Forest School - The Ethos

Forest School – The Ethos

Forest school originated in Denmark in the 1950's and developed from their nature schools where children play and learn in an outdoor environment. The forest school ethos has six principles, which were agreed by the UK Forest School Community in 2011. The six guiding principles of Forest School are given below.

Principle 1 : Forest School is a long term process of frequent and regular sessions in a woodland or natural environment, rather than a one off visit. Planning, adaption, observations and reviewing are integral elements of Forest School.

 Principle 2 : Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural wooded environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.

Principle 3 : Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, foresting resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.

Principle 4: Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.

Principle 5: Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.

Principle 6: Forest school uses a range of learner-centered processes to create a community for development and learning.

This child-centred approach allows the children to develop more holistically in terms of their mind, body, emotion and spirit. It can lead to improved academic achievement, character development, physical development and good mental health and wellbeing. When children are allowed to develop their social and communication skills, are able to work in groups effectively and have a strong sense of worth and high self esteem, then the foundations have been laid for a positive attitude towards learning.

The Forest school setting is adaptable and allows for a flexible approach to learning, accommodating a range of learning styles and schemas, which allows children to make links and connections. Practitioners   can shape learning to individual child's preferred learning styles. Forest school leaders are able to plan opportunities for children to practice 'schemas' (the building blocks of the brain) which are repetitive behaviours that in turn, forge connections in the brain.

Children develop in the context of relationships and the environment that surrounds them. Children who play in natural environments with positive role models and skilled practitioners undertake more diverse, creative and imaginative play, forming an important part of the child's development. Forest school provides endless opportunities for this high engagement and therefore high level play.

The 'Characteristics of Effective Learning ' (EYFS Statutory Framework, England and Wales)is interwoven throughout the Forest School ethos and children are encouraged to play and explore, keep trying, enjoy what they set out to do and create and think critically. Forest school is a unique educational experience and process that offers children the opportunity to succeed and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands on learning experiences in a woodland environment.

Children engage in motivating and achievable tasks and activities throughout the year and in almost all weathers. Children will work with tools, play, earn boundaries of behaviour: both physical and social, grow in confidence, self esteem and motivation whilst developing an understanding and an appreciation of the natural world and respect for others.

Our Forest School environment aims:

 * To provide an opportunity for individuals to develop, to learn and to enjoy themselves.

*To provide a safe and non threatening environment in which children can take risks, make choices and initiate their own learning.

 *To help children understand, appreciate and care for the natural environment.

*To provide ways of developing practical life skills in an outdoor environment.

*To develop self-esteem, confidence and a positive disposition to learning through the completion of small, achievable tasks

*To meet the needs of children with different preferred learning styles

 *To develop social and team working skills

*To enable children to be independent, self motivated and considerate

*To be true to the forest school ethos and approach

*To develop a secure, happy and welcoming environment

 *To provide stimulation and varied learning activities appropriate to the child's needs and stages of development

*To help each child build self- esteem, confidence, independence, self-control and interpersonal skills

Activites for Forest School are diverse and numerous, but it should be child led, following the children's interests and fascination in order to create independent learners who are inspired to try out their own ideas, explore their own interests and attempt new ideas. Some activities might include:

*Shelter and den building

*Fire lighting

*tools use

*Studying wildlife

*Playing team and group games

*Woodland and traditional craft

*Developing stories and drama

*Sensory activities

 *Tracking Games

*Cooking on an open fire

 *Using a Kelly Kettle

*rope and string work

 *Art and sculpture work Physical movement activities - swinging, balancing, climbing