Think of schools and images of sitting at desks, walking up sticky, airless corridors and cramming into crowded halls for assemblies spring to mind.
But it doesn’t have to be this way
Forest School is a new approach to learning being adopted by more and more schools across the UK. Essentially during one lesson a week the "forest" becomes the classroom and the children learn from and in the great outdoors
We met recently with Claire, a mother of two, living in a pretty market town surrounded by rolling English countryside. Claire is a qualified Forest School leader working with local schools to develop Forest School sites and offer pupils a weekly forest school session. We asked her to tell us a little more about it.........
What are the benefits of Forest School?
- Having the freedom to explore an outdoor space where there is no right or wrong way of doing things helps children think creatively.
- It allows children to share ideas and tasks and so develop their communication skills, empathy and understanding of how to work together to achieve positive results.
- It will instil a sense of ownership of their forest space which will foster a sense of responsibility, independence and their wider community.
- It allows children to identify the challenges and risks in the outdoor space and to make sensible decisions when dealing with activities involving risk such as cooking on an open fire or using tools.
- It helps them understand and appreciate the boundaries that are in place as a means of staying safe
- It also encourages children to be reflective of their feelings and consider how they can pursue their learning, given different opportunities.
What do the children do at Forest School ?
- Den and shelter building,
- Mud painting,
- Cooking on open fires,
- Sharing stories
- Playing forest games.
Each session ends with a mug of hot chocolate and a biscuit which the children seem to enjoy.
Why is Forest School being introduced into schools in the UK?
The Forest School approach has steadily gained popularity with educational leaders since its introduction to the UK in the mid nineties. Its philosophy, to encourage and inspire people through positive outdoor experiences, is based on a Scandinavian model. Studies on Scandinavian children attending kindergarten forest schools found them to be happier, more socially able and more able to concentrate than those attending urban kindergartens.
Claire firmly believes that “Forest School provides motivational and nurturing outdoor learning opportunities to children in schools which will stimulate their curiosity, spark their imagination and enhance their confidence, independence and social skills".
What do you think about Forest School?
Should it be part of every school curriculum or not?
Are you keen for your children to experience forest school?
Interested in finding out more about becoming a Forest School Leader?
Check out this website for more information http://www.forestschools.com/index.php
You can contact Claire at firstname.lastname@example.org