What is Forest School?
The roots of Forest School reach back to the Scandinavian education system. It arrived in the UK in 1993 and has grown from strength to strength since then. Forest School is about children and young people building self-esteem and independence through exploring and experiencing the natural world.
Forest School is a long-term programme delivered by trained practitioners within the natural environment. Each Forest School programme is tailored to meet the needs of individuals within that group and is continuously developed as the children grow in confidence, skills and understanding.
The ethos of Forest School allows learners the time and space to develop skills, interests and understanding through practical, hands-on experiences. It also allows practitioners to step back and observe the children in order to then encourage and inspire individuals to achieve through careful scaffolding and facilitating.
What will my child do at Forest School?
The Forest School routine includes: preparing to go outside to our onsite basecamp by dressing in outdoor clothes such as waterproofs; singing special songs and sharing stories. Forest School will run all year round in all weathers (unless weather conditions are dangerous). The child-led ethos of Forest School means that once at the site children can largely choose what to participate in, carefully supported and encouraged by trained adults. Possible activities may include:
- Hunting for mini-beasts.
- Natural crafts – e.g. collages from natural materials.
- Mud sculptures and paintings.
- Helping to care for our school chickens.
- Shelter building and knot tying.
- Using tools for a purpose – such as peeling bark from sticks with potato peelers to make toasting forks.
- Fire building and cooking on a campfire.
Sessions are planned around the individual group’s needs, and built on each week. All Forest School Leaders are qualified through nationally recognised and accredited training, therefore ensuring Forest School 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 of skills and understanding.
What benefits will my child get from participating in Forest School?
Forest School supports the holistic development of the child:
- Health and fitness – Being active in an outdoor, natural environment.
- Increased emotional well-being – there is research available which supports this.
- Social development – Communicating, and negotiating with peers and adults to solve problems and share experiences.
- Skills development – Developing fine motor skills and co-ordination 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.
- Curriculum links – Forest School supports many areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage framework and National Curriculum.