What is Forest School?
Forest School is an inspirational process that offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees.
Forest School is a specialised learning approach that sits within and compliments the wider context of outdoor and woodland education.
At Forest School all participants are viewed as:
• equal, unique and valuable
• competent to explore & discover
• entitled to experience appropriate risk and challenge
• entitled to choose, and to initiate and drive their own learning and development
• entitled to experience regular success
• entitled to develop positive relationships with themselves and other people
• entitled to develop a strong, positive relationship with their natural world.
This learner-centred approach interweaves with the ever-changing moods and marvels, potential and challenges of the natural world through the seasons to fill every Forest School session and programme with discovery and difference. Yet each programme does also share a common set of principles, aimed at ensuring that all learners experience the cumulative and lasting benefits that quality Forest School offers.
Principles of Forest School
These principles were first articulated by the Forest School Community in 2002. They were reviewed in 2011 and sent out for a 5-month consultation to Forest School networks and practitioners in all UK nations. They were published on the Institute for Outdoor Learning Forest School SIG page in Feb 2012, and in the minutes of the GB trainers’ network.
• Forest School is a long-term process of regular sessions, rather than a one-off or infrequent visits; the cycle of planning, observation, adaptation and review links each session.
• Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.
• Forest School uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for being, development and learning.
• Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.
• Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
• Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.
(Taken from Forest School Association Website)
The children go out in all weathers, all year round, exploring and learning from the four seasons. The children’s curiosity along with the varied natural resources in our woodland are used to inspire creative thinking, problem solving and skill development.
During the sessions the children have the chance to develop:
• social skills
• language and communication
• motivation and concentration
Activities will depend on the aptitude and knowledge of participants.
Examples of forest school activities include:
• Using tools such as knives, saws, fire - steels, and hand - drills,
• Building dens
• Fires and cooking
• Natural crafts
• Nature exploration
• Scavenger hunts
• Imaginative play games including storytelling
Most activities are child-led but of course some activities are planned by the practitioner.