubs are always fully booked and they are now running clubs in Shoreham, so it’s even easier for us to do the clubs as they are down the road.

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“Mummy, some fairies live in here.”

Saplings is a pre school nature class for 18 months old to school age, it is outdoors whatever the weather.  Each week we would start the class with a welcome song and Sammy the squirrel saying hello to the kids, then move on to a game of 1-2-3 where are you?  It always cracks me up that kids hide behind a slither of a tree and think that they are hidden!

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You cant see me.

Some weeks we would have a story to set the scene and other weeks Katie (the brilliant teacher) would use props to describe the theme for the morning.

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Katie and Sammy singing the welcome song.

After classes where I have been constantly shushing the boy and willing him not to be the child screaming out the answer full pitched these classes taught me a thing or two about myself.  There is beauty everywhere. I spend so much time with my head in my phone (mainly working but still….) I miss the little things right in front of us.

Here are a few photos that demonstrate the outdoors world through the eyes of my incredible little four year old.

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“Look Katie, its a snail.”


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Exploring the “jungle” with his friend.

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A clay dragonfly.

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Mud painting on the footpath.

So, why not just go to the park and do all this with your child?  Yes, of course we could do that but when we tend to go to the park he wants to go to a playground and I just switch off abit.  Six years of playgrounds and I am so bored of being there (although I have just discovered a new park that has changed all of that, I will write about it next week), he runs off and has a good time and I chase round after thing 3 who thinks that he can climb as high as a four year old, although he’s only one!

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A giant birds nest all the Saplings made together.

Saplings has a loose structure and a theme that engages the children from the start.  On the weeks that thing 2 decided he didn’t want to do anything other than roll down hills or roll in mud it was okay.  Katie gently encouraged him to join in with an activity but if he chose not to that was fine.  I really liked her and the children clearly did.

I would recommend Saplings as an activity to do with your pre schoolers.  We did it in pretty cold conditions but it was really good fun and much better than sitting in a sweaty soft play.  The weather is perfect now for their forest school classes, outdoor holiday clubs and they even do birthday parties.  To find out more about The Outdoors Project click on the link here.

Until the next time.

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