What is a forest school?
Forest School aims to connect people with wild places and awaken their curiosity. Children have a right to play, access the outdoors and experience the vibrancy of the natural world for themselves. Children can be inquisitive, following their interests and directing their own learning in a safe, engaging environment, facilitated by Forest School leaders. It opens doors to the natural world and all it encompasses, providing a unique experience for each child – nurturing their specific needs and zest for learning.
Confidence, self-esteem and independence are encouraged through a hands-on approach and creative, engaging activities. Opportunities to socialise with peers and solve problems enable children to build resilience and experience a healthy range of emotions. In their own time, children can experiment, take risks, make decisions and explore the possibilities. Through a holistic approach, every child can play, reach their potential and experience positive wellbeing.
Where does the idea come from?
Forest schools originated in Sweden during the 1950s and was a way of teaching children about the natural world. The idea was adopted by Denmark as an important part of early years provision. The concept was introduced to Britain in 1995 by Bridgwater College.
What is it like at a forest school?
A forest school group explores a local woodland on a regular basis, typically ten visits over ten weeks. During that time the group will get to grips with all sorts of woodland activities that will help to build an understanding and appreciation of the woodland. The base is central to all that happens at forest school. The base is the focal point for discussing the day's activities and a place for socialising.
The activities are always hands-on and will often require the use of tools such as bow saws and fixed blade knives. As a group becomes more comfortable with living and working in the woodland the programme becomes more learner led, a journey of discovery directed by the participants. Regular visits to the woodland site provide plenty of opportunity for discussion about, and observation of the natural world.