Loose Parts Categorised By Schema

A most wonderful chart looking at schemas. By Michelle Thornhill posted with permission.






The updated version of Michelle Thornhills amazing chart on schemas! 



Lessons In Self-Regulation From A Tree

February 25, 2016


Nature has a way. Winter has a way. I sit still on a felled tree that slowly decomposes under me in my ‘sit-spot’. The still air carrying the slowly descending flakes of powder, landing gently on my sleeve makes me breathe intentionally.

These moments of reflection are perceptions in my brain that carry me for only but a wrinkle in time, but last an eternity. It is how I feel in the moment and how I regulate myself for the rest of the day. Just that small five minutes of uninterrupted time allow me to re-frame my thoughts and needs for my afternoon. I get so much for so little. This is how we start or end our sessions.

Rewind the clock back 15 minutes in time. A group of 12 junior kindergarten students loudly trudge along a beaten path leading to a serenity of sorts, it is our forest. They deem themselves ‘Forest Kids’, not unlike superhero’s that can “scale tall buildings in a single bound.”They can climb trees in the wink of an eye. These now 4 and 5 year olds have become tree climbing aficionados that enthusiastically share their joy of success. After all it has taken some serious patience, courage, empathy and above all, self-regulation to get where they are, from where they have come.

The ultimate self-regulation, I have determined, has got to be teaching oneself to climb a tree. The first approach as you look upwards towards a snarl of branches seems thrilling. You step back, look up and begin to examine whether or not this activity is for you. The decision is made and an attempt will begin post haste. You grab upon a branch littered with protruding bumps of needles and new growth then pause to grip in another spot that feels better. Now your other hand must follow and bring along behind it a foot. But where to place the foot? The lowest branch perhaps? It is only fractionally off the ground, you raise your leg and then the other, while both hands are clinging to an upper branch simultaneously! You feel a small twinge of fear and decide that is all your body can account for today. You climb down and feel exhilarated and exhausted all at the same time. You go off to play with your friends at the log.

The following day you return to the tree and repeat your steps. Only this time you have decided you will climb right to the top and be declared the highest tree climber ever. You make it another 2 branches higher than last time before descending for the day.  Each day you progress until you declare that you are now the worlds highest tree climber, and each day sees you make a goal that sometimes is completed and sometimes defeated. It is always on your own terms. It is never with encouragement from adults or peers but instead, a labour of accomplishment that you took your time, to conquer your fears one step at a time and only when you were ready. You had to listen to your brain messaging you of fear and you had to decide if the threat was perceived or if you were in real danger. Your body had to cooperate and resist the temptation to quit, or run from the challenge. It became important to challenge yourself and try your best. Some days you weren’t ready and your friends supported you as you did for them when they weren’t ready. You had to monitor your surroundings, track and estimate your footing, determine your tolerance and what to do if you couldn’t manage. You had to listen to your body and any signs of stress you placed on it, by every snapping branch, blowing breeze or slippery step.  Every step of the way you self-regulated, no one else did it for you but you. You take great pride in your accomplishments.

Children climb trees regularly in the forest. The climbing tree has proven to be a tool of self-regulation that some students choose and others do not. It is self-determined learning that develops life long learning. Risky play and a growth mind set help children to understand and manage stress. Like self-regulation they are fluid processes and not programs that can be instructed.

Gail Molenaar is an RECE,  Forest and Nature School Practitioner and a Self-Regulation Advocate who is  currently studying under Stuart Shanker at The Mehrit Centre, TMC.


Self- Regulation: Understanding the Self


What is this new buzz word, self-regulation? Is it another behaviour management strategy based theory that if we all just follow our classes will miraculously be quiet, amicable and compliant?
Self-regulation is most certainly almost never any of the above. It is instead a paradigm revolution.

Children who are stressed will behave in ways that may or may not be socially acceptable. Often children who are under great deals of stress will exhibit behaviour that educators try to manage. With good intentions we have the child do something that we believe will help calm and relax them. What we are missing is the literal meaning in self-regulation.

SELF- regulation- Is the ability to regulate the self. It is recognising and understanding our own emotions and our reactions to predictable and unpredictable events that cause us stress.

As educators, care givers or parents it is our job to listen, observe and assist a child who may be experiencing stress. It is identifying and understanding those hidden stressors which are devastating for one child and pleasing for another. It is creating a relationship with the child that says, I know you, I care about how you feel and I want to help you find ways to identify and manage your emotions.

In order to accomplish this we must first find our own ways of coping and dealing with our emotions. What do we do when we are stressed? Is running on a hard paved road a stress reliever, a quiet walk in the woods or maybe a sit down listening to music? Which ever you choose will likely be very different from what your spouse, colleague or friend may choose. Consider this when creating strategies for the children in your life. They need to see the strategies you use in action and then have many choices to self -select ways to calm.

It’s all about relationships and understanding the difficulty in dealing with stress.

By Gail Molenaar RECE

Forest and Nature School Practitioner

Self-Regulation Advocate


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