What is a Forest School?
The Forest School concept is all about learning and exploring in the great outdoors! It dates back to at least the 19th Century with theorists and philosophers such as Susan Isaacs and The Macmillan sisters laying the foundations for what we know as Forest Schools today. In the 1950’s Forest School was developed in Scandinavian countries such as Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway and became a fundamental part of their early years education. The Forest School concept was then introduced in the UK in 1993 by nursery nurses at Bridgwater College, Somerset who were enthused and inspired by the child centred play based pedagogy that the Danish Education system had employed.
What happens at Forest School?
Forest School sessions must be run by a qualified Forest School Leader who has gone through the relevant training to provide and deliver an exciting and stimulating Forest School programme. At Forest School we aim to encourage children to take risks; promote their self-confidence, independence and self-esteem; explore the natural world around them using their senses; be self-motivated, courageous and considerate and be inspired.
Although there are planned activities for each session, the environment and ethos of Forest Schools allow plenty of opportunities for children to self-direct their learning and choose what they would like to explore or learn more about.
The Forest School session
The Forest School programme prepares children and adults for the outdoors rather than the outdoors for them, which means we will endeavour to carry out the sessions in all weathers (apart from extremely high winds). All children will wear suitable waterproof suits provided by the school and will be expected to bring in their own wellies. All adults who take part in Forest School will also be expected to wear suitable clothing. The children will get ready prior to walking to the Forest School site and will be encouraged to dress and undress themselves.
As we walk to the site we sing a Forest School song which helps the children to become excited about the session ahead. We then sit around the log circle, play some games and then talk about the day’s activities. The children then have time to explore and complete tasks or direct their own learning. We come together at the end of the session around the log circle to reflect on what the children have done and what they would want to do next time.
Exploring the natural materials
Painting with mud