What is Forest School?
Forest School is a child-centred inspirational learning process that offers opportunities for holistic growth through regular sessions. It is a long-term program that supports play, exploration and supported risk taking. It develops confidence and self-esteem through learner inspired, hands-on experiences in a natural setting Forest school programmes aim to develop the physical, social, cognitive, linguistic, emotional and spiritual aspects of the learner.
https://forestschoolassociation.org/what-is-forest-school/ (You tube link)
Forest School at Hayes
At Hayes, we are lucky enough to have access to a designated Forest School site in Primley Woods which is in walking distance from the school. This site has been developed by our staff alongside the Ranger of Primley Woods. It is used every week by all children in EYFS. Our staff are qualified in Forest School Learning so we are able to lead the children and provide exciting and safe activities.These may include: den building, tree climbing, role play in the mud kitchen, minibeast exploring and activities linked to the season. In Forest School, we aim for the children to use all of their senses therefore listening games, blind trails and bark rubbing are important for the children to appreciate to gain a sense of the world around them. The children are encouraged to appreciate their environment and learn to respect the homes of the animals that live on the site. The children gain independence by having a free run of the site, enabling them to explore and gain confidence, as they take risks, at their own level and pace. We always have lots of smiling faces at Forest School and it really is an activity that is enjoyed by all.
Each week the children are introduced to a rich vocabulary during the Forest School session. They are encouraged to discuss what they see, hear and feel and talk about how they feel in the woods.
Forest School and the Hayes Values
Responsibility - The children will learn to be responsible at forest school so that they manage risk for themselves. We involve the children in planning, have clear guidelines on use of tools and encourage them to care for themselves, each other and the environment.
Success - The children involved in weekly Forest School sessions build on a wide range of skills and thoroughly enjoy the experiences as they gain more confidence throughout their time in the woods. The children's successes are celebrated within the sessions and during the Be All You Can Be assembly to enable all children to be proud of their successes and to blossom within the Forest School environment.
Aspirations - The philosophy of Forest School is to encourage and inspire the children through positive experiences and participation in engaging, motivating and achievable activities. Taking part in these activities outside helps children to develop a connection and respect for the natural world, promoting both physical and mental health.
Resilience - Resilience develops when the children try new skills and don’t achieve the required result immediately. As children participate in weekly forest school their resilience will grow, they will learn that practice makes perfect and it is ok to make mistakes, and we try and test new ideas. Resilience forms part of the wider intra personal skills and develops their ability to adapt to change or stressful situations successfully, in a healthy and constructive manner.
Discovery - Forest School is a long-term process of regular sessions, rather than a one-off or infrequent visits so that children can discover the changing elements of their forest School environment over the year of different seasons. This allows them to experience the changes that the trees, plants and animals go through each time of the year and what we can do to sustain healthy growth within the woods.
Friendship - The children will work together for most activities at their Forest School sessions and it is of utmost importance that they have good communication and teamwork. The children will work collaboratively to carry out tasks and understand the importance of keeping themselves and others safe. This can build on friendships as they learn to trust and bond with others.
Outcomes for Forest School - It helps children to become healthy, resilient, creative and independent learners. There is a lot of research to support the outcomes of Forest School and we know that it isn’t just the educational outcomes and research that matter, it is the love of being outside too!