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Building Resilient Children at Canopy Forest School

Updated: Jul 5, 2021

I will never forget the magnificent smile on my son Stanley's face when he climbed to the top of a slippery muddy bank in the woods where we often stopped to play. Stanley was three years old and he had been attempting to climb this bank for the past few weeks, only managing to get part way before slipping down, until now.

I stood and watched, giving words of encouragement "Well done Stanley, you are doing great, you can do it" like I had done many times before. I knew that this was something that Stanley had to do by himself. Trial and error, developing his stamina, strength and balance, mastering and building his confidence. I offered him strategies, asked open-ended questions and ideas but stood back and resisted my mothers urge to help and solve the problem for him. I knew that this would only teach him that I was better at solving the problem than he was and that every time he failed in climbing the bank, he was learning, making connections physically and mentally. As I stood by each time, encouraging and reassuring him, he didn't give up. Stanley kept on trying; his perseverance was amazing and I new that one day he would master the slope.

Then the day arrived when he had learnt from all of his previous mistakes and he made it all the way to the top! "I did it, I did it Mummy, look at me I am at the top" he shouted. He was so proud of himself, he had completed what he had set out to achieve all by himself through trial and error, persistence and resilience.

Resilience is the ability to recover from difficulties and bounce back. This is a skill that we teach in Forest Schools when children do come across a problem or a barrier. They tackle it instead of giving up and as educators we support, encourage them along the way which gives them the confidence to believe in themselves because we believe that they can figure it out.

So often in todays world we see failure as a negative, something we avoid, are scared of and run away from but actually this is an essential part of learning. The longer and harder the journey, the greater the sense of achievement, pride and self-esteem. We never really fail at anything, because we learn from our mistakes and through them know how to do things differently in order to achieve what we set out to do. At Canopy Forest school we celebrate this learning process and use the moto:

FAIL- First Attempt In Learning.

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