The intention of Forest School at Wellow is to provide children with the opportunity to enjoy being outside in all seasons, to experience activities they may not necessarily be exposed to within the classroom, and to provide a space away from, but alongside, the curriculum to allow children to holistically develop and mature at their own pace.
Currently, Forest School is delivered weekly as part of the Year R & 1 Curriculum.
Our 'Woodland Wednesday' provide an experience with a wide range of activities, that will include fire striking and lighting, learning how to use a wide range of tools safely (saw, mallet, drill etc), den building, digging and basic campfire cooking.
Children also learn about and promote ecology on the site, and focus on increasing the number of animals, insects and wildlife in our environment. They learn how to identify some of the key trees and flowers on the site, and help promote biodiversity by planting trees and seeds as well as creating places for animals for live in birdboxes, hedgehog house and bug hotels.
What do I need to know?
Forest School will run in almost any weather conditions – the exception being in high wind. There are significant learning opportunities to be enjoyed in all weather conditions, including, the very wet and the very cold.
Children need, as a minimum, waterproof trousers and coats. We do have a stock of these items which can be borrowed if necessary.
Forest School sessions are run with high, adult – child ratios to allow children to experience elements of ‘risky play’ and risk. We encourage DBS checked volunteers (and parents) to join us for sessions.
Activities with a high level of potential risk will always be conducted with a 1:1 ratio.
Forest School sessions will always be led by a fully qualified Forest School Practitioner.
All children will need to wear plenty of layers on their Forest School day as this is more effective than one thick coat in cold weather.
Packing spare clothes, such as socks, is advised in case of wet feet. It's also worth bearing in mind that wellies do not offer much warmth!
What is Forest School?
Forest School is an approach to learning that is centred and designed to promote holistic, whole child development, taking place in a natural setting. The origins of Forest School come from Scandinavia, and the ‘open-air’ culture of their Early Childhood Education which became more popular in the UK in the 1990’s. The process became formalised in the early 2000’s and the Forest School Association (FSA) was set up in 2011. Upon formation the FSA agreed upon 6 principles that ensure the effectiveness and impact of Forest School (FSA, 2022).
Principle 1: Forest School takes place regularly… with the same group of learners over an extended period of time, within a natural environment.
Principle 2: Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural wooded environment to support the develop of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.
Principle 3: Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent, and creative learners.
Principle 4: Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and themselves.
Principle 5: Forest School is run to qualified practitioners who maintain and develop their professional practice.
Principle 6: Forest School uses a range of learner-centred process to create a community for development and learning.
At its heart, Forest School is an approach to learning that is playful and ultimately rooted strongly within the principles of play. Children who regularly experience play are widely considered to be more adaptable and well prepared for the world of the future (Zosh et al., 2017). It allows them to develop their deep conceptual understanding of problems and equips them with the skills to tackle new concepts, and apply their prior knowledge to new, unpredictable problems, making connections that allow them to overcome the obstacle.
Lego are one of the world’s leading researchers into the importance of play, and they work closely with UNICEF to promote play in children’s education.
They define play as an activity that is:
Meaningful – it helps to make sense of the world around us by making connections.
Joyful – the overwhelming emotion associated with play is enjoyment and pleasure.
Actively Engaging – play involves being physically, mentally and emotional involved
Iterative – it is important to try hypotheses, test them, and adapt to ensure success.
Socially Interactive - play is often about communication, creating deeper relationships.