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I was reminded last week that sometimes what we, as teachers, have planned to do might not always provide the most powerful learning and how important it is to accept that and let the children take the lead.

We took Year 1 to Lytes Cary Court as part of their Forest School learning with the purpose of developing their large scale den building skills. We had planned to split into 4 groups with an adult leading each and work as teams to choose a good location for a den, gather the necessary resources and then decide how to assemble them to create a den for us all to fit inside. We were all suitably excited and knew the children would enjoy the experience. However upon arrival the children had other ideas!

From the moment we arrived one could almost hear their imaginations begin to whirr as they scanned the environment and then scattered in all directions as they went to explore. As in our weekly Forest School sessions at school, some children chose to work in groups whilst others opted to work by themselves but all were soon engrossed in their chosen ‘job’ and remained focussed and committed to what they wanted to achieve. As the adults observed what was going on we decided to facilitate what they wanted to do rather than force them to do what we had planned on the experienced understanding their learning would be on a much deeper level than what it would be if we stopped to fulfil our plans. It was definitely the ‘right’ decision! The children built dens, used branches to sweep pathways and make boundaries, created their own ‘tools’ for digging, found the juiciest worms and slugs to make homes for, worked out how to make a log see-saw balance using themselves as weights, climbed trees, swung on ropes and enjoyed the delight of dancing in falling leaves.

We arrived to build dens but left with so much more; thanks to the children!

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