A Guide to Our Sessions
Since our first pilot session in 2017, we have developed a variety of models, appreciating that barriers to independent play can vary for different children.
We believe that helping children’s confidence in their own judgements can begin at an early age, and so we offer supervised sessions for younger children too.
This was our first type of session, developed directly in response to our desire for under 12s to experience the type of freedom we had as children; self-directed play in nature in groups.
Sessions are held in a public park, and start off from Base. Children are briefed, given three golden rules, and then they’re off!
Meanwhile, our fantastic team of volunteers discretely keep tabs of the children’s whereabouts, whilst not intruding in their play. The children only seek out volunteers, or return to base, if needed. Parents or carers must remain on site at all times and can volunteer, enjoy some free time or take younger children to our Rocking Roamers sessions.
Sessions last around 1.5 to 2 hours. There is no minimum age but guidance is provided to parents on deciding if their child is ready. We can also help children to settle in by matching new participants with more experienced buddies.
These sessions are targeted at children who are not ready to freely roam, as a first step to developing independent decision-making and collaborative play in nature.
Sessions are supervised but children are encouraged to explore freely, growing confidence in their own judgements, and to help each other out rather than relying on adults. The sessions also include structured adult-led activities, such as scavenger hunts and storytelling.
Whilst most participants are aged five and under, some older children with additional needs have found these sessions appropriate for them for longer.
‘My favourite part was the muddy mountain and getting to the top’E, age 4
We are committed to being actively inclusive and are aware that some children are unable to access Free Roam; it may be that the public nature of a park is considered too risky for them, or some children may prefer the option of playing alone. Roam-IN is our model that has been designed alongside families for children with additional needs and their siblings. Whilst similar to Free Roam, Roam-IN is designed for children who need a little more support, a little more adult presence and a little more structure.
‘The volunteers clearly had excellent SEND skills and S displayed no anxiety with them, which was wonderful to see. On the way home he said ‘Everyone wanted to play with me!’ which is not something he always experiences. He is very sensitive to whether people like him or not and hearing him say this made me feel so happy for him’
ROAM can facilitate sessions in partnership with schools, held during the school day to suit the needs of the participating children. Sessions work best with mixed ages, and ideally in groups of eight to twelve. This model provides access to children who we may not otherwise reach, but who benefit particularly from free play in the natural world. The sessions are similar to the Free Roamers model, but usually last an hour, delivered weekly for an agreed period.
School leaders should contact us directly if interested.
‘It was great to see the children playing so well together and some of the children you wouldn’t expect to take the lead!’SENCO
Roam: Outdoor Playgroups
These sessions were set up directly in response to the disproportionate impact felt by many families of young children during the Coronavirus lockdown. Parents reported a signficant reduction in play opportunities; both during lockdown and as a result of new restrictions on indoor activities. Parents of young children reported feeling more isolated from peer support networks too.
The sessions provide all the variety of a playgroup in a secure parkland setting, with rich opportunities for outdoor play and a chance to meet other parents, ensuring that both children and their carers can benefit from the fresh air and social connections.
‘Lovely session, warm welcome, thank you. Fabulous free play and great materials, my little one loved it. Much needed free outdoor activity and opportunity to socialise.’