Residential experience supports early years students’ outdoor activity expertise
A residential trip has inspired early years students at Walsall College to come up with new ways to plan outdoor activities for children and measure how effective these are.
20 Level 1-3 students and T Level students spent three days at Bewdley-based Frank Chapman Outdoor Education Centre. Here, they took part in rope climbing, mining and archery and went on orienteering walks. Under the guidance of the centre team and the college’s lecturers, they were encouraged to identify how they would each deliver the various activities to children of all ages in a Forest School setting.
“Students and staff all had an excellent time at the centre,” said Lecturer, Keri Birch. “It was a chance to break out from the classroom environment and think more freely and objectively about how they, as individuals can gain new skills and confidence through practical, outdoor activities.
As trainee early professionals they also saw how they would utilise the centre’s facilities and features to benefit children with different learning needs, supporting their development and wellbeing.”
Keri continued: “With our on-campus Forest School now an active and valuable part of our early years and childcare curriculum, we’re eager for students and staff to further develop the timetables and activity plans they are delivering, or will deliver in future to the babies and children in our Little Professors Nursery.
“Overall, this is excellent preparation for the teaching and development principles the students will carry out in their future careers.”
“I learnt new trails, I learnt about the clay in the stream, also how to do earth art and story walks,” said student, Bethany. “The trip benefitted me as I’m able to take some of the activity ideas into my own placement. I also understood that early years practitioners should always have a go and have positive attitudes to all indoor and outdoor activities such as going out in the mud to do orienteering.”
Student, Holly added: “My Frank Chapman residential experience was an amazing. Not only did it allow me to learn how to support children in an outdoor environment, it supported me in becoming a much more confident version of myself.
“I’ve gained many skills, including doing things that push me out of my comfort zone as this is something I sometimes struggle with. It also allowed me to make new friends and build memories with my friendship circle.”