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Home Education

PATHFINDERS: Monthly Home Education Group

Workshops in Nature Connection & Bushcraft. Our aim is for children to be “seeking knowledge and sharing inspiration.”

Our Pathfinders monthly sessions offer quality outdoor education workshops and Forest School sessions for local home educating families.

Our aim is to create a space where home educating families can socialise whilst their kids have the opportunity to learn at their own pace, in their own way, with both high quality tutoring and child-led activities available. All this is set against the beautiful backdrop of the Hawarden Estate, which also provides us with a fantastic natural resource to base our sessions in, providing learners with direct, hands-on experience.

“Lea and James are really down to earth and inspiring people, great with the children and very knowledgeable. We always enjoy the sessions and can’t wait to be back after half term.” Leah Pugh – Parent

Meet the Leaders: James Kendall & Kay Ribbons-Steen

James is a qualified Forest School Leader & Bushcraft Instructor. “I’m excited to be able to offer the Pathfinders sessions to home-educated children, as it gives me an opportunity to put into practise so much of what I’ve learned and pass on my enthusiasm and knowledge about nature and outdoor living to kids minds who will soak it all up. I want to create a learning group that is first and foremost fun and engaging, but also adaptable to the children’s mixed ability and needs.”

Kay is a qualified Forest School Leader, Social Forester and has worked for a number of years in eco-therapy having trained as a Mindfulness in a Woodland Setting practitioner. Kay studied a work based diploma in Environmental Conservation with Flintshire Countryside & Coast Service. She is also an Ambassador for the National Autistic Society, and an autism awareness speaker.

“I am passionate about reconnecting people with nature, improving wellbeing and having a positive impact on the environment.”

james kendall & kay ribbons-steen. Forest School Leaders

Activities

Activities range from practical bushcraft skills to ecology to handicrafts, as well as child-led play for little ones. Following feedback from Home Ed families this format appeals both to parents who want a child-led session and those who want a structured, alternative curriculum for their kids from a tutor in an outdoor setting. We have created a three tier structure to our sessions which allows for activities to be geared toward the age of the learners:

Children aged under 2 years have use of our Forest School area with the campfire, mud kitchen, scavenger & mini-beast hunts and all the free-play they can muster with their imagination. Little ones are welcome to join in with activities of the 2-7 year olds, watch what’s going on, or simply snooze away in one of our tree hammocks. For any adults bringing just under 2’s there’s only a small charge of £5 for the session.

Children aged 2 – 7 years enjoy a mixture of structured outdoor learning and child-led Forest School activities & play, based around the campfire circle and surrounding woods. Structured learning sessions follow a different theme every month. There will also be time for this group to mix with the older children and learn together during a whole group activity. When it comes to child-led play a range of activity stations are set up so that children can try their hands at everything from the ever popular mud kitchen (for little ones) to den building. Our Forest School Leaders will support the play and learning that takes place. We charge £10 per child for the session. There is no charge for accompanying adults.

Children aged 8 – 16 years attend structured workshops and teaching sessions which follow a different theme each month. Teaching is led by experienced Bushcraft and/or Forest School Leaders with the aim of sparking their thirst for knowledge and bringing subjects to life with engaging activities. We take children through a programme of outdoor education which includes everything from using ancient fire-lighting techniques to tree identification to pond ecology. The class size is limited to a maximum of 8 children so that kids get a favourable child to adult ratio. We also promote a mentoring and buddying system within the class so that older children are supporting younger learners during the whole group activity. Our aim is to give high quality tutoring for your children, making the most of the rich natural resources around us. We charge £22 per child for the session, or a discounted £20 each if siblings are attending together. There is no charge for accompanying adults.

“Super knowledgeable, down to earth and all round awesome! I always learn so much from these guys, when attending their home ed forest school sessions with the kids. Spend a day outside, reconnect with nature, re-energise… you won’t be disappointed!” – Shelly Shambrook, Parent

HOW WE MENTOR YOUR KIDS

We aim to offer an exciting and engaging learning environment which draws on our wide range of skills, qualifications and experience in outdoor education. We’ve been inspired by the teachings of Joseph Cornell and Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature and we want to bring the outdoors alive in ways that will in turn inspire the children to want to continue their own learning.

Session subjects can include; bushcraft skills, ecology, environmental education, tree identification, traditional crafts, greenwood working, living history, circus skills, mindfulness, philosophy for kids, all with an emphasis on both the social and emotional aspects of learning in groups.

Children will get the most benefit from attending consecutive sessions over the year as each lesson builds on the knowledge gained previously and we ignite the kids enthusiasm by following up with the subjects that they seem the most interested in.

