Welcome to Forest School
What is Forest School?
“Forest School is an inspirational process that offers all learners regular opportunities to achieve, develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment.” The Forest School Association.
Originally a concept developed in Denmark, children attending Forest Schools were found to have developed strong social skills, the ability to work in groups effectively and generally had high self-esteem and confidence in their own capabilities. These attributes proved to be an effective foundation that raised academic achievements and is therefore an excellent way to support the National Curriculum and consolidate learning in the classroom.
The aim of Cheswick Green Primary School Forest School is to encourage the development of children’s emotional, social and physical development through play, activities and exploration in an outdoor environment. The philosophy of Forest School is to encourage and inspire individuals of any age through positive outdoor experiences and participation in engaging and achievable tasks. During Forest School sessions, we aim to provide opportunities that promote a child’s self-esteem and to encourage confident, motivated, independent, resilient and happy children.
Forest School sessions
Forest School takes place outdoors whatever the weather (except in thunderstorms and very high winds) therefore it is crucial that your child has appropriate warm, waterproof clothing and suitable footwear. These can be left in a bag on your child’s peg, but we will endeavour to send them home if your child gets wet or muddy during their session.
Please see the Forest School kit list that your child will need to bring to each session in order to take part.
Who runs the session? Sessions are run by Sophie Miah, Level 3 Forest School Practitioner and supported by class teaching assistants or Jack Smith.
Please also look out on the website for the Forest School Blog, which will be regularly updated. You’ll see lots of exciting photos and explanations about what the children have been doing and learning.
What are the benefits of Forest School?
- Confidence Forest School helps children to grow in confidence as a result of the freedom, time and space they are given in their learning. This allows them to demonstrate independence at each individual child’s rate.
- Social skills Activities such as sharing tools and participating in play help teach the children to work together as a group, which strengthens their bonds and social ties.
- Communication The sensory experiences provided by Forest School help prompt language development. Improving communication skills has a positive effect on a child’s self-esteem and is a crucial part of their development.
- Motivation and concentration High levels of interest lead to high levels of attention. Spending time in Forest School is exciting for a child. It tends to fascinate them which develops a strong will to participate and concentrate over long periods of time.
- Physical skills The increase in outdoor activity develops a child’s physical stamina and gross/fine motor skills. Activities that include running around and climbing trees also develop muscle strength, aerobic fitness, balance and coordination.
- Knowledge and understanding Children develop an interest in the great outdoors and respect for the environment. Encouraging children to develop a relationship with the natural world will help in protecting the environment for generations to come.
- Improved mental health
Today’s children are experiencing increased stress caused by a range of pressures. Mental-health professionals acknowledge that maintaining a relationship with nature can be very helpful in supporting children’s emotional and mental wellbeing.
- Exposure to manageable risk
At Forest School, children can run and make a noise, get their hands dirty and experience manageable risk, which is essential for healthy child development, through activities such as supervised fire building and cooking.
- Enjoyable for the children Forest School is fun! It is educational whilst also allowing children to play, explore and discover.
Forest School Rules
Children are taught our 3 important Forest School Rules. They discuss how to follow the rules and then reflect on how well they all did at the end of each session.
Look after yourself
Look after each other
Look after nature
Tools and Fires
When the Forest School Leader feels that the children are ready, they will be introduced to working with tools and to making and cooking on fires. This is of course a very exciting aspect of Forest School, but is bound by rules which the children must all learn and show an understanding of before being able to take part in.
These are some of our most important Fire Circle Rules:
- Always walk around the outside
- Step in and sit down
- No walking in the area between the fire and the seats
- Only approach the fire when requested by the Leader
- Kneel down when helping to feed the fire and cook
- A maximum of 2 children at a time to approach/kneel by the fire
When using tools, we will rope-off the seating area which will then become a ‘tool area’ on tool days. Mostly, this will be on a 1:1 adult/child ratio, unless we are using a bow saw, in which case there will be a ratio of 1:2. Before using any tool, the children must be familiar with and understand the rules of using it. They will learn how to handle and use tools such as a bit and brace drill, loppers, a bowsaw and how to behave when doing so.
They will always use safety equipment and over time the children will become familiar with ‘tool-talks’. Tools will be stored away safely when not in use. Children will learn to use each tool and practise using them safely to make a range of crafts and to help to maintain the forest site.
All major aspects of Forest School safety is covered in our Forest School Health and Safety Policy. During Forest School sessions, the children’s safety is always paramount. However, we have full risk assessments for the site, for fires and for each tool we may use and also an Emergency Procedure to ensure that all eventualities have been covered. The Forest School Leader holds a current outdoor first aid certificate and always carries a first aid kit when out with the children.
|Cheswick Green Forest School Kit|
|Cheswick Green Forest School Volunteer Helper's Guide|
|Cheswick Green Forest School Health and Safety Policy|