Home Ed Forest Group Gets Underway
One thing we’ve found over the last (almost) year of home educating is that the number of opportunities for getting involved in things far outstrips what we were expecting. There are all kinds of groups going on locally, which mean that the children can do things they might not ordinarily have access to.
Last week we had our first Forest Group session with a local Forestry Commission Ranger in some local woods. Around twelve children (with an age span of 2-12) and half a dozen parents gathered to listen whilst the ranger told us about the makeup of the woods we were in, the wildlife we might see there, what the Commission’s role was in these woods, and a talk through how to operate safely whilst we were there.
The idea of this Forest Group is a mix of forest school and conservation group. We spend about four hours with the ranger, once a month and during those hours, we’ll be learning some forest school type activities – fire lighting, shelter building and such, as well as taking part in the conservation work the Forestry Commission carries out.
For this session, we were asked to help with brashing – cutting off the side limbs of fir trees to allow the trees’ energies to go into growing the trunk straight and tall. We were shown how to do this safely, and then how to stack the offcuts so that they could become a habitat for the local bugs. Armed with safety goggles, work gloves, loppers and saws, the children set to work. Some of the younger ones (Plum and PK included) worked with adults, whilst the older ones (8 and up) set off on their own.
The younger ones didn’t last as long as the older ones of course, but there were activities in place to keep them amused – clay to make Boggets with – a clay head on a stick which they then decorated with things they found in the woods; a nature quiz, pine cone collecting (this one was invented by Plum who asked me if she could take a pine cone home. She then half filled the rucksack with them!).
We made hot chocolate with a kelly kettle, sat on the forest floor to eat our packed lunches, and whilst the adults chatted, some of the children went exploring and saw a stag in the woods! (How, I have no idea – the noise Bean and his friends were making was enough to scare off most wildlife this side of the Watford Gap I would think!)
As we watched the children working together – older ones helping the younger ones – we wondered how it could be that anyone could suggest home educated children aren’t socialised.
We can’t wait for the next Forest Group session, and in fact I’m considering asking if we can create a weekly forest group, since once a month doesn’t quite seem enough somehow!