Since 2018, children at Whitefriars have taken part in weekly sessions of Forest School. It is delivered a qualified Forest School Practitioner and it enables children the opportunity to learn through a hands on experience within the school woodland setting to develop the following: Confidence and self-esteem, communication and social skills, physical skills, have greater understanding and awareness of the natural environment, increased natural motivation and a positive attitude to learning, an ability to problem solve and be creative, encourage healthier lifestyles and improve resilience and take risks.
Forest School Learning is underpinned by 6 key principles:
- Successful Forest Schools require frequent and regular sessions over a long term. This is to enable a child to have quality time to adjust and begin developing new skills and relationships.
- The woodland environment is maintained, and risk managed. The Forest School will use the natural resources to create a safe and fun learning environment.
- Holistic development fosters resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.
- Forest School needs to provide opportunities for the children to take risks appropriately.
- Practitioners have up to date qualifications and to maintain their professional development. They are required to have all their safety qualifications including Fire and Tool Safety and Outdoor First Aid training.
- Forest School uses a learner-centred process using planning, adapting, observing and reviewing. These are all integral elements of Forest School as it is a child-led learning environment.
How else does Forest school help my child?
The activities at forest school are design to improve the children’s resilience and self-confidence. All children are expected to have a go at everything and the adults will support them but not complete the task for them. We have seen a marked improvement in children’s ability to attempt an activity and articulate the kind of help they need rather than just saying “I can’t do this”. There is a limited number of tools and this means that the children need to use good communication and negotiation skills. Teamwork skills are also developed as a number of the activities and tools require teamwork. The children have learnt to listen carefully to instructions and now follow a wide range of complicated yet necessary protocols. They have developed an awareness of others needs and risk assessment skills. The tool work the children do helps with fine and gross motor skills which in turn supports handwriting. Forest school helps children work, learn and play with a wider range of children and shows the class teacher how they work in a different environment which can then be used to inspire and develop learning in the classroom.
The children use a full range of tools and equipment to enable activities such as den building, Group challenges, rope/knots/lashings tying, camp fire cooking, art lessons, tree/plant identification, basic tracking skills and using the changing seasons to get the most out of the environment and become aware of the weather and how to be happy outside.
What to Bring
Children should be dressed for the outdoors in suitable clothing for wet or hot weather. Long trousers and sleeves are compulsory. We go out in ALL weather (except Very High Winds) and may get muddy and dirty, so old clothing is advised. Footwear should be comfortable and appropriate for bad weather. Waterproofs are essential even in the Summer. In cold weather it would be great if you could make sure they have plenty of layers, hats and gloves and a waterproof coat. In cold wet weather please pack a spare pair of socks.