What is Forests Schools?
Forest Schools has developed from the Scandinavian education system and is about children and young people building self esteem and independence through exploring and experiencing the natural world. Forest Schools is a long term, repetitive programme delivered by qualified Level 3 Practitioners. Each Forest School programme is tailored to meet the needs of individuals within that group and is continuously developed as the children/young people grow in confidence, skills and understanding.
The ethos of Forest Schools allows learners the time and space to develop skills, interests and understanding through practical, hands-on experiences. It also allows practitioners to step back and observe the children/young people in order to then encourage and inspire individuals to achieve through careful scaffolding and facilitating.
What will my child be doing?
The Forest School routine will vary depending on the site, however it will include; preparing to go out by dressing in outdoor clothes such as waterproofs; travelling to the site; singing special songs and sharing stories. Forest Schools will run all year round and in all weathers (unless weather conditions are dangerous). The child led ethos of Forest Schools means that once at the site the children can choose what to participate in, carefully supported and encouraged by trained adults.
Sessions are planned around the individual’s and group’s needs, and built upon each week. All Forest School Leaders are qualified through nationally recognised and accredited training, therefore ensuring Forest Schools is a high quality learning experience. The earlier sessions will concentrate on safety; establishing boundaries and routines. As the children develop in confidence and familiarity with the environment the sessions focus on the development and consolidation of skills and understanding.
What benefits will my child get from participating in Forest Schools?
Forest Schools supports the holistic development of the child:
- Health and fitness – Being active in an outdoor, natural environment.
- Increased emotional wellbeing – There is research available supporting this.
- Social development – Communicating, and negotiating with peers and adults to solve problems and share experiences.
- Skills development – Developing fine and gross motor skills and coordination for real purposes.
- Gaining knowledge and understanding – Multi–sensory, real-life learning.
- Individualised learning – Careful observation allows adults to tailor support to children’s own interests and stage of development.
- Curriculum Links – Forest Schools supports many areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage framework, National Curriculum and the Every Child Matters agenda.
Health and Safety
The health and safety of all participants is central to everything done within a Forest Schools programme. Forest School leaders are fully trained in risk assessment and emergency outdoor first aid. Every Forest School will have; a Health and Safety policy; a seasonally and daily risk assessed site; risk assessments for activities; trained adult helpers; first aid and emergency equipment. Some of the activities the children may participate in are ‘higher-risk activities’ (such as campfire cooking or tool use). However, these activities are not available to the children until certain behaviours and boundaries are established. Children are encouraged and supported in recognising and managing risk for themselves, through real life situations and experiences.
To find out more please get in touch of have a look at the Forest School Association website.