Our first ever blog post should be about what Forest School actually is…
Here is the linkto the official Forest School website on ‘What Forest School Is, The Misconceptions, The Benefits, The Learning Process, and the Research that backs it up.
When Debbie first told me that she was going to turn us into a Forest School, my initial reaction was ‘oh here we go – another fad, hippy concept that we’re going to try out and force the children to endure’. I wasn’t looking forward to being outside in the cold, snow, rain, and wind. Our first ever lesson – was cold and rained the entire time. I hadn’t had the chance to buy appropriate clothing or shoes, so I was wet, my feet were wet and it was really muddy. I don’t remember what activities we did, but it involved fairies and it was wet! That night I went to the outdoor shop and purchased wellies, waterproof trousers and an amazing lined, waterproof jacket! Well, it didn’t rain again for weeks and weeks, but I was much happier knowing that I was prepared.
The children loved it. No matter what the weather, they wanted to be out. We only had a few participating in the activities to begin with – but slowly and surely they all began to join in. After a few months, it became the norm. They were getting faster at getting into their outdoor clothing and they were getting used to falling over outside and creating games for themselves to play using the mud and sticks. I’ve honestly never ever seen learning like it, children who weren’t confident inside the nursery building were speaking in front of the whole group outside. Children were given control over their own learning and flourished. So after 12 months of doing one morning a week – this school year we’ve decided to up it to 3 mornings a week. Debbie has completed her Level 3 Forest School Practitioner training, so we’ve moved on to having a real fire and having the children cooking over it.
I couldn’t be happier with our setup and the children that have just started coming this school year are finally starting to settle into the routine of getting themselves dressed and undressed, knowing the boundaries in the forest and participating in the forest school experiences that we set up.
Forest School is
It is a learning process
It is long-term
It has high staffing ratios working with small groups of children/young people/families
It takes place in the outdoors, particularly wooded environments
It is lead by a qualified level 3 Forest School Leader, who works together with at least one other competent adult
It takes place on a weekly basis with the same learners attending the whole process
It involves an understanding of how children learn and supports them to build confidence, resilience, independence and creativity