We have offered forest school at Busy Bees since 2014 and we continue to offer this wonderful outside fun. Katie is our most recently trained member of staff, qualifying in 2019.
What is Forest School?
Forest School is a new concept of education which began during the 1950’s in Scandinavia and was adopted by Denmark in the 1980’s. Denmark developed ‘rain or shine’ schools in which children learned in the outdoor environment whatever the weather. It was a visit to Denmark in 1994 by the Early Years department of Bridgwater College which highlighted the benefits of Forest School and so began its development in this country.
Forest School takes place in a woodland setting and the philosophy is to encourage and inspire children through positive outdoor experiences. Sessions are led by Forest School Leaders who have undertaken extensive training enabling them to teach safe, enjoyable activities and allow the children time and space to explore and learn. By participating in engaging, motivating and achievable activities, children have an opportunity to develop motivation, emotional and social skills. Children’s language and vocabulary is shown to develop through sessions due to the rich and stimulating environment.
Forest schools have demonstrated success with children of all ages who visit the same area of woodland on a regular basis and learn about the natural environment. They also learn how to handle risks and use their initiative to solve problems and cooperate with each other. They gain in confidence and self-esteem and learn to share and talk through their ideas.
How will Forest School sessions run at Busy Bees?
Sessions will be held once or twice a week and will run for a period of six weeks on the same day. This ensures there is continuity for the children and they can progress through different activities over the six week period. Research has shown that to have maximum benefit to the children, sessions should be regular and consistent. At the end of the six weeks, another day will be chosen. By varying the days on which Forest School is taught, more children get a chance to participate.
Weekly sessions will be run by Katie who has completed her Forest School Leader training (Level 3).
Each six week block will have a theme and will incorporate a variety of fun, stimulating activities which allow the children to be creative and use their imagination. Some activities will involve children working in pairs or small groups whereas other activities the children might work individually.
Activities the children will be participating in include:
Using tools to make things
Creating using woodland resources
Tree and Leaf identification
Sessions will begin with circle time and an introduction to the session as well as a reminder of the safety rules. The children will then play games before the Forest School Leader will demonstrate the activity and children are free to join in and explore. The session will close with a story and a Goodbye song.
Part of Forest School involves the children learning the boundaries of behaviour and why these rules are important. Children will be taught how to use tools such as vegetable peelers and will be supported on a one to one basis during this. There will be high adult:child ratios at all times to ensure the children are safe and supervised. We expect children to gain in confidence and self-esteem and be motivated to learn. We hope that children attending the sessions will go home and tell their parents and carers about what fun they had at Forest School!!
What is the appropriate clothing for Forest School?
Clothing will be dependent on the weather. In the colder months, children and adults will need a warm coat (preferably water proof), a scarf, hat and gloves as well as wellies. Waterproof trousers are advised for wet weather. During the Summer months, children will need a sun hat, sun cream and trainers or wellies – sandals are not appropriate footwear for forest school. If children and adults have the appropriate clothing, they are more likely to enjoy the experience and look forward to the next time.
Forest School sessions will take place in all weathers, except very high winds, so children must be clothed appropriately.
What will the children gain from Forest School?
The activities children will participate in will be ‘achievable’ so they have the opportunity to succeed and accomplish. Research has shown that children’s all round development is enhanced through Forest School and that sessions increase children’s self-confidence, social skills, communication skills, motivation, fitness, motor skills, independence and knowledge and understanding.
It develops children’s sense of wonder, confidence, self-esteem, cooperation and feelings of trust in others. The trained Forest School Leaders working in the outdoor surroundings will develop a child’s sense of wonder and teach the children practical skills in a safe environment that will naturally aid their development and allow them to initiate their own learning. Children will get to see the environmental changes as the seasons change. They will be encouraged to be environmentally aware and will be taught respect and responsibility for the World around them.