What are Forest Schools?
Forest Schools are an innovative, educational approach to outdoor learning and play. Forest Schools were developed in Scandinavia in the 1950s where they focused on teaching children about the natural world.
In 1995, a group from Bridgwater College in Somerset visited a Forest School project in Denmark to see if it could be used with children in the UK. Research highlighted Forest Schools were effective in developing social and behavioral skills and improvements in academic achievement.
Benefits to children
At The Southwater Infant Academy we recognise the potential benefits for children:
- Develop self confidence and self esteem
- Develop communication skills
- Develop and use initiative
- Solve problems
- Co-operate with others
- Handle risk
- Learn about the natural environment
- Enjoy being outdoors and learning
How will Forest School work?
Children in Year 1 attend 3 sessions and Year 2 attend six sessions of Forest School a year. The weekly sessions are led by qualified Leaders, a member of the Academy staff and volunteers. Children work in groups of 15, outside in the conservation area on the academy site.
What happens in a Forest School?
Over the weekly sessions the children are engaged in a wide range of activities with a different focus each week. These sessions are designed to meet the interests and needs of the children and aim to motivate and inspire them to learn new skills while developing an understanding about the natural world.
Activities will include:
- Collecting and using natural resources
- Learning about and identifying plants and wildlife
- Building fires and shelters
- Cooking and sharing food and drinks
- Making environmental art
- Finding out about the weather
- Learning how to use tools correctly
- Activities are designed to develop intra and inter-personal skills together with practical and intellectual skills in a natural setting.
Links with the curriculum
One of the key drivers underpinning the curriculum at The Southwater Infant Academy is the environment. Forest Schooling compliments and extends our curriculum provision by giving the children first hand, direct learning experiences which are exciting and motivating, bringing learning to life in a safe and secure environment.
Health and Safety
All activities will be fully supervised and regular risk assessments will be undertaken. All Leaders and volunteers are DBS checked.
What should children wear?
The basic Forest School kit list is as follows;
- Long trousers or jeans
- Waterproof trousers to be worn over the top of long trousers – these are excellent in cold or windy or wet weather
- Long sleeved tops, sweat shirt, a fleece and a waterproof anorak or jacket
- Wellies or walking boots or snow boots with two pairs of socks at least
- Warm gloves and a warm hat
- Two plastic bags for boots
The kit should be taken home each Friday to be washed (including boots) ready for use the following week. Please ensure that all the clothes and boots are clearly named.