'The best classroom and richest cupboard are roofed only by the sky.'
What is Forest School?
Forest Schools originated in Scandinavia in the 1950s as a way of learning about the natural world. By the 1980s they had become an integral part of the Danish early years program. Forest Schools are successful for children of all ages who visit the same local woodlands on a regular basis. Through play, they learn about the natural environment, how to handle risks and most importantly, to use their own initiative to solve problems and co-operate with others. Sessions run throughout the year, going to the woods in all weathers. Children explore, play, learn boundaries of behaviour (both physical and social), and grow in confidence, self-esteem and motivation.
Our Forest School Site
At Parkhead we are lucky enough to have a large amount of open space and even our own woodland. We make full use of this during our forest school sessions. In each session the children will be taking part in a wide range of activities: exploring woodland wildlife and plants; creating sculpture with mud, twigs, leaves etc. (e.g. elf houses, mud faces, leaf crowns); den building; learning skills such as knots tying: using tools such as peelers, knives and secateurs safely to make artefacts such as ‘magic wands’ and ‘tree cookie’ name badges; and cooking over a fire. These skills are very carefully introduced over time with a high level of adult support. The sessions also allow lots of opportunities for the children to reflect upon their experiences, discussing what they have achieved and what they would like to do next. Children are encouraged to solve problems for themselves and work with their peers as part of a team. Activities are designed to increase children’s self-esteem and self-awareness.
'Children have fun, get excited following a path of learning and self-discovery.'
When do our children have Forest School Lessons?
The children in Reception access forest school weekly from after October half term.
From Years 1 to 6 children have half a term of forest school lessons each week with additional sessions being run at various points in the year. Your child will be given a separate letter to confirm when they will be attending our Forest School Sessions.
What will my child need?
The children will change into their Forest School kit or if their session is in the morning, they can come to school ready bringing with them their school clothes to change into. Children must be protected from extreme weathers—many layers of clothing is better than one thick item of clothing. Please follow the kit list below and note:
- Old clothes are the best as your child will get dirty.
- Arms and legs must be covered at all times.
1. Warm base layers (vest or thermals, long sleeved top, jumper, jogging bottoms).
2. 2. Coat/fleece and waterproof coat.
3. Thick long socks or two pairs of medium thickness.
4. Waterproof trousers.
5. Wellies or sturdy walking boots.
6. Hat and gloves. Sun hat in Summer.
If wearing a scarf it should be tucked in—an over the head neck warmer (snood) is better.
For health and safety reasons, children who do not have the appropriate kit will not be able to take part in our woodland activities on that day.
Let’s get muddy!
Here are just five ways (of many) that mud can benefit your children.
1. Did you know that studies have shown dirt to be good for your brain? Apparently, there are types of bacteria that are naturally found in soil which activate the neurons that produce serotonin - a key chemical in many bodily functions, as well as a natural anti-depressant. In other words, dirt can make you feel happy.
2. Dirt is also great for the immune-system, especially in children. Research has shown that early exposure to the naturally occurring microbes in soil will help build stronger, more disease-resistant kids.
3. In our technologically generation, children just aren’t getting enough time to play outside, and that has now been linked to attention disorders and obesity.
4. Children who play outside laugh more, which means they’re happy!
5. Kids who play outside grow in their character development: they become more adventurous, more self-motivated, and they are better able to understand and assess risk.