What happens in Forest School?
WE are excited to announce that we are extending our Forest School to the whole school from September 2019 and we need YOUR help!
We are looking for parents volunteers who can commit to a regular day each week, we would like parent volunteers every day, but need additional adults particularly on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
You will need to:
- Be available to attend some Forest School sessions on a Monday and/or Tuesday before the summer holidays;
- Complete the online Level One Forest School course;
- Be available to assist our morning and afternoon Forest School sessions on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday
- Be prepared to be outside and have fun in all weathers!
Forest School originated in Scandinavia and was brought to the UK in the early 1990s. Sessions are always child led (to foster independence), long term (to build trust and relationships) and outside (to gain the many physical and emotional benefits from being in nature). The Forest School ethos aims to promote students’ confidence, social skills, sense of self-worth and emotional well-being in an outdoors environment.
Students are not taught, but are encouraged to find things out for themselves through play i.e. games, stories, creative expression and sharing. Through play the child develops their initiative and imagination (problem solving), learns resilience and resourcefulness (perseverance and determination), how to give and ask for help and support from peers (emotional intelligence and teamwork), and how to appropriately self-manage risk in an increasingly risky world.
It is important to recognise that Forest School is not simply an outside classroom or a nature lesson. There is no written academic work and no tests or exams.
What happens in Forest School?
Activities are provided during a forest school session but the emphasis is on the children choosing what they do. Activities might include den building, cutting firewood and fire building, crafts such as dream catchers or whistles, games, rope swings, flora and fauna ID as well as stories and sharing.
The obvious benefits of improved coordination and physical health from doing activities outside, are enhanced by opportunities to develop imagination and initiative; problem solving and perseverance. Children are encouraged to try things out and learn from experience, rather than rigidly following a set of instructions. This often involves learning to work as a team to get something done, feeling comfortable with asking for and offering help and learning how to cope with failure or setbacks. All crucial emotional skills to take with them into the adult world.
You’ve mentioned children learning to self-manage risk, how do I know my child will be safe?
All Forest school sessions are led by a Level 3 qualified leader with an outdoor paediatric First Aid qualification (renewed every 3 years). Assistants and Volunteers will have a minimum of Level 1 Forest School training, or have been inducted by the Forest School leader.
All activities are risk assessed. The site and weather on a daily basis. Dynamic risk assessments continually take place throughout each session. High ratio of adults to children mean staff can observe without interfering, but still be able to step in quickly if an activity looks like it is becoming unsafe.
We always ensure that if one child has a problem or needs to be removed from the site, there are sufficient adults remaining for activities to carry on safely.
There are strict rules around the camp fire and an adult is always present whilst the fire is lit.
How long will sessions last?
Sessions will vary, but will typically take place over a morning or afternoon, so 1.5-2 hours.
What should I wear? / How dirty will I get?
This is a very good point. YOU WILL GET DIRTY!
There is no such thing as bad weather – only inappropriate clothing
As long as the leader deems it safe, adults and children are encouraged to get as messy as they like. Many children and young people miss out on experiential learning because they are overly concerned with getting dirty or spoiling their clothes. You can help them overcome this by making sure that they wear old clothes that they don’t have to worry about.
Forest School happens in all weathers (unless extreme and deemed unsafe by the leader) including snow, rain and heat. With this in mind please send your child in appropriate clothing for the weather. We are providing waterproof outer coats and trousers, however these are not warm. Layers in winter ideally with wellies, hats and gloves are the order of the day. In summer sun hats are important. Please bear in mind that even though it might be hot, sturdy footwear and lightweight clothing that will keep limbs protected from stings, scratches and ticks, and enable ease of movement will be more appropriate than sandals and summer dresses.
How will we know if Forest School is cancelled?
As Forest school happens in all weathers it is unlikely that it will be cancelled unless there is a staff shortage or very severe weather. We will endeavour to give parents 24 hours notice.
Liz Pope is running a meeting after school for all parents who are interested in volunteering on Monday 24 June and Tuesday 25 June at 3:30pm and 5:00pm. If you are not able to attend these times but know you can commit to volunteering a day each week from September, then please leave your details with the office and Liz Pope will contact you.