What is Forest School?
Forest School is defined as: ‘An inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults regular opportunities to achieve, develop confidence and self-esteem, through hands-on learning experiences in a local woodland environment.’ (Forest School Initiative 2005a)
Forest School started in Denmark and Scandinavia, where the ‘open-air’ culture (the ‘frulitsliv’) is a way of life. Forest School is the name of the approach to educating children in the outdoors, allowing them the opportunity to get close to nature and explore their surroundings. Children are given the opportunity to take part in carefully planned activities but are also given the opportunity to direct their own learning through child-led play. They are encouraged to take risks in a safe environment, where they supervised at all times by a fully qualified member of staff and other staff members.
Why is Forest School good for my child?
Forest School helps children develop skills such as:
Children are able to practice literacy and numeracy skills, alongside creative and practical skills. They also develop their listening and speaking skills by following instructions and feeding back information to the group. Each Forest School session is designed to meet the needs of the specific age group.
What happens during Forest School?
Children get changed in their classroom for Forest School and then are taken over to the Forest School area, ensuring that all children are accounted for.
Each session begins around base camp (a circle of logs around our camp fire), where we go through our health and safety rules. We then talk about changes in the area and talk about the potential risks (fallen branches/holes).
Activities for the session are explained, which may be linked to the seasons or the curriculum. Sometimes we have parents or friends of the school come in and demonstrate outdoor skills and crafts.
The children are then given the opportunity to choose an activity or free play, which may involve role play, mud kitchen or den building.
Children then return to base camp to reflect on the session with the rest of the group.
Children will need appropriate clothing for the environment as well as the weather. This means children will need to wear long sleeve tops and trousers all year round. The only time we do not go outside for Forest School is in strong winds or thunder and lightning. We work on the principle that ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing’.
For cold weather
Hats and gloves
Jumper or fleece
Long sleeve top & bottoms
Wellingtons or walking boots
Waterproof trousers and/or coat
For hot weather
No shorts or short sleeves (long sleeved top & bottoms)
Sun protection cream
Forest School rules
Treat our Forest School with respect
Respect our peers
No pick, no lick
Stop at the boundary
Leave Forest School how we found it
What can you do?
Please ensure your child has the appropriate clothing and talk about what the children have done during the session. Children may also learn new skills in Forest School that they would like to carry on at home.