“Forest School is an inspirational process that offers children and young people opportunities to achieve, develop confidence and self esteem, through hands on learning experiences in a local woodland environment.”
National definition: by Forest School (England) Network
Forest Schools has developed from the Scandinavian education system and is about children and young people building self esteem and independence through exploring and experiencing the natural world. Forest Schools is a long term programme delivered by trained practitioners within a natural environment (not necessarily a Forest!). Each Forest School programme is tailored to meet the needs of individuals within that group and is continuously developed as the children/young people grow in confidence, skills and understanding.
The ethos of Forest Schools allows learners the time and space to develop skills, interests and understanding through practical, hands- on experiences.
Why is Forest School such a great opportunity for your children?
1.It is proven from research that learning which takes place in the outdoors is much more powerful and memorable as all the senses are involved.
2. Forest Schools develop children through a child led approach.
3. Children are taught how to assess risks for themselves.
4. Children are able to develop their speech, language, social skills and empathy.
5.They learn to respect and appreciate nature.
What will my child be doing? The Forest School routine varies, however it will include; preparing to go out by dressing in outdoor clothes such as waterproofs; travelling to the site; singing special songs and sharing stories. Our Forest School will run all year round and in all weathers (unless weather conditions are dangerous).
The child led ethos of Forest Schools means that once at the site the children can choose what to participate in, carefully supported and encouraged by trained adults. Possible activities may include:
· Hunting for minibeasts and/or pond dipping
· Natural crafts – making animal homes, making crowns or dreamcatchers from willow, collages from natural materials, weaving with long grasses, tree cookies, etc
· Playing games
· Mud sculptures
· Shelter building and knot tying
· Tree climbing
· Using tools for a purpose – such as peeling bark from sticks with potato peelers to make toasting forks.
Sessions are planned around the children's needs, and built upon each week..
Forest Schools is a high quality learning experience. The earlier sessions will concentrate on safety; establishing boundaries and routines. As the children develop in confidence and familiarity with the environment the sessions focus on the development and consolidation.
Typical Forest School Session
The journey. Children walk to the site
Arrival. The group sit in a circle, deep breathe relax and sing our forest school song etc.
Activity discussion. The leader discusses optional activities and related safety rules for the day. (May include tool-use instruction.)
Activity choice – the children choose either the recommended activity for the day or an activity from the borrow bag.
Snack break. At an appropriate point during the session, we have a snack and drink.
Possible continuation of activities
Reflection at the circle for conclusion.
The journey back. Children return equipment and help to leave the site in the manner they found it before returning to school.
What benefits will my child get from participating in Forest Schools?
Forest Schools supports the holistic development of the child:
• Health and fitness – Being active in an outdoor, natural environment.
• Increased emotional wellbeing – There is research available supporting this.
• Social development – Communicating, and negotiating with peers and adults to solve problems and share experiences.
• Skills development – Developing fine and gross motor skills and coordination for real purposes.
• Gaining knowledge and understanding – Multi–sensory, real-life learning.
• Individualised learning – Careful observation allows adults to tailor support to children’s own interests and stage of development.