Forest School is an innovative educational approach that focuses on the processes of learning rather than content transfer. It is play based, child led learning that takes place in the outdoors. It is a way of stimulating a child’s innate creativity and providing a learning environment that stimulates and utilises the senses of touch, hearing, sight and smell. It is about connecting with the natural world and learning to manage risk. It is letting the children, naturally, through their play, lead the learning in a woodland setting. As Forest School is focused on the process of learning (akin to our Montessori approach), Forest School leaders have to step outside the box of lesson planning and venture into the exciting territory of the unexpected, unplanned and unlimited. A Forest School leader facilitates learning by providing opportunities for children to explore and discover through open-ended activities in woodland space, scaffolding new understandings as they emerge. The children lead through their play and the Forest School leader observes the children, ready to capitalise on and facilitate within the teachable moment.
The leader will come to the session with an idea, or more a springboard for learning. The idea is presented to the children and the children decide where they take it. The children experience the “freedom to learn”, spontaneity, exploration and to be creative.
Some examples of ideas presented are:
In September 2014 we started a Forest School one afternoon a week.
“Time in nature is not leisure time; it’s an essential investment in our children’s health” (Richard Louv)
The children go to the Leg O’Mutton Reservoir. It is a hidden treasure on our doorstep. The Forest School takes place there and happens regardless of any weather conditions. It is by regular attendance to the same space in a woodland that children become more comfortable and confident in the site whilst watching it change through the seasons.
Numerous studies undertaken by education professionals and scholars show us that children learn through play, learn through their mistakes, need to take risks in order to be creative and need to move in order to learn. At Forest School there are no buildings, no desks, no bells signalling break time and no prescribed learning outcomes. Instead the children lead the learning; they move, explore, discover, wonder and use their imaginations. Forest School provides children with a space to take risks, to hypothesise and test those hypotheses. It provides a place for children to communicate, cooperate, problem solve and construct. Forest School provides a safe and supportive environment wherein children are entrusted to assess risks, to use their own creativity, and to control their own learning. As a result of participating in these environments, children often demonstrate increased self-esteem and self-confidence, improved social skills, improved physical motor skills, improved motivation and concentration, and increased knowledge and understanding of the environment. As if that weren’t enough, the children also develop language and communication skills through social play. Forest School also improves both physical and family health. Many studies indicate that spending time in nature is an important component of human health and development. (Tree House Learning)
You may wish to visit our Forest School photo album