So what is Forest School and why is it so beneficial to the children’s learning and development?

To begin we had to establish what Forest School is NOT.

Forest School is NOT:

 Playing outside in break times

 Learning about wildlife

 Learning about woods and the environment

 Learning woodland skills

Although it includes all of these

Forest School IS:

 A system which allows the environment to do the teaching

 Direct experimental learning rather than theoretical learning

 A place where the usual class dynamic is altered by the environment

 Learning all the Early Years Foundation Stage Areas in an alternative stimulating environment

At Nutfield, Forest Sessions include and are adapted to all ages and abilities. From 0-8 the children are supported to participate in Forest activities and tasks regularly suited to their needs and abilities either on a daily or every other day basis. We are out in ALL weathers and have a strong belief that there is no such thing as ‘bad weather’ just bad clothing.

Forest  School

The Forest School philosophy is to encourage and inspire individuals of any age through positive outdoor experiences, to promote the engagement of the children through motivating achievable tasks and activities and to enhance development of personal, social, health and emotional skills. We intend to provide a more relevant and vocational curriculum to the children.  Forest School can do this through teaching the children about tool use, risk assessing, ppe, and why these are important, many of the skills learnt by the children are directly transferable.

What happens during Forest School sessions? All areas of intelligence are given equal opportunity in the learning ‘playing field’. The more experiences the children are offered the more stimulation, the more the brain connects, and the more able the child is to relate, problem solve and cope with life. The types of things to expect from a Forest School Session at Nutfield would be

 Negotiating ground rules

 Fires, cooking and healthy eating

 Games

 Making a rope bridge

 Building dens and shelters

 Leaning about tools and practicing skills

 Making objects from natural materials

 Making musical instruments from natural resources

 Making mud masks and mud bugs

 Reflection on the day

The benefits children reap from Forest School are endless. Children are taken into the woods in all sorts of weathers and through free and structured play, education and activities they learn to be successful in how to handles risks and how to use tools safely, cooperating with others and teamwork, using their own initiative to problem solve, create their own boundaries of behaviour both physical and social and maintain and look after their health and hygiene. Promoting good early nurture for children is a priority and to achieve this we ensure we have high staff ratios, which enables us to focus our attention on individuals, small achievable tasks within a stimulating environment, obvious consequences to actions and the involvement of setting rules and boundaries. Recognising individual’s schemas and learning styles and catering to these.

At Nutfield we endeavour to ensure that our outdoor Forest environment is safe however allowing opportunities to risk take. Health and Safety is a number one consideration when playing in an outdoor environment and running our Forest School Sessions. All sites are risk assessed, regularly checked and safe. All equipment is well maintained, children and adults have the correct and necessary personal protective clothing.  This will mean us keeping in contact with you to make sure children have covering footwear other than crocs and long sleeved t-shirts to use in the summer.  During the winter children need base layers and snow suits together with snow boots in addition to wellingtons to make sure we are warm.

Forest School Sessions aim to raise self esteem and confidence. This enables skills to be transferred and developments to become established into children’s everyday lives. A supportive environment allows learning to take place at an appropriate pace through personal exploration. Reflection on experiences impacts learning to allow the process of personal growth. A shift in self perception occurs allowing a greater understanding of one’s potential. Through successfully raising the children’s self esteem and confidence learning becomes self motivated. Forest School promotes the children’s physical and emotional development, this enables skills to be transferred and developments to become established into children’s everyday lives.

At Nutfield we value your input as parents/carers. Engaging more effectively with parents and involving you in the children’s provision allows us to share information and feedback to enhance the children’s development and well being. We also seek to develop a greater involvement with local communities and developing our site for the benefit of other groups.