Children can’t be expected to take in lessons for the full 4 hours that they are with us, there’s too much tempting outdoor space to explore. So, we make time for uninterrupted play, a shared lunch around the campfire and at the end of each session there is the opportunity for children to come back to the campfire circle and share what they have discovered with the rest of the group.

For anyone unfamiliar with the Forest School approach to learning, here’s a brief definition…

“Forest School is an inspirational process, that offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees. Forest School is a specialised learning approach that sits within and compliments the wider context of outdoor and woodland education.” Forest School Association

TYPICAL SESSION TIMETABLE

Sessions will run from 10.30am until 2.30pm

10.30 – 10.45:
Welcome Circle. Introduction at the campfire for all.

10.45 – 12.00:
Workshop Session 1. Children aged 8 and up, first structured session with tutor. Children aged under 8, first structured session with tutor (Forest School free play also available).

12.00 – 12.30:
Lunchtime. Everyone around the campfire. Time for uninterrupted outdoor play for all.

12.30 – 13.30:
Workshop Session 2. Children aged 8 and up, second structured session with tutor. Children aged under 8, Forest School free play and guided activities.

13.30 – 14.15:
Whole Group Activity. Structured session as all children learn together, sharing knowledge, older children working with younger ones. Children encouraged to share what they have done today and any observations.

14.15 – 14.30:
Uninterrupted outdoor play for all.

14.30:
Closing Circle. We say our farewells.

If you can’t get there for 10.30am or you need to leave early, that’s fine. The group is flexible enough that you can dip and and out as your schedule allows.

FAQs

FAQ message to go here

Tea, coffee, biscuits and child-friendly drinks will be available at the Forest School campfire.
Use of our kitchen equipment, bowls, plates and cutlery are provided for any food you would like to cook on the campfire.

There will be a Woodland Classroom Leader with each group at all times and parents are welcome to assist with activities if they want to.

Sessions take place at Hawarden Estate Farm Shop, so we would have access not only to the whole visitor circuit including orchards, meadow and allotments, but we also have access to the wider woodland. The nearby Farm Shop provides us with proper toilets and use of an activity room for learning in poor weather if required.

Children aged under 2 years, £5 per session. (There is no extra charge for multiple children under 2 years)
Children aged 2 – 7 years, £10 each per session. (There is no extra charge for bringing additional children aged under 2 years)
Children aged 8-16 years, £22 per session.
Siblings aged 8-16 years. £20 per session.
If you have any questions, simply get in touch with us.

If your child is under 8 then an accompanying adult is required to attend the session with them. Children aged 8 or over can be dropped off for the session and picked up at the end, or alternatively parents/guardians can accompany them on the workshops and join in with the activities. This works great for anyone wanting to take the session’s themes further in their own Home Ed time.

We make time for everyone to enjoy their food together. The campfire is always burning, so you are welcome to cook your own lunch outdoors. In fact many of our families share a hot lunch together as a group and we encourage this. Older children who aren’t accompanied bring their own packed lunch.

Tasty lunches are also available at the award-winning Hawarden Estate Farm Cafe. They will even make up a packed lunch for you to enjoy in the woods if you like. You can see their full menu here.

Our campfire kettle provides hot water for teas & coffees for adults. We also have a hidden biscuit box, just don’t tell the kids.

Sessions are based in our Forest School space under trees at the Hawarden Estate Farm Shop. The venue has plenty of parking, proper toilets and use of an activity room should the weather turn against us. There is also the cafe and farm shop which provide locally produced and organic goods. Sessions run from 10.30am – 2.30pm. You can see a typical session timetable further down this page.

“Took Nora for the first time last week. She loved it. Being outdoors, playing, exploring and learning; is there anything better!? This will be a regular group for us now.” – Fay Parry, Parent)

The dictionary defines it as “a person who goes ahead and discovers or shows others a path or way” or “a person who finds or makes a path, way or route path, way or route, especially through a previously unexplored or untraveled wilderness.” For us, our Pathfinders are on their own journey seeking new knowledge, owning that knowledge and sharing it with others. We believe that the teacher is as much a Pathfinder as the pupil.

You can book into as many sessions as you want to in advance, either committing to every month or simply picking the session theme that interested you and your child. Payments are made via this website through Paypal. Places are limited on each session so book early to avoid missing out.

Go to our Events page to find the session you wish to book and follow the instructions.

We had a really lovely few hours today and learnt such a lot in a very short space of time. Elliott was so pleased he lit his cotton wool with his flint and Orla keeps talking about the death triangle, Good skills as well as good fun in a beautiful setting. Highly recommended.

Kirsty Wright

Survival School
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