What is Forest School?
Forest School is a form of child-led outdoor learning which usually takes place in a woodland environment. Forest School views participants as valued, equal and unique just like St John's and St Chrysostom's do. It's an ethos that encourages children to follow their curiosity to develop learning opportunities collaboratively to develop their confidence and social communication skills. It is often an inspirational process that promotes positive relationships with both people and the environment.
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 Forest School Leader suggests activities linked to the class curriculum or theme in nature but children may also follow their own agenda while supervised. 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 open with a safety talk and close with a log circle reflection. Children may join in activities such as sitting by the fire, whittling sticks, climbing trees, collecting things, studying wildlife, listening to the birds, building dens and enjoying the mid kitchen. Later in the sessions older children may cook on the fire and learn to use tools to manage the woodland.
Benefits of Forest School
Physical - Children have the space and freedom for physical movement which develops their gross motor skills. It increases health outcomes including, bone density and vitamin D production. Physical stamina is improved.
Self-Esteem - Forest School promotes self-esteem as children never fail during these sessions. Children have freedom, time and space to learn.
Social skills - Whilst playing, communication, teambuilding and language skills are developed. Children have increasing awareness of the consequences of their actions.
Risks - 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.
Behaviour - 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.
Independence - From putting on waterproofs to whittling a stick - sessions promote independence and creative problem solving.
Communication - The wood provides multi-sensory experiences and this develops children’s language skills and vocabulary.
Natural Environment - Children learn to appreciate, respect and care for the environment and understand the seasons and world around them.
Forest School at St John Chrysostom’s Federation
This term we welcomed Miss Millward to our staff team. She is a level 3 Forest School Leader who brings with her lots of experience working with children, young people and families. Miss Millward will be developing our Forest School provision based at St Chrysostom’s which includes a small wooded area, playing field and outdoor classrooms. We will be focusing on introducing Nursery, Reception and Year 1 children from both St John’s and St Chrysostom’s to regular Forest School sessions.
You may also find the Forest School Association (FSA) website of interest www.forestschoolassociation.org