What is Forest School?
‘Forest school’ is outdoor, nature-based learning that focuses on the holistic development of the child. In ‘Forest school’, activities are provided, but rather than being adult-led, each child chooses and tailors the activity to suit them, while we observe their preferences and development. You flow with the session and follow what children want to do.
Lots of schools arrange occasional outdoor activities for pupils, but ‘Forest school’ is a regular long term process rather than a one-off session.
‘Forest school’ is child-centred with a high adult to child ratio. Observation, rather than direction, is key and children learn to care for the natural environment through their activities.
The benefits of Forest school
‘Forest school’ helps children develop many skills that are hard to teach in the classroom. It is very physical so it encourages children to be active, with lots of activities to develop both fine and gross motor skills.
Children learn to assess, appreciate and take risks, making their own decisions about how to tackle the activities and experiences they come across. The children learn to be self-sufficient and take care of themselves, which boosts their confidence and self-esteem. Through trial and error they learn to deal with failure and develop the resilience to keep trying: a vital skill in the classroom as well as outside.
Forest school ties in with many areas of the National Curriculum. For example, being outdoors year-round helps children learn about weather and the seasons, which are part of the programme of study in geography, whilst studying mini beasts and plant life relates to the science curriculum, and working on tasks like den building and woodwork links with design and technology.
Children also benefit from simply being outdoors. Research has shown that it improves mental and spiritual health, communication skills and social relationships, among other things. ‘Connecting with nature helps children feel part of the world.’ Just being outside in nature is calming, and you can see that reflected in how the children behave.
Forest school activities
Because Forest school learning is child-directed, the scope of the activities that can take place is enormous. Typical activities include:
Keeping children safe
Although children are encouraged to assess risk for themselves, this is always with close adult guidance. Before an activity, we’ll sit in a circle and talk about how the children think they can stay safe. We do a lot of safety talks before they use any tools, and supervise one to one with certain tool use e.g. knives. Adults will then observe and tailor the activity to the Child’s ability.’
The aim at forest school is to focus on supporting the holistic development of the child.
The areas focused on are:-
Developing these areas will help the children achieve and feel happier in the classroom environment.
Each child taking part in forest school will be offered one afternoon a week for half a term (6 weeks). The group size will be a maximum of 12 with 2 adults.
Children that will be offered a place may display:-