What is a Forest School?

Forest School is an inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults, regular and repeated opportunities to achieve, and to develop confidence, resilience and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a local woodland environment.

Forest Schools are where children play and learn outdoors. When children learn outdoors they develop in lots of ways simultaneously and the learning they do is very secure. Minds, bodies and hearts are all exercised at once. These principles work equally well with adults too.

 

Why send children to a Forest School?

 A qualified forest school leader devises a programme of learning that is based on the children’s interests and that allows the children to build on skills at their own pace. They provide a safe woodland environment for the children to explore, embedded in routine that is established early within the program. For some, being outside seems more natural than the classroom and ‘touches something deep’ within the children.

Learning goes beyond walls.  It is practical, tangible, and kinaesthetic.

 

What benefits does a Forest School offer?

What makes forest school unique is its emphasis on learning outside of the traditional classroom and having the freedom to explore the ever changing environment, to take risks and assess risk.  Outdoor education often starts with an issue, agenda or problem for the children to investigate. Forest school is led by the child’s interests, within a loose skills framework with supportive intervention by qualified leaders.

 Each child is encouraged to explore and take risks. There is space for children to grow and develop without rules and constraints, where they can be themselves and explore their own ideas and thought process.

Above all, it can be therapeutic and fun.

 

What sorts of things happen at Forest School?

Some of the activities will always be available and some will change depending on what individuals show interest in. Activities may include:

  •       Traditional craft skills – whittling, wood working
  •       Tracking
  •       Nature connection activities – understanding and respecting the local environment
  •       Fire Lighting – in line with ‘leave no trace’ principles
  •       Camp cooking
  •       Nature and environment games
  •       Bush craft
  •       Use of field guides
  •       Storytelling

Tools are used in Forest Schools in a traditional woodland manner and are introduced gradually with a structured safety base that your children become familiar with.  The use of tools in the wood promotes trust and self- confidence within those taking part.  Their use will develop both gross and fine motor skills

The final and most important quality of Forest School provision is the fact it comes from a deep sense of wanting to genuinely influence the lives of those within them.