What is Forest Schools?
Forest Schools originated in Denmark in the 1950s, and is based on the principle that children of all ages can benefit greatly from the learning opportunities inherently present in a woodland environment.
In the early 1990s the idea was brought to Somerset by Bridgewater College and its Nursery, and was very successful. Some Local Authorities such as Oxfordshire started to use some ideas in 1990s and it has spread! We have had a programme in operation here at The Grove since 1999, first with Early Years, and now with all of our classes.
Forest Schools provides opportunities in an outdoor setting for children to develop a variety of skills: particularly PSHE skills such as independence, self discovery, communication, self esteem and confidence building. Children learn to take risks, use their initiatives and co-operate. Beyond this, teachers can use the outdoor environment as a vehicle for art activities, key science concepts, developing physical skills and a whole lot more!
As a famous educator of small children Margaret McMillan once said, ‘the best classroom and the richest cupboard are roofed only by the sky’.
In a typical session there may be an adult led activity, but the ethos of Forest Schools also allows time for children to follow their own learning pathways and interests and adults then support them in their learning
What do we do?
Every time we go to the woods, then children engage in some or all of the following:
Staff undertake a site risk assessment, and where appropriate an activity risk assessment. There are systems in place for first aid and staff have clear processes to follow should there be any kind of emergency.
Adult led activities might include:
Mud pies and tree spirits
Climbing low level branches
Looking at nature, and representing changes in some way
Camouflage – colour and shape
Any questions, please ask!