What is Forest Schools?
Forest School is a long term holistic learning process that aims to raise self awareness and self esteem in participants. Regular sessions take place in a woodland environment, where the landscape itself adds to the experience of learning, offering different opportunities for child led learning and play. Qualified practitioners are trained in child development, self esteem and learning theories and facilitate sessions to gain personal outcomes for each participant. Forest school can be applied to all age groups and abilities, and can be linked to the National Curriculum and Early Years Foundation Stage along with other learning initiatives.
Group sizes are kept to a maximum of 12 – 15 children and child adult ratios are high ensuring that each participant gets the support and nurturance they require. Initially the practitioner conducts a baseline study, to find out where each learner is at, this takes place over a number of weeks and provides an insight into possible outcomes for that individual. In a perfect world a Forest Schools programme would run for a whole year with the same children so that they can experience the seasons and knit together as a community, each finding their roles and strengths and caring for others. Forest School practitioners are looking to alter behaviour, and this takes time to be engrained and become second nature.
Forest School England Definition
Forest School is an inspirational process, that offers children and young people opportunities to achieve, develop confidence and self-esteem, through hands on learning experiences in a local woodland environment.
Forest School England Principles
1. Forest School is for all children and young people.
2. Forest School builds on a child’s innate motivation and positive attitude to learning, offering them the opportunities to take risks, make choices and initiate learning for themselves.
3. Forest School is organised and run by qualified Forest School leaders
4. Forest School maximises the learning potential of local woodland through frequent and regular experiences throughout the year, not a one-off visit.
5. Forest School helps children to understand, appreciate and care for the natural environment.