Meet … Victoria Welsby

4th October 2018

Victoria of ‘Into the Wild’ is our in-house Forest School trainer. Her role includes leading our First Steps Forest School sessions, working with children at each of our nurseries. We decided to find out a little more about Victoria and why she is so excited about the challenges her new role brings.

Welcome Victoria! You only joined Chichester College recently. Where have you come from?
Hello! My previous role was teaching in an Independent Prep School near Horsham. I am a qualified teacher with a great love of the outdoors and a passion for nurturing young people.

What is your role here?
I am a full time Forest School trainer and will be taking groups of learners of all ages into the outdoors to take part in a range of experiences which will build confidence, independence and communication skills. We will be using the outdoors as our playground and will use the natural environment to inspire us.

How will you be working with us at First Steps?
I am thrilled to be joining the First Steps team to deliver Forest School sessions to the children. Over the course of the year, all children in Step Three (and Butterflies at First Steps Bersted) will be given the opportunity to take part in a six week programme in which they will be invited to attend a Forest School session once a week. At Forest School, they will be given the opportunity to play in the natural environment, will be taught to use some basic tools, will have the opportunity to use natural resources in craft projects and will enjoy time around the campfire, eating some delicious food and singing campfire songs.

Why do you think Forest School is so important?
Forest School allows children to grow as individuals; at their own pace and following their unique interests and needs. In the busy and pressured world that we live in nowadays, I think it’s vitally important that children are given space to just ‘be’. Experiences at Forest school help children to become confident and resilient and prepare them for taking on the world outside the woodland.

What’s the funniest thing that has happened whilst you’ve been teaching?
It’s hard to narrow down just one funny moment. Working with small children is a laugh a minute job; from listening to them play with the nativity figures at Christmas with the Angel Gabriel declaring, “Flipping Heck, Mary’s laid a baby,” to a child loudly asking a parent volunteer, “Why do you have such a small head and such a big body?” Then there was the time I accidentally cut a blind in two during my first week of my very first teaching post, having been told that the cleaner had put some lovely rolls of material in my classroom that I may wish to use as backing paper for a display. I was most bemused when the caretaker started tearing through the corridor shouting “STOP! What are you doing?” ….Not funny at the time, but looking back I can see the funny side.

What are you most looking forward to in your First Steps forest school sessions?
Getting to know the children and having lots of fun with them in the woods. I’m also excited about cooking a range of delicious campfire snacks.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?

I’m very sporty and like to keep fit. I do a silly exercise club where we play lots of children’s games like Bulldog, Dodgeball and Frisbee. I also love adventure sports like surfing and skiing.

Your best ever holiday … where did you go?
I spent a year travelling around Australia, New Zealand and Bali. I’m a real animal lover so I plan my travels around finding unusual animals such as platypus, echidna and red kangaroos.

What’s your favourite snack/treat?
I’m a bit of a chocaholic and a parent at my old school used to make me the most delicious chocolate brownies. My best leaving present was the recipe so that I can make them whenever I wish.

Bicycle or motorbike?
Bicycle! I like to cruise along at a gentle pace and take in the views as I go.

Peppa Pig or Paw Patrol?
Paw Patrol- I love an adventure and I’m also quite fond of puppies!

Favourite season and why?
As a child, I always loved Winter as I love the excitement of when it snows. As an adult, I’ve become disappointed by how infrequently it snows and I’ve decided that early Summer is my favourite because I love the long days, the warm weather and spending lots of time outdoors in the sunshine.

Spider or snake?
Tricky question! I don’t mind small spiders but I’m not keen on big ones! Similarly, I don’t mind a harmless snake but I’m not sure I’d want to go too near to a poisonous snake. If I had to choose though, I think it would be a snake as they usually slither away fairly quickly once they know you’re coming!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
Happy! I don’t have set ideas about where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing, but I’d like to think I’ll be doing things which make me happy with people who make me happy and in a happy place!

Thank you Victoria. Everyone at First Steps is so excited to have you on board and we can’t wait to get going with Forest School. Our First Steps Families – keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates and pictures as our children begin Forest School.

Making Phonics Fun At First Steps

6th December 2016

We are delighted that the lovely Janna, who regularly visits all three of our nurseries introducing Fun Phonics to the children, is our guest blogger this month. Here she tells you a little more about herself and what she does.

 

Fun Phonics for parents

Fun Phonics came about by accident when my son started reception at St Mary’s school in Pulborough. As a parent and qualified primary school teacher, I found myself listening to and helping parents with their concerns about their children’s education. It became apparent to me that many parents were confused about phonics. Consequently, I hired out a village hall and set up a free workshop for parents to actively learn about phonics through games and discussion. I created a Facebook page to promote the event and thus Fun Phonics was born.

 

Fun Phonics for pre-schoolers

Before long, I had interest from many local pre-schools. First Steps were among the first nurseries to ask me to work with their children. I devised a short, but active, phonics session for pre-schoolers, and the children loved it! I use a range of techniques to teach the children including sign, rhyme, alliteration, song, dance and of course PLAY.

 

So how do I help your children? 

I always begin by engaging the children with sounds. I play a variety of sounds and ask the children to identify them. During these sound sessions, the children have been to the ocean and the forest, they have listened to the sounds of birds and insects and they have drummed on saucepans and rattled their shakers. I have developed their ears to hear subtle differences in sounds and this has laid the foundations for their early letter sound recognition.

 

What’s in the bag? 

I have become famous for my song, ‘what’s in the bag?’ https://youtu.be/A9jl4JUGHrk  The children all sing along and put their hands up eagerly to discover what is inside the bag each week. The small objects inside the bag are always linked to the letter sound of the week and the children are becoming experts at hearing the first sound in many words.

 

Sound of the week

The weekly activities, nursery rhymes and stories are always linked to the sound of the week. The children have looked for snakes in the grass, they’ve had tea with tigers and zoomed cars down race tracks, among many other carefully planned activities. I enjoy watching all of the children grow and develop each week.

 

Janna

 

 

Thank you Janna. We at First Steps have no doubt that Fun Phonics plays a big part in helping our children transition smoothly from pre-school to reception and, watching the reaction Janna gets when she arrives each week, shows just how much the children enjoy her sessions!

If you’d like to contact Janna or find out more about Fun Phonics, take a look at her Facebook page https://m.facebook.com/funphonics15/ for fun and friendly help and advice.  Janna urges no one to push children to read, but knows there are loads of fun ways to approach it through play and storytelling. You can also watch Janna’s ‘what’s in the bag?’ YouTube videos with your children https://youtu.be/A9jl4JUGHrk  which are useful guides for parents.

Janna holds regular phonics workshops for parents in many different venues and you might like to subscribe to her website http://www.funphonics.education/ to receive notifications about forthcoming events.

 

If you would like to be a guest blogger for First Steps, please get in touch with lucy.oldham@chichester.ac.uk. We’d love to hear from you.