What is Forest School?
Forest School is outdoor, nature-based learning that focuses on the holistic development of children. It is multi-sensory and helps:
- develop independence, confidence and self-esteem
- build resilience and improve communication and social skills
- reduce anxiety
- improve concentration and the motivation to learn.
Forest School is a regular, long-term process rather than a one-off session. We aim for each group to attend for at least half a year, so that the children can experience the changing seasons and fully engage with the process.
The sessions are child-centred and child-led, allowing the children to develop their own personal learning style to complete various activities. Exposure to the natural world is key, at a time when it has never been more vital for children to understand their impact on the environment.
Forest School provides a unique opportunity for the children to have new, creative experiences in the outdoor environment in a safe way. They are encouraged to learn about the natural environment, how to handle risks and how to use their own initiative to work with others and solve problems.
Run by Mrs Woodhouse, a variety of Forest School experiences are planned, including:
- Den building
- Mini beast hunting
- Digging zone/mud kitchen play
- Story telling
- Slack lines
- Making music
- Creating obstacle courses
- Learning bushcraft skills, ie. whittling
- Wildlife ID
- Team building games
- Fire lighting
- Crafting with natural materials
We go outside in all weathers. The Forest School mantra of “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing” is very much adhered to (as long as it is safe to do so).
At Heatherley, the children are at the very heart of everything we do, and our Forest School provision promotes and encourages this. A culture of diversity is nurtured and promoted, whereby everyone feels valued, and individuality is celebrated.
It is our hope that by giving the children the opportunity to experience Forest School, they will be able to take the skills learnt with them and put them into practise in the classroom and at home, helping them to make positive choices, preparing them for a world both inside and outside of school.
How does Forest School at Heatherley work?
Forest School takes place in the afternoons. At present, we have a Y1/2 group, a Y3/4 group and a Y5/6 group. Each group has a two-hour session on separate days. The current groups will continue until February half term. The children for the groups are chosen by the class teacher, in discussion with our SENCO, Mr Herring, and Mrs Woodhouse.
We will also be running sessions through the term for a whole class experience, so that every child gets the chance to spend some time in our Forest School area.