Winter Wellbeing

When faced with damp playgrounds, grey skies and soggy winter coats, it’s easy to be discouraged from going outside to learn. The concept of relaxing and enjoying a view or exploring in the dirt can automatically seem less welcoming. So you might not believe me when I tell you the photo above was taken on the New Forest coast this winter. If you step outside your classroom door you’ll never know how the day might turn out, the fact of being outdoors, being active and sharing with others can lift pupils’ mood, creativity and achievement. Some of the best trips we’ve had this year have been on the “grey days” at the end of the year.Below are a selection of my favourite “winter trip” photos this and previous autumn and winter terms. I hope we can share a little of the awe and wonder we found each day, as well as the sense of expedition and exploration that pupils gained.

The “5 ways to wellbeing” postcards published by the new economics foundation in 2008 challenged us to connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give… and all of these can be done through outdoor learning. It  can be half an hour in the school grounds, or it can be your boxing day family walk. It’s also a great recipe for a school activities in the Forest:

  • Connect…  find a partner, how are you both feeling to be outdoors? Do you both have chilly fingers? Are you excited or do you not know what to expect? You’re not alone.
  • Be Active… follow the trail, climb the hill, choose an animal movement to copy.
  • Take Notice… can you spot 5 things, something soft, something shiny, something smelly, something slimy, something silly.
  • Keep Learning… investigate how those objects got there, what kind of animal poo is it? Can you invent your own story behind the collection of mysterious acorn cups that you found?
  • Give… share your story. Nominate a friend who was imaginative or a great detective to tell the rest of the class about their discovery.

Older pupils could use these categories to design their own activities, taking ownership of their learning and reflecting on whether they found what they expected to. They could even plan something and share it in small groups with a pupils from a class in KS1 or Reception.

So pull on your wellies, we’re looking forward to seeing you out and about in January term.

Seasons greetings from the education team at New Forest National Park Authority.

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Seasons greetings from New Forest Education, and thanks to all our contributors this year.

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