What is Forest School?
The Forest School movement originated in Denmark. It has been an integral part of Early years education since the 1980’s when it was introduced as part of an expansion of nursery provision. Since then Forest School has been developed and is now available to all ages. It is based on the idea that young children can develop enthusiasm for education through the appreciation of nature. In Denmark, Forest schools have found to boost pupils’ confidence and improved their behaviour and social skills. Forest school is holistic learning through play and exploration, children learn about the environment, how to handle risks and use their initiative to solve problems and to co-operate with others.
The six key principles of Forest School were agreed in 2002 (Cree and McCree, 2013):
- Forest School is a long-term process of regular sessions, rather than a one-off or infrequent visits; the cycle of planning, observation, adaptation and review links each session.
- Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.
- Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.
- Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
- Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.
- Forest School uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for development and learning.
Our Forest school site is on our back field on a site that has been developed for Forest School activities and we continue to look at how we can develop this site to increase the experiences we can offer the children of Langwathby School.
The Forest School leaders at present are Mrs Julie Labbett and Mrs Holly Brown. Both leaders are Level 3 Forest School practitioners.
Through regular visits to our Forest school site every child will access learning and development within the natural world around them. Every child will succeed through inspirational, stimulating, hands on experiences, developing their self-esteem, confidence and responsibility. Langwathby School is a Forest School which hopes to enrich children’s learning through a range of activities promoting their emotional well-being, as well as teaching them many new skills such as tool use, managing their own safety, woodland structures and learning that it’s ‘ok’ to get muddy!!!
Forest School Rules
- Look after the environment
- Look after yourself
- Look after each other
- Do not pick anything growing
- Do not put your fingers or anything else in your mouth
- Stay within the boundaries marked, ’we don’t go over it' and 'we don’t go under it’
- Stay outside of the fire circle
- Look above, below and around for hazards
- HAVE FUN!
Clothing required for Forest School sessions
We ask parents to send the children to school prepared for the weather on the day of the Forest School session. Below is a list of recommended clothing for Forest School sessions.
- Wellies or walking boots
- Waterproof coat and trousers
- Hat – woolly or sun depending on the weather
- Covered legs
- Long sleeves in the summer
Activities within Forest School
- Natural art
- Den building
- Animal tracking
- Nature walks
- Climbing and balancing
- Woodwork using tools
- Creating bug hotels and bird feeders
- Fire lighting
- Using knots
- Team games
- Scavenger Hunts
- Cooking on the fire
- Problem solving
- Use tools
- Role play
- Story telling and puppets
- Woodland ID
- Mindfulness activities and reflection time
A typical Forest School session will last up to two hours. It takes 5 minutes to walk to our Forest School site from School. On sunny days, wearing a long sleeved top and long leggings/trousers will help to protect the children against ticks and sunburn. Please also make sure that all children's clothes are labelled.
Children will be asked to go to the toilet prior to leaving school. Children will walk in pairs with a staff member at the front and one at the rear. When we arrive at our site we will have a welcome session in the benched area. We will talk about how we behave in our site respecting the environment, not 'licking what we pick' and having fun. We will then gather together to share ideas for what we should do during the session, possibly building on an interest from the previous week. We will then begin our activities. We will set boundaries which gives the children the freedom to explore, whilst ensuring that the adults can see them at all times.
Children taking part in Forest School will also be encouraged to minimise their impact on the site. This will include:
- Finding out about the different animals and plants that live in and amongst the trees
- Learning to respect animals’ homes
- Careful observation of live animals
- Leaving lying deadwood in place