I feel so privileged to have been a spectator of such an organic project from start to finish. As I mentioned a few months ago I used to work with Lee, and he had a dream of one day running his very own Outdoor Pre-school.
Today that dream is a reality.
When I went along today to the inaugural open morning of The Surrey Hills Outdoor Pre-school, it was amazing to see how much this setting has progressed in just a few months.
I met Pamela, who joins Lee’s team and will manage the pre-school. We chatted for a while and discovered that Pamela already owns and runs her own nursery, as well as having two grown up children and 2 grandchildren. Being brought up in Scotland she has always loved being outside and as an owner of a horse and dog enjoys many hours with them in the rural location of Petworth that she now lives in.
Being born and raised in Kenya, I too am a lover nature and everything that goes along with it! As a child I spent hours outside, I was blessed to have a very good climate to run around and play in. I can’t try and pretend that we are as lucky with the weather, especially with the recent storms and flooding.
This is an Outdoor Pre-School that follows the Forest School approach. This means that learning is initiated by those taking part, centred on the needs of the individual. It takes a long-term sustained approach, inspiring the children through hands-on positive experiences.
A Forest School gives children the hands-on opportunity to learn about their natural environment, whilst allowing them to use their own initiative to solve problems. By embracing these experiences, the children become more confident and self-aware, whilst learning about boundaries, both physical and social. This in turn enables the children to use their built-in ability to challenge their own understanding of risk.
Having worked side by side with Lee for so many years, I can say from personal experience that he is a brilliant teacher and his interaction with children is second to none. I am also a huge fan of Forest schools and outdoor learning and believe it really does help children with so many skills both in early years as well as skills for life. If I am ever blessed with children, Surrey Hills Outdoor Pre-school will be the first people I contact!
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Written by Claire Taylor