Forest School is an approach to education that embraces the outdoors as a learning environment. It is an excellent way to offer outdoor learning opportunities for children on a regular (usually weekly) basis in a designated Forest School site.
Children follow the usual curriculum but in an outdoor context, using learning and teaching strategies which raise self-esteem, develop confidence, independence and language and communication skills. Children are learning in a pleasant, natural, fun environment with a wealth of opportunities to suit all learning styles.
At Forest School children learn to assess and manage risks and develop life-long learning skills. Forest School has physical, social and health benefits; helping young people to enjoy physical activity outdoors in increasingly sedentary lives.
At Dove Bank Primary School we are very fortunate to have a Forest School site within the school grounds. We have one trained Forest School Leader – Ms Earp – who currently leads sessions with children in Key Stage 1 each week.
During sessions pupils spend some time reflecting on any changes to the environment. Work will support the main curriculum (particularly in literacy, science, maths and the arts) and will have a strong emphasis on raising a child’s self-esteem and independence. Pupils do an activity together/ learn a new skill and have lots of time to explore independently.
The children make their own choices during this time, but it might include: creating a picture on the floor using natural materials, bug hunting, making houses for insects, natural artwork, whittling, mud painting, making a collection, making a nest, retelling and acting out stories, counting tree trunks, den building and much more.
Pupils then gather together and share some of their work. There will be tools on offer but they will always be used under adult supervision.
‘I love putting mud on my face’.
‘I like Forest school because I can hide inside the bushes, play and learn in the fresh air’.
‘I like to look for worms.
‘I like to collect twigs, leaves, sticks and make things’.
‘The best thing is when we sit under the trees and listen to a story’.
‘My favourite part is when we have hot chocolate’.
Where and When?
At Dove Bank we are very lucky to have a large field surrounded by trees which is where most of our Key Stage 2 forest school sessions take place, and a small woodland area for pupils in Key Stage 1. Our Forest School session run all year round and we go out in all weather conditions (unless conditions are dangerous).
What will my child need to bring?
Children will need to bring a pair of Wellington boots with their name labelled clearly and a waterproof jacket. Waterproof trousers would also be useful. Please ensure your child is dressed appropriately for the different weather conditions.