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Forest School

What is Forest School?
Forest School originated in Scandinavia and was brought to the UK in the early 1990s. Sessions are shaped by children (to encourage ownership and independence), long term (to build trust and relationships) and outside (to gain the many physical and emotional benefits from being in nature).  The Forest School ethos aims to promote students’ confidence, social skills, sense of self-worth and emotional well-being in an outdoors environment and learn, hands-on.

What happens  in Forest School?

Forest School will take place on our own grounds at Parklands. We are thrilled to have wonderful outdoor spaces for the children to explore and enjoy.  During a Forest School session, activities are provided but the emphasis is on the children choosing too.  Activities include  den  building,  using tools such as saws, knives (under 1:1 supervision), cutting  firewood  and  fire  lighting,  crafts  such  as dream catchers  or whistles,  games,  rope  swings,  flora and  fauna identification as  well  as  stories  and  sharing. The benefits  of  improved  coordination and  physical  health  from  doing  activities  outside,  are enhanced  by  opportunities  to  develop  imagination and initiative;  problem  solving  and  perseverance. Children can try things out and learn from experience, rather than rigidly following  a set of instructions (with the exception of tools and fire).  This  often involves  learning  to  work  as  a team  to  get  something  done,  feeling comfortable  with  asking  for  and  offering  help and learning  how to  cope  with  failure  or setbacks.  All crucial emotional skills needed to thrive and be the best they can be.

Forest School involves  children  learning to  self-manage  risk,  how do  I  know my  child  will be safe?

All Forest  school sessions  are  led  by  a Level 3  qualified  leader with  an outdoor paediatric First Aid qualification.  All activities are  risk  assessed and children take part in a dynamic risk assessment with the Forest School leader every time they do a Forest School session. This then becomes habit, to look for, assess and manage risk continually  throughout  each  session. High ratio  of adults  to  children  mean staff can  observe  without  interfering,  but still  be  able  to  step in quickly  if  an  activity  looks  like  it  is  becoming  unsafe. Staying on site means that toileting and hand washing will take place in the school building, as usual.

There  are  strict  rules  around  camp  fire and tools  and  these are used under close adult supervision. 

How long will sessions  last?

Sessions will take  place on a Thursday or Friday for around 2 hours. The program will run for 5 or 6 weeks.

What should children  wear?  / How  dirty  will  they  get?

Children may get dirty! There  is  no  such thing as  bad weather  –  only  poor  clothing, so as  long  as  the  leader  deems  it  safe,  children  are  encouraged  to  get  a bit messy  if  they  like.  Many  children  and  young  people  miss  out  on experiential  learning  because  they  are  overly  concerned  with  getting  dirty or spoiling  their clothes.  You  can  help  them  overcome  this  by  making  sure that  they  wear  old clothes  that  they  don’t  have  to  worry  about. Forest  School  happens  in  all weathers  (unless  extreme  winds, heat or lightening and  deemed  unsafe by  the  leader)  including  snow,  rain  and  sun.  With  this  in  mind  please  send your child  in  appropriate  clothing  for  the  weather.  Layers  in  winter,  ideally with  waterproof  trousers,  wellies,  hats  and  gloves  are  the  order  of  the  day.  In summer, sun  hats  are important.  Your child should arrive in their outdoor learning clothes (old clothes, shoes which will get dirty), with a SPARE set of clothes in a bag for them to change into when they get dirty or wet. This should include socks, pants, shoes.