Forest School is an innovative approach to learning outside that offers children regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence through hands-on learning in a woodland environment. Originating in Scandinavia, Forest School is instrumental in improved physical development, raised self-esteem and better social awareness quite apart from the cognitive benefits – all in all it can be a transformational experience and one which pupils love.
Reception teacher Miss Lydia, who is a trained Forest School Leader says that they are lucky to have two ideal destinations nearby. “Nursery and Reception classes have Forest School sessions twice every half term in either Richmond Park or on Wimbledon Common. These sessions are run by members of staff who are Forest School trained. The outings are a time for the children and staff to enjoy the outdoors together come rain or shine! The activities vary from simply enjoying a rainy day by splashing in puddles together, building up their confidence and resilience by climbing on fallen trees and logs to making a detailed pattern with natural objects based on the work of British sculptor, photographer and environmentalist Andy Goldsworthy.”
Among the key benefits of Forest School is that learning is linked to our curriculum and Foundation Stage objectives. Evidence shows that Forest School positively impacts on children in terms of confidence, social skills, language and communication, motivation and concentration, physical skills, and knowledge and understanding. Pupils will share their experiences, telling family and friends what they have learned in the field. The Forest School setting itself is a useful formative evaluation tool for teachers to understand and assess a child’s skills and abilities.
“Forest School is such a valuable experience for all children. It is so wonderful to see children who are sometimes nervous or shy in the classroom, get their hands dirty and come out of their shell during Forest School sessions. The children thrive in the outdoors and they are always so happy with big smiles on their faces!” says Reception Teacher & Pupil Voice Coordinator Miss Kate.
Miss Lydia concludes, “The outdoor environment is very liberating for children. Forest School is a wonderful opportunity to allow children to be children and be at one with nature. Being half Dutch, I was brought up with nature as a huge part of my upbringing, so I feel very privileged to teach children to enjoy nature the way I did growing up!”