What is Forest School?
Forest School is an educational ethos that has grown from the Scandinavian education system. There children start school at a later age, but have a very strong preschool education system. This includes a lot of time spent learning outdoors in the natural environment.
In the UK Forest School has developed steadily since the 1990’s, when a group of educationalist visiting Denmark noticed that the children there had great strengths in areas like confidence, resilience, emotional intelligence and self esteem. Since then there has been research that shows a strong link between such strengths and the ethos of Forest Schools.
At Churchtown Primary School we hope that giving the children such opportunities will help them become better learners while at school, as well as giving them strengths and skills that will stay with them for life.
The Principles of Forest School
- FS 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.
- FS takes place in a woodland or natural environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.
- FS uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for being, development and learning.
- FS aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.
- FS offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
- FS is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.
What happens at Forest School?
In forest school sessions, much of the learning is led by the children with the forest school leader acting as a facilitator, helping the children set and achieve their own goals. The children will work in a natural, outdoor environment initially carrying out tasks or challenges set by the Forest School leader. They will also be taught to safely use tools and equipment, appropriate to their ability, which can be used to complete the challenges eg building a shelter. As the experience of the children grows, they begin to set their own goals or challenges, using their new skills to meet them.
Where is the forest?
Admittedly one thing we don’t have on our school grounds is a forest, however the term Forest School has grown to refer more to the values, ethos and goals of this type of outdoor education. Although a woodland environment is ideal, with a little imagination almost any natural, outdoor environment can be used. To this end, we have been working on developing and area of the school field to be used for forest school sessions.
For more information about Forest School, look on http://www.forestschoolassociation.org