Forest Schools

Forest School creates opportunities for exploration, challenge and achievement within the natural environment.  It fosters self-belief and wellbeing and nurtures a desire to thrive and learn holistically.  It is an interactive adventure encompassing fun, awe and wonder whilst developing the mind, body and spirit to its full potential. 

Practitioners are aware that learning takes place in many forms without creating barriers.  A Forest School programme provides a unique experience of woodland exploration and non-prescribed learning; it offers individuals the opportunity to take risks and set their own challenges within a supportive environment.

These opportunities allows for holistic learning and individual development within a natural and relaxed woodland area.  The programme allows for individuals to succeed and teaches skills in a gradual and non-judgemental way.  The programme also caters for the many different styles of learning whether it be auditory, kinaesthetic or visual.  Learning will develop physical, emotional and linguistic skills by facilitating a wide range of opportunities and learning opportunities such as den building and cooking around a campfire. 

The experience of emotional and cognitive learning are intrinsically linked; a Forest school programme identifies and supports this regardless of culture or social background. 

 

Within a Forest School programme, children are offered opportunities to manage their own risks through carefully planned and sequential sessions whereby routines, boundaries and environmental awareness are established.  Week by week children get to know and understand their environment.  Forest School develops opportunities such as using tools in a safe and non-threatening way by mastering skills for handling and independent use of them.  Children are then able to make informed decisions on which tool to use for a specific purpose.

Being able to climb trees and take opportunities to explore them in detail, up close offers children the chance to negotiate a climb; observing branch structure and formation, strength and height between each branch.  By engaging with first-hand experiences this will support and consolidate self-management of risks. 

 

Working in partnership with the Bulwell Forest Community Garden, we have agreed to share the designated woodland area.  As part of the Forest School Programme we actively encourage all our children to look after our woodland.  Children will voluntarily litter pick around the site and dispose of any rubbish in a designated bin.  The children are encouraged to spot different signs of growth and are aware of trampling underfoot on new spring buds.  They are also encouraged to find spots where particular wild flowers grow such as Blue Bells and Daffodils. 

Children collect some fallen branches and debris to construct their own mini-beast habitats, they are mindful of where to place them and can revisit to observe any new life forms over time. 

Whilst children are within the woodland area they are aware of respecting natural habitats and growth of trees of which they like to climb.  They are taught how to care for growing trees by avoiding damaging branches and leaves. 

At the end of each Forrest school session spent each child takes responsibility for clearing and making good areas leaving no trace of their existence.

Play England’s Charter for Children’s Play describes play as what children and young people do when they follow their own ideas and interests in their own way and for their own reasons.  Forest School gives the time and freedom for individuals to explore and make sense of the world around them through play; building perseverance and confidence. 

Play is central to a forest School programme as it allows children freedom to explore self- chosen forms of play and adventure within a natural, ever changing environment.

Forest School allows learners to use their own initiative and work alongside others as well as to problem solve. Skills such as these help to develop empathy and respect for others.  It allows learners to develop their own interests and skills at their own pace without pressure of targets or time constraints.  Self-esteem and confidence will rise allowing the learner to further challenge themselves. Being able to self-manage feelings and behaviour will guide and support learner's to challenge their own thinking, social interactions and relationships.

Forest School offers the progressive teaching of skills in the use of tools, whereby levels of concentration, communication and co-ordination will evolve.  These skills will also help to raise self-esteem by providing a sense of purpose and achievement. Being able to regulate and control their emotions and behaviour accordingly whilst undertaking tasks with tools also allows personal emotional intelligence to grow.

Safety precautions are strictly adhered to when allowing a fire within a Forest School programme.   The ground must be cleared of any debris and leaves and the bedrock and soil should be compact and non -flammable.

Allow at least two metre distance away from the fire within the fire circle.  Make all group aware of safety procedures for entering the fire circle and exiting.  Walking in same direction and only allowing designated number into fire circle and no more than two people at any one time attending to the fire.   The ‘Respect’ position must be adhered to at all times when attending the fire.  Fire gloves should also be worn.  All clothing must be secure and tucked away.