In my previous years at a school in Surrey I regularly took out groups of 2+ years olds to Woodland school sessions. On one occasion I had a child that struggled with his gross motor skills. As the children all arrived at the Woodland session and the various risk assessments/registration and woodland rules were carried out, it was time for the children to explore.

They all ran in different directions, some in little groups as they began to investigate, whilst others looked in awe at the space around them. I continued to focus on this particular child whose physical development was not age appropriate. He watched the other children as they walked up the hill to then run back down laughing, calling out with joy as they built up momentum upon reaching the bottom of the slope. Eventually this child built up the courage to climb the hill himself and after numerous attempts he conquered his fear. I will never forget the look of achievement on his little face, it was incredible to see. The next step was for him to face the decline of the hill. Even at the age of two he knew his limitations, therefore, required adult intervention.

Looking at insects
Looking at insects

Over the next few weeks he continued to re-visit the same hill to face his own personal challenge and finally he met his goal. The opportunity to observe this child grow in confidence and build on his own self-esteem was fantastic and I was proud to be part of it.

Teaching in the big outdoors is essential for children to learn about their environment and has huge benefits to offer in all areas of a child’s development. When outside there are aspects of learning that may not necessarily occur when indoors. Children do not feel trapped or feel hindered by adults, instead they come alive as they grow in confidence and begin to communicate on a higher level as they learn to negotiate and work in groups. They learn to take risks, then begin to loose their fears when facing challenges. The opportunities are endless.

I am a firm believer in outdoor learning and continue to have a passion to drive and encourage all adults in the educational profession to use the outdoor approach to learning. However, it is not to be taken lightly as the responsibility is immense.

Children in the woods. Playing, exploring, learning

As a teacher regularly taking my class out of the classroom I am continuously carrying out head counts to help counter the very real fear of losing a child. That is why I now work for the Hug Group to promote this groundbreaking piece technology that helps you keep track of your class and gives you peace of mind every child is safe while still allowing the very important freedom to explore. My own goal and challenge is to encourage every Early Years setting and school to have the Classhug tracker as part of their resources. It is as important as taking the daily register.

Vanessa Fell BA (Hons) EYPS MA has over 20 years of experience in education within EYFS and KS1 including being Nursery Coordinator, Early Years Teacher and the SENDco (Special Educational Needs and Disability coordinator) at a leading independent school in Surrey. Vanessa joined The Hug Group in 2017 as Director of Industry Relations and Education Strategy

How a trip to the woods helped one of my pupils with development issues
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