What is Forest School?
Children who go to Forest School regularly visit a marked-out area of woodland which has been specially set aside for their group. This usually involves a trip either walking or by minibus to the woods. Once children get to Forest School they are free to participate in activities suggested by staff as well as undertake their own exploring. The session will usually include time for a drink and a snack and a chance to share all the exciting things they have done.
Forest Schools are a unique way of building independence and self esteem in young children. They originated in Scandinavia in the 1950’s and focused on teaching children about the natural world. From here the idea was brought to Bridgwater College, Somerset, in 1995 and has spread throughout the UK since.
In Oxfordshire, Forest Schools use the outdoor environment to support children’s learning across the whole curriculum, using learning and teaching strategies which foster and develop confidence and self esteem. It has been found that the combination of freedom and responsibility has been particularly beneficial to children who, for whatever reason, struggle within a conventional classroom environment, or who exhibit challenging behaviour.
The experience is fun, and the learning which occurs is observed and recorded in a similar way to the learning which occurs in school. The children splash about in puddles, roll in the leaves and because of the high adult/child ratios, they can safely experience types of activities that are so often prohibited, such as climbing trees or cooking on fires
Outcomes for Children after Forest School experiences are improved
- Improved Personal confidence and self esteem
- Improved Social Skills
- Improved Motivation and Concentration
- Improved Language and Communication
- Improved Physical Skills
- Improved Knowledge, Awareness and respect for the environment
Ideally, children will attend Forest School sessions at least once a fortnight, throughout the year, and although this isn’t a specific environmental educational programme, they will experience all weathers and seasons and develop a deeper understanding about the natural world along the way.
After every Forest School visit, the site is left in its natural state. The area is checked regularly for any environmental damage and if necessary the site will be moved, so the area can recover.