What is Forest School?
"...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 Association
The Forest School Approach
Forest School is a child-centred, holistic approach to learning, in which all parts of the child: physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, social and communication are considered, supported and developed through positive outdoor experiences with nature.
Forest School promotes success, independence and risk-taking which helps develop self-esteem and confidence through a range of open-ended activities, which can be adapted and changed to suit the different interests, skills and learning styles of the participants. Within Forest School there is a move away from traditional didactic teaching, with the emphasis being on providing opportunities for child initiated exploration and learning. Activities such as tool use, lighting fires, climbing trees, teach children how to manage risks, take responsibility for their own behaviour, move out of their comfort zones and discover their own limits, within a safe and supportive environment. They learn how to work as part of a team, respect other’s views and opinions and gain confidence to participate and contribute.
Forest School Leaders adapt their planning to meet the individual needs of their group by careful observation, reviews and discussions. They use their pedagogical knowledge to help support and scaffold the children and develop their skills according to their individual needs and interests.
Forest School provides opportunities for 'small achievable tasks' which ensures all children succeed. There is no 'right or wrong' way of doing things, just a safe way, which allows the children to develop creativity and become independent thinkers. Within the Forest School setting everyone is equal, children and adults support one another and through regular sessions a sense of community is built.
Benefits of Forest School
The importance and positive impact of spending time outdoors on children's development and mental health is increasingly highlighted in studies and research by leading psychologists and educational experts. Here are some of the opportunities provided during Forest School which help support children's health, well-being and development.
Building confidence, independence and resilience
Developing imagination and creativity
Interest and understanding of the environment
Time for silence, mindfulness and reflection
Extended concentration and perseverance
Identifying, taking and managing risks
Developing and refining fine and gross motor skills
What to Wear
Below is a list of suitable clothing which will enable the children to be sufficiently protected from the weather and the forest environment and to fully participate in Forest School sessions. Please note that children should wear long sleeves and long trousers, regardless of the season. This is to protect them from tick bites, sun burn, stinging nettles, scratches and thorns.
It is best to wear lots of layers which will keep in the heat (and can be removed if needed) as it is much cooler under the canopy of the trees.
Long sleeved t-shirt
Jumper / Fleece
Waterproof trousers (or an all-in-one snow suit)
Wellies with warm socks / walking boots
Waterproof gloves (not mittens as the children can’t use their fingers to complete activities)
Lightweight, long-sleeved top
Lightweight long trousers
Wellies or enclosed toed shoes / boots (no sandals)