Forest School - what is it?
Within our newly created Forest School initiative, children develop their teamwork skills and learn to become more independent which in turn boosts emotional and mental wellbeing. Children can develop a greater interest in and understanding of their natural surroundings and gain more respect for the environment which can form the basis of a lifelong relationship with natural spaces.
Children gain an increased awareness of the consequences of their actions and their language is developed through sensory experiences. The environment engages the children to such an extent that they are keen to participate and are able to concentrate over longer periods of time.
They take part in activities such as den building, making clay trolls, and building and lighting campfires safely, which increase physical strength and dexterity. Using and playing with objects that naturally occur in the environment helps to develop gross and fine motor skills, alongside a general development of physical stamina.
Forest School - how do people feel about it?
Our Forest School started in May 2018 and we've already seen the positive impact that it's having on our children. One girl said she wishes she "could go to Forest School every day."
When our headteacher asked one of the children what he liked about it, he said "Everything! Learning outside is brilliant!"
Adults involved are learning new skills too and would like others to have the same experience.
An outdoor classroom will facilitate our children to benefit from the outdoor environment all year round. During the recent adverse weather conditions, including intense sunshine and high winds, access to the Forest School has been limited. Having access to an outdoor classroom would give us the shade and shelter that we need as well as the opportunity to allow other children to access the outdoor environment. Our children who have additional needs sometimes require a quiet area as a safe place; to be able to access the quietness of the natural environment helps them in building their resilience and supporting sensory needs.
Having an outdoor classroom will also enable us to extend use of the Forest School facilities to evenings and weekends, involving the whole family and community in activities provided by the Forest School leader with a team of staff and volunteers. We hope to provide seasonal activities at little or no cost that families and other community members would not have the opportunity to access elsewhere in the local area. This will promote social skills, family bonds and community cohesion.
The outdoor classroom we hope to build is modern and eco-friendly and can be used all year round with minimal heating.