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Therapeutic outdoor learning

Thursday, 23 January 2020
Windmill Hill City Farm

Thanks to a grant from Children In Need, Windmill Hill City Farm has begun a three-year programme of nurture groups. Based at the 4.5 acre green oasis in Bristol, the staff are particularly passionate about using the outdoors therapeutically. Working with children who find the classroom environment a challenge, the small groups meet on a weekly basis after school throughout the year.

Sessions include a snack taken round a table, sharing any news and ideas for activities. For many this shared meal is a real novelty and a great way to develop social skills. It has been amazing to see the transformation in behaviour in the children over the course of the session. The value of working on the farm, especially with animals, is that they can directly see how their behaviour affects the animals and so develop self-regulation.

'One child built a particular relationship with an animal and would talk about this in school and make links. This child had often struggled building friendships in school, but since seems to be more confident on the playground and had less incidents where things have gone wrong outside.'

Since many of these children will have missed out on play opportunities, the other popular activity is digging in our digging patch. For one eight-year-old, the mud presented a real challenge, however when given his first pair of wellies, he spent the rest of the session squelching in the digging patch! Everyone is looking forward to the year ahead and watching more magic happen on the farm.

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