Nurture skills and confidence in the peace of nature.
At Inside Out, we pride ourselves on offering a sensitive and responsive service for children with Autism, Special Educational Needs, and children in care. Many members of our fantastic team are trained in meeting special needs or have extensive experience as SEN educators.
A key principle of forest school is the importance of child-led learning. The freedom of the forest offers unstructured opportunities to play and develop through a supported and exploratory approach.
Our outdoor Forest School environment provides sensory interactions that enable sensory stimulation that is all natural, moving at a seasonal rhythm, with peacefulness and mindfulness. This develops healthy physical, social, and emotional development and encourages communication, confidence building and strengthening emotional control, which improves self-awareness and wellbeing.
Research has demonstrated that autistic children who have interactions with animals have more focused attention, social interaction, positive emotion, and speech (O’Haire, 2013). This has led researchers to focus on the benefits of the outdoors more generally, and we are seeing that nature is relevant for children with special educational needs (SEN).
Read our blog article about the mental health benefits of learning in nature.
Our sessions are planned around the four key areas of difference:
We can provide Forest School groups for 2 hours or a whole day, for small groups of 2 or 3 children.
We can provide a staff ratio of one-to-one or one-to-two, depending on the needs of the children.
Our aim at Inside Out is for nature to nurture every child and our forest school experience is accessible to everyone. We build familiarity, flexibility, understanding and co-operation into our sessions to help decrease autistic sensitivity and barriers to interaction.
The great outdoors engages every one of the senses by exposing them to rich sources of stimuli. So how can a heightened sensory experience actually achieve a calming and therapeutic result?
Outside there is freedom and space. Nature moves slowly, transitioning from sunrise to sunset and from one season to another by a natural rhythm that activates the brain to make important sensory distinctions, rather than causing overwhelm which can trigger a retreat to survival instinct and stunt brain activity.
We want everyone to be able to access outdoor learning through our events and sessions so we aim to ensure that nature can nurture each child. Inside Out Forest school works with the seven senses – touch, taste, sound, smell, sight, proprioception (awareness of the position and movements of the body) and vestibular sensation (your balance and movement in relation t the space around you). It is this vestibular sense that is intrinsic to our physical and emotional wellbeing and can be nurtured and developed most effectively through the basic principles of forest school.
Through a range of activities that focus on developing;
It’s often harder for children with Autism Spectrum Condition to process everyday information as their senses may be over-active or under-active or both. Running around the forest, climbing trees, jumping onto stepping stones, and even swinging in hammocks helps to regulate the stress hormone cortisol to reduce anxiety and fear and result in a positive experience.
Our skilled Inside Out facilitators hold specialist qualifications in working with ASC and can work to support your family by welcoming you to a calm and safe experience and offering activities in collecting, categorising, systematising, and repetition. Through careful observation, we can work with your child to respond to stimuli, offer choice and encourage inclusiveness. There is always a quiet space to be found, a cosy nook, or a peaceful clearing for children to just be themselves and listen to the calming whispers of the trees.