We run Forest schooling sessions every week here at Little Rascals and even have our very own Forest school practitioner, Kate. Kate is highly experienced, skilled in all areas of Forest school and has attended extensive training courses that enable her to provide fantastic opportunities to all of our children. The sessions are often held in our nursery gardens, local forests, nature reserves or at the park and consist of a variety of outdoor activities that our children really enjoy taking part in each week.
Why is Forest school so important to us?
First of all, we know that outdoor learning is essential to children’s development. Forest school allows children to make their own judgements, take risks, make and abide by they their own rules (within reason), develop self control and personal discipline, all of which are important qualities to have as they become older and more independent.
We also know that Forest school helps with children’s concentration skills and encourages them to work together in teams to complete tasks. We have noticed that when outdoors, children’s concentration skills and interest spans are far higher than when they are indoors. We think this is because the children are given slightly more freedom and are not confined to one area.
Children are given boundaries when at Forest school that allow them to explore and investigate but they mustn’t cross them, this is when self control and personal discipline come in. For example, children are able to climb the tree but must not climb the tree any further than the staff have said. Children must be able to differentiate between fun and danger, this is something Forest school teaches them.
We must allow children to take risks so they can learn from them, build their confidence and develop new skills. Forest school encourages this. All staff must be aware of the risks involved with activities and must always explain these clearly to the children. At one of our sessions, staff placed a thick plank of wood across a very shallow flow of water and allowed children to cross the ‘bridge’. Staff explained to children that if they walked to quickly or were silly when crossing, that they could fall into the ‘river’, luckily enough the children were very sensible and were able to discipline themselves when crossing the ‘bridge’, this is an example of allowing children to take risks.