What is a Forest School?
Forest schools are a type of outdoor education in which children visit forests/woodlands, learning personal, social and technical skills. It 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.
Forest schools use the woods and forests as a means to build independence and self-esteem in school-age children. Topics are cross-curriculum (broad in subject) including the natural environment, for example the role of trees in society, the complex ecosystem supported by a wilderness, and recognition of specific plants and animals. However, the personal skills are considered highly valuable, such as teamwork and problem solving. The woodland environment may be used to learn about more abstract concepts such as mathematics and communication.
What do the children do?
Children become familiar with the wood and routines. They learn they are safe—physically, mentally and emotionally.
Children have the time and space for play that is child-initiated and child led. The leader suggests activities but children can follow their own agenda. Natural resources are used together with the children’s interests to stimulate imaginative, creative and investigative activities. These activities help children to take risks safely and be responsible, take care of themselves and others. The sessions have structure and there is a break for a shared snack sitting in the log circle when there is time to reflect. Children learn to use tools for a purpose. They may whittle sticks, climb trees, collect things, study wildlife, listen to the birds, build dens and help light fires. Later in the sessions they may cook on the fire.
How do Forest School sessions benefit the children?
Children have the space and freedom for physical movement which helps in the modern day fight against obesity. It increases bone density and vitamin D production. Physical stamina is improved.
Forest School promotes self esteem as children never fail during these sessions. Children have freedom, time and space to learn.
Whilst playing, communication, teambuilding and language skills are developed. Children have increasing awareness of the consequences of their actions.
Children can take risks within a secure environment. When children are exposed to acceptable levels of risk they are less likely to make bad judgements in the future.
Being in the wood has a calming influence on the brain. Recent research indicates that children’s behaviour is improved both in the forest and back in the classroom.
From putting on waterproofs to whittling a stick— sessions promote independence.
The wood provides multi-sensory experiences and this develops children’s language.
Children learn to appreciate, respect and care for the environment and hopefully secure its future.
Our Forest School
We have a site on our school grounds where Hedgehog class enjoy weeky sessions and Bee class fortnightly sessions. We also visit Little Bendysh Wood in Radwinter. This in an ancient wood accessed from Bendysh Hall. Children enjoy half day and full day sessions. We do ask that parents provide transport. The children arrive dressed in appropriate clothing, for the weather of the day. Mrs Hibbs is our Forest School Leader with Mrs. Hockley and Mrs Henderson also holding level 3 Forest Leader’s Certificates. The adult child ratio for Forest School is 1:4. Everyone meets at the farm and then walks the short way to our site in the wood.
The support of parents is vital. Parental consent will be obtained if children are travelling with other parents and correct car insurance and driving licences have been checked by the office. All adults helping have a current DBScheck.