It is absolutely brilliant how many settings are now promoting outdoor learning as part of their curriculum. Forest School's are more than just children being outside.
Forest School's have trained and qualified Forest School Leader's and staff trained in the Forest School process. Any true Forest School can show you their accreditation as we can above, anything else is not Forest Schooling!
Forest School is where children learn through outside play over a period of time (it is not one off sessions). Forest School improves childrens self -esteem and improves the ability to risk assess and to make their own decisions. Adult to child ratio's are much lower that you would find in a conventional setting. Children learn to use tools, build dens, dig in the mud, identify bugs, trees, plants and animal tracks. Children learn without realising that they are learning and we cover every aspect of the EYFS.
According to the pioneering Swiss philospher and psychologist Jean Piaget, the 3-7 year olds are intuitive in nature. He also believed that "children require long, uniterrupted periods of play and exploration".
Forest School provides children with the freedom, space and a beautiful natural environment in which to be children. They can run, swing, climb, build dens and fences, saw wood, do mud play, mud kitchen play, splash in puddles, experience the natural world with bug hunting and nature trails, tell stories, play and explore and use their imagination. Every day offers us something new through the changing seasons and there is a freedom associated with being outdoors which you just don't get inside, no matter how much natural light is let in.
Children playing and learning in an outdoor environment are more absorbed, more creative, active, motivated and relaxed. In overcrowded space children can become more aggressive and some can become withdrawn and solitary.
There are four vehicles which children learn through - talk, play, movement and sensory experience and all of these happen naturally outside.
Children need exercise daily and vigorous enough to get out of breath. The NHS guidelines say 3 hours a day, and what perfect way to do this by running around, climbing fallen trees, digging, sawing, swinging...
What about bad weather? There is an aphorism which says that "There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing". If they can do Forest School in Norway at temperatures of -10C then we can do it here! The only time that we do not go out is if it is too dangerous (high winds).
Anecdotal evidence shows that Forest Schools help literacy and numeracy. Children become more competent physically and play more imaginatively. They learn to think, question and justify what they think.
What we can say with complete confidence, is that we hear all the time from our families how much their child is benefiting from their experience with us.
The children learn about forestry and nature and how to look after others as well as looking after themselves.
We go for lots of adventures and walks in the local areas, we go blackberry picking, butterfly spotting, nature trails, local woodlands and of course our own small holding...we never get bored of being outside!
When we are not out and about, we carry on the forest school learning at our setting in Rudgwick.