Forest schools originated in Scandinavia and were adopted in Britain in the 1990’s.
But what exactly is a Forest School?
Forest School embraces the outdoors as an inspirational learning environment focused on the child’s learning needs rather than specific outcomes. A Forest School is a unique way of building confidence and self-esteem, learning new life skills and promoting independence, through hands on learning experiences. It allows groups of children to explore and experience the natural world, on a regular and sustained basis.
Children will enjoy taking part in activities such as splashing in puddles, rolling in leaves, catching rain on a tarpaulin, building a snow slide, leaving dry mud out in the sun until it cracks, sliding down a mud slide, making mud pies, looking for worms and insects, painting on a leaf, shelter building, natural arts and crafts and much, much more.
Groups and individuals are often much more relaxed in a woodland environment (after the initial excitement/novelty has reduced). Woodlands are a fantastic learning environment: resource-rich, sheltered, challenging yet safe. Woods are often close to local communities, and forever changing. Changes happen throughout the year daily, weekly, seasonally and even change during the session providing children with a wealth of first-hand knowledge about how our world works. The woods provide a challenging, comfortable and exciting place to learn.
As today’s society has limited children’s risk taking, Forest Schools can provide children with opportunities to take reasonable risks alongside fully trained Forest School leaders. Research has shown that children need to be able to analyse and manage risks to enable them to develop an understanding of danger. Risks for children to negotiate might include, walking on un-even terrain, negotiating space around nettles/brambles, balancing along logs and using tools such as vegetable peelers to whittle.
Forest Schools are much more than children just playing outside. Engaging children with the outdoors can help the children build the foundations for successful learning for the rest of their life.
Through Forest School sessions, children’s self-esteem, communication skills, collaboration skills and emotional intelligence (the ability to understand the emotions of themselves and others) are developed. These are all essential skills that children require in order to achieve their full potential during their education. Forest School also covers many areas of the early years curriculum allowing Foundation Stage children to have engaging opportunities to learn.
Other skills such as physical skills, knowledge and understanding of the environment, motivation and concentration are also developed during sessions. These skills will transfer back into the classroom, which in turn will aid your child with their learning.
And above all, children have the chance to have fun outside and enjoy the freedom of the outdoors in a calm and stimulating environment