What is Forest School?
Forest School aims to emulate the activities that you probably remember from your childhood. That is the experience we want children and young people to have at Forest School. Forest School provides an inspirational experience for the child that they would not get elsewhere. Free play and exploration outdoors in a supported environment with trained leaders is one of the best ways for children to learn and grow.
Forest Schools originated in Europe in the early 20th century as a way of teaching about the natural world. Introduced to the UK in 1993 the idea has grown and Forest Schools are spreading throughout Britain. The Forest School approach is a unique way to deliver Outdoor Learning and increasing numbers of teachers and school support staff are being trained in Forest School practice across a range of schools.
A Forest School is a secure area of woodland which acts as an outdoor classroom where children can explore, investigate and discover the natural environment. Forest School provides an excellent opportunity to bring learning to life, allowing the children to explore and learn in a constructive way. Forest School aims to support the whole child – their physical, mental and emotional development. Forest Schools build on a child’s innate motivation and positive attitude to learning, offering them the opportunities to take risks, make choices and initiate learning for themselves.
The Forest School learning environment provides opportunities for children to:
- develop self-esteem and self-confidence
- form positive relationships with others
- develop a growing awareness of their emotional needs and the needs of others
- learn to cooperate and work with their peers and adults
- develop strategies in order to take risks within the boundaries of safety
Forest School is about exploring and experiencing the natural world through practical activities. The children go out in all weathers (except thunderstorms and high winds), all year round, exploring and learning from the seasons and environment changes.
Many teachers and parents notice how these benefits and transferrable skills, are carried through to work in the classroom and to family life at home.
The work we carry out during Forest School is linked to classroom work and these cross curricular links are important to build children’s transferable shills. Examples of linked themes and activities are mud treasure hunts during the Pirate class theme and using fairy doors during the theme of Traditional Tales.
Staying warm and dry will make all the difference to your child’s experience of Forest School. Believe it or not, our changeable weather offers a rich variety of experiences and challenges outdoors. Forest School can take place in most weathers and all seasons! Your child will need removable layers, as getting active at Forest School means everyone warms up quickly. Children must always wear a long sleeved top and long trousers even in summer to protect arms and legs from brambles and nettles. We ask all parents to provide a pair of wellies to be left in school. Depending on weather children will need warm hats and gloves or sun hats.
Children will need these items every week for their Forest School sessions. Children do need these items to take part.
- Wellington boots
- Warm Socks
- A warm waterproof coat
- An old jumper or fleece
- An old long sleeved t-shirt
- Old long trousers
Please note old clothes are preferred as children will get muddy!
Forest School Research
Oldland Parish Council have undertaken a Positive Activity Survey exploring activities children like to engage in outside of school time. This research was commissioned by Steve Skidmore and Emma Pallant to give young people a voice and make sense of what can be done to encourage and support young people’s engagement in out of school learning. It was very inspiring to read that out of 5 local primary schools pupils at Parkwall Primary particularly enjoy the theme of Nature, Environment, Conservation and Wildlife outside of school. We are so pleased that our Forest School curriculum is reflecting children’s out of school interests and we look forward to expanding this area of our curriculum.
Cadbury Heath Nature Play
There is a new local pre school group at Cadbury Heath Nature Garden (located between the library and hall) meeting every Thursday during term time 9.30-11am This is an opportunity to spend some time outdoors with your toddler in a safe, natural environment. Each week offers crafts, games, storytelling and singing all led by a qualified Forest School leader. Pick up a leaflet from the foyer or pop along to find out more.