In an increasingly computerised and technological world, it is important for youngsters to connect with the world around them, and be immersed in their environment through play and exploration, come rain or shine.
Having been a primary school teacher for over 10 years, I have seen how modern life can take over; more and more children turn up to class with very little experience of the natural world. Their weekend news is often based around computer games or TV programmes, and much less around outdoor adventures and exploring with family and friends. Whatever the cause of this, I feel it is important to help children experience the sense of wonder that comes with observing nature around us – to be amazed by the changing seasons, or see how many living things are around us hiding in nooks and crannies.
When the opportunity arose for me to work with Teaching Trees I jumped at the chance. A way to bring the outdoors to children, and children to the outdoors.
Teaching Trees is the education ‘branch’ of the Royal Forestry Society. It offers free curriculum linked sessions to give primary school children the opportunity to learn about trees, woodlands and forestry in a fun and hands on way, and through their experiences, to gain an appreciation of a woodland’s value – for wildlife, for timber and for enjoyment.
Sessions are run in many parts of the UK, led by a team of experienced education officers. They take place in RFS member woodlands.
Bringing the curriculum outdoors
Teaching Trees officers liaise with teachers to offer sessions tailored to suit each class. This can be topic based, for example linked to houses and homes, or could be numeracy or literacy based, bringing to life the learning objectives from the classroom. Some sessions have involved working out how many logs you may get out of a tree, or how many trees to plant in an area, or working out how old trees are; all done through role play and pretending to be the forester.
Inspiring future generations
As Teaching Trees officers, our job is to not only give children a sense of wonder through nature, and link sessions to the national curriculum, but also to inspire future foresters. People who will grow up to protect and manage our woodlands so their children and grandchildren can enjoy them for years to come. We want to plant that seed… get children interested…