Exciting times at Bee in the Woods…
Forest School Adventures into Childcare.... by Lorraine Perks
As the weather turns chillier and our winter woollies go on, the ‘Queen Bees’ of Bee in the Woods are working hard behind the scenes on our latest and very exciting project: A Forest School Pre-School!
We can barely contain our excitement to be embarking on this project. Lucy has been nurturing this little seedling of an idea for quite a while and now it is definitely sprouting roots and lovely green shoots!
So what is it?
Firstly, yes, Bee in the Woods Forest Pre-School will be an Outdoor Nursery. Rain or shine, we will be providing outdoor childcare for 3-7 year olds. But, of course being Forest School it is so much more than childcare!
We believe that the Forest School means inspirational learning through a simple but magic recipe:
How to make Forest Schooled Children:
1. Firstly, immerse children in the weather, the changing seasons and the wonder the natural world (ensure children are dressed for the weather and remember they wipe clean!);
2. Next, provide regular opportunities for children to learn new skills (yes, give them the right skills and build enough confidence and a 4 year old can safely design and make their own woodland toy!);
3. Now, build self-esteem and resilience through hands-on opportunities for success, where children can choose where they want to take their learning.
4. Return muddy/glowing/happy/tired/Forest School children to parents and carers at the end of each day.
5. Repeat, repeat, repeat!
I suppose we could call it child-led, holistic, child-centred and so on. But we just like to call it ‘Forest School’!
And where will it be…?
It’s been all about ‘location, location, location’ over the last few months. The feedback from our recent survey has given us fantastic insight. It became clear that there is a lot of enthusiasm for an outdoor setting that is wild enough - yet accessible by public transport. So we have been looking for ideal sites that would give children the freedom and connection to the natural world that we know they thrive in - yet are still in easy reach from Brighton/Hove City Centre. We have been working hard on securing two lovely woodland sites in the city. As soon as we have confirmation, we will make our big location announcement.
We are dreaming big, so if you just happen to have a bit of land or know someone who does and would like to be part of our exciting project do get in touch.
So far, getting inspirational sites secured has been the biggest part of the process and thankfully we are almost there. Over the coming months we are going to be organising events and inviting our Bee in the Woods families to visit our first site for taster sessions while we await our Ofsted registration. We would also love to get families involved with the set-up, so get those gardening gloves and tools ready!
What about the weather?
We all know about the good ole British weather and as we head into the chills of winter, we are aware that many parents might wonder how we would cope with the cold and wet in an entirely outdoor setting. We are still learning and taking advise from many other established nurseries across the UK (Including Northern Scotland!) about the best practices. Most outdoor settings have some kind of shelter - from a parachute suspended in the trees to a belltent, a yurt or a log cabin. In addition to ensuring every child wears top quality weather-proof clothing, we will be investigating all of these options and applying appropriate inclement weather policies to our pre-school.
Once we have our site secured, it will be all systems go with OFSTED registration, site preparation and recruitment! We would hate to set a date and have to move it so for now, we are just keeping everything crossed for ‘before summer’. We will of course keep you all posted!
So far, Lucy and I (Lorraine) have been working with Early Years advisors at Brighton and Hove council and visiting Outdoor Nurseries around Sussex, London and Kent for advice, while Simone continues to run her fabulous Baby Bee sessions. As we get closer and closer to bringing our Forest School Pre-School to life, we need to expand the team.
Nursery team members:
Firstly, we are going to be looking for happy, inspirational, passionate Early Years professionals, Forest School Leaders or teachers with QTS to join us on the ‘wild side’ of education. Get in touch if you are interested!
Secondly, we are looking for lovely people to help advise and support Bee in the Woods. Lucy is in the process of setting up a board of Bee in the Woods ambassadors with super-skills in fields such Early Years education, finance, business, social enterprise etc. If you have super-skills to share and are keen to help us bring our dreams to life, please get in touch!
As a social enterprise, our aim is to give as many Brighton & Hove children as possible the opportunity for Forest School adventures. We would like to build a community around our unique nursery that helps to connect families, schools and community groups with the great outdoors. If you'd like to volunteer or get involved in anyway, please do get in touch!
So, with Christmas round the corner, Lucy and I will be as the North Pole elves. The dream of a much needed, long overdue Outdoor Nursery in Brighton and Hove is well and truly alive. Watch this space!
Lorraine left teaching a year ago to join our Bee in the Woods adventure. Since joining, she has developed innovative, hands-on outdoor workshops for schools, started her Forest School training and is working with Lucy on the exciting Pre-School plans.