“Forest Schools is an inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults regular opportunities to achieve, and develop confidence through hands-on learning in a woodland environment.” (New Economics foundation 2006)
In regular sessions spread over a number of weeks, the children of year 1 take ownership of a small area of local woodland for their Forest School adventure. Early sessions use games, rhymes and repetition to encourage safety and responsible behaviour in the outdoor environment. This builds a sense of security within which the children gain confidence to explore and interact with the woodland.
The unique setting of a Forest School takes children out of the four walls of the traditional school building and gives them the opportunity to experience learning from a completely different perspective. Boys particularly are often seen to flourish at Forest School. The open space and informality of the setting allows them physical freedom, and the smaller group dynamic gives them more confidence to practise social skills.
Interestingly, boys often seem to be positively affected by the tranquillity of the woods.
Over the weeks challenges and activities will be presented designed to encourage the group to bond and to master new skills. Once they can demonstrate competence, confidence and safety awareness, higher level skills such as using tools and lighting a camp fire may be introduced, on a 1: 1 basis.
What do children gain from Forest Schools?
Woodland skills: understanding the weather and how to dress appropriately, shelter building, woodland tool expertise (whittling, cleaving, sawing, lopping),safe and controlled fire making for keeping warm and cooking.
Conservation: appreciation of wildlife in its natural habitat, identification of plants and trees, protection and preservation of local woodland, safe and comfortable interaction with nature, stewardship of their natural environment for the future.
Emotional Intelligence: research has shown that children attending a regular Forest School show improved inter/intra personal skills, empathy, motivation, self-esteem, self-regulation and confidence. (Forestry Commission/Forest Research study,2006).
Using sensory perception: visual – natural surroundings and varied lines of vision, changing colours of seasons; auditory – birds, crackling twigs, sounds of weather; kinaesthetic – navigating tree stumps/ roots/brambles, constructing from woodland materials; olfactory – wood smoke, seasonal smells ,humus of woodland floor; gustatory – eating/cooking on camp fire.
What the parents have to say…
“I have to say that since going to forest schools she asks me all sorts of questions about the countryside and we have to count all the animals and birds we see. She was also a bit upset when her turn came to an end to go to forest schools and is really looking forward to the next time she can go. Thank you so much for taking the children.”
“Forest Schools has I must admit, encouraged us to get out and about more as a family.”
“I had my reservations at first, but these were soon replaced by feelings of confidence.”
“She even tried hot chocolate, which she would never do at home!”
“He appreciates the word and meaning of teamwork now!”
“I would definitely recommend this for all the children.”
“So, as parent, can I thank you for a quite wonderful experience for my daughter at Forest Schools- it really has made a difference ….and isn’t that what being a teacher is all about!”
What the children say…
“I love Forest Schools, especially the hot chocolate and biscuit!”
“As long as there is Forest School , that is all that matters!”
“Forest Schools is fun!”
“Is it Friday yet?!”
For further information and where to buy suitable outdoor clothing: www.muddyfaces.co.uk
General information and brief history of Forest Schools: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_schools