For us, Forest School epitomises child learning. Entering the forest is like going on a journey - different every time.
The unique location of the School surrounded by the Hurtwood Forest, fields and farmland means that we are able to make the most of our environment to enrich children’s learning experiences. Forest School plays an important part in our curriculum and underpins every aspect of our curriculum intent. It epitomises our bottom-up, rather than top-down, approach to child development, building strong foundations for mental and physical health and well-being.
For us Forest School epitomises child-led learning. Entering the forest is like going on a journey, every time a child enters the woods the experience is different, depending on their emotions, the weather and the season. One thing is guaranteed, and that is the sense of calm and well-being of all the children by the end of the session.
Learning outdoors frees children up to learn without the constraints of classroom walls; it helps them build personal and social skills as they collaborate together and become problem solvers and critical thinkers. It connects children to the local environment where they learn scientifically about habitats and ecosystems and how to look after and respect the natural world.
There is lots of space to explore and learn about the many different types of trees, shrubs and wildlife. Trees of all shapes and sizes are perfect for climbing, swinging and balancing. Dens are built to share with friends or hide away in. Gnarly and twisted
Rhododendrons only the most agile bodies can crawl through. Children can find space to be on their own and reflect on their feelings if they want to.
Forest School learning has a number of key principles. Importantly, it should take place regularly, in the same area for a sustained period, so that the children have plenty of opportunity to explore and connect to their surroundings and, in a way, that gives children the confidence to take risks as they explore and learn about the environment around them.
MAIN PRINCIPLES OF FOREST SCHOOL LEARNING
Forest School is a very holistic way of learning. Learning takes place subtly and affects all areas of child development from language skills, as children learn to listen to each other's ideas; to negotiation and taking turns; to creativity and imagination skills as they learn how to use their natural surroundings to invent and create. Physical development of gross- and fine-motor skills, through digging, climbing, balancing, weaving, collecting and making, also come to the fore as well as learning specific skills like how to handle tools for whittling, sawing and tying ropes. Lastly, and probably most important of all, children learn about the environment: to respect and use it so that others may enjoy it after we’ve left.