The Definition of a Forest school
'"An inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults regular opportunities to achieve, develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a local woodland environment.'"
- UK Forest School Committee 2011.
The concept of Forest Schools first started in Wisconsin, USA, in 1927. Later in the 1950's the idea was introduced in Sweden, Denmark and other countries of Europe. In Denmark it became an embedded part of the curriculum for pre-school children stemming from their 'Early Childhood Education'. Children attending Forest Kindergartens were arriving at school with strong social skills, the ability to work in groups effectively and generally children had high self-esteem and confidence in their own capabilities.
This ethos was introduced to the UK during the 1990's and the growth of Forest Schools has been unprecedented throughout the UK and certainly at Grace's we provide quality provision true to the original ethos.
What Happens In A Forest School Session
On the children's first trip to Forest School we allow them to become familiar with the new environment and clear boundaries are set. Once the children have become confident in the forest we begin to introduce them to new activities and resources, encouraging the children to lead their own play and learning, with our role being to support the development they gain from the experience.
At the end of each session the children will reflect upon what they have done at Forest School that day and discuss what they would like to do the next time.
Children are free to explore as they wish, climb trees (with supervision), play in the mud, make rope swings or rope balance games and generally experience the woodland environment.
Allowing the children to steer their learning and manage their own risks is a vital part of their development, building on their innate motivation, positive attitudes and/or interests. Children grow in confidence as they reflect and plan their own learning, allowing them to problem solve, make mistakes and try again builds on their resilience.
Resilience is an important skill for children to develop, as it enables them to learn in a more effective way, accepting others ideas and working in groups. Children with resilience will be less upset if they don’t complete a task and will be confident to try again next time.
Find Out More
For more information about Grace's Nursery, take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions.
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"The importance of outdoor life is a core part of the philosophy of Grace's, with children being wrapped up in winter and slathered in sun cream in summer and getting out at every opportunity. Some of our daughter's best days have involved cleaning out rabbit hutches with the staff, helping to grow vegetables in the garden, playing in the enormous sandpit, going on treasure hunts or simply splashing in muddy puddles..."
The six principles of Forest School
Principle 1: Forest School is a long-term process of frequent and regular sessions in a woodland or natural environment, rather than a one-off visit. Planning, adaptation, observations and reviewing are integral elements of Forest School
Principle 2: Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural wooded environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.
Principle 3: Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners
Principle 4: Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
Principle 5: Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.
Principle 6: Forest School uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for development and learning.
Our Forest School site
Our Forest School is within the 24 acre site of the garden centre and is only about a 5-10 minute walk from the nursery. Each Forest School session is led by our qualified Forest School Leader and has a high ratio of adults to children to ensure safety and so that the children have the best opportunities to explore. Our chosen site is securely fenced off to protect it from unwelcome visitors and this will add further safety to the trip when the children visit it. All aspects of the session are risk assessed and control measures are used to keep the risks as low as necessary, however, allowing children to take risks is a huge part of Forest Schools